Typology of Revenge – By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
The need to seek revenge on wrong- and evil-doers is as ancient as Mankind. But people attempt to address their grievances in three ways:
The aim of this type of vengeance is to restore justice and, with it, the victim’s view of the world as orderly, predictable, and causal. Perpetrators should be punished; victims should be soothed and elevated; and society should publicly acknowledge who is who and mete out opprobrium and succour respectively.
This type of revenge tends to devolve into an obsession (intrusive, uncontrolled thoughts) and compulsion (an irresistible urge to behave in a way that is sometimes inconsistent with one’s values or even true wishes, or incommensurate with one’s skills, needs, long-term interests, capabilities, or wherewithal.) It is unhealthy and, in the long-term, counterproductive as it taxes the victim’s time and resources; adversely affects her other relationships; renders her dysfunctional; and, ultimately, consumes her.
Vindictiveness is the narcissist’s way of restoring his self-imputed grandiosity and of recuperating from a narcissistic injury. Having fallen prey to malfeasance or crime, the narcissist is proven to be gullible, ignorant, and helpless. This experience is humiliating and the circumstances of victimhood contrast sharply with the narcissist’s inflated view of himself as omniscient, omnipotent, brilliant, shrewd, and perfect. Only by bringing the culprit to utter ruin does the narcissist regain his sense of self.
Ask yourself if your bruised ego is the main reason for your indignation and spite. If it is, try to separate the elements of your conduct that have to do with your justified grievance and those that revolve around your unhealthy narcissism. Avoid the latter and pursue the former.
With this type of revenge, the victim merely wishes to restore her fortunes and reassert her rights – in other words: to revert the world to its erstwhile state by acting against her violator decisively and assertively. This is a healthy, functional, and just way of coping with the pain and damage wrought by other people’s malicious and premeditated misbehaviour.