Entitlement Mentality And How Scam Victims Often Lose Their Path To Recovery

Helping Scam Victims Avoid a Problematic Mentality that can Stall their Recovery

Scam Victims Recovery Psychology

Authors:
•  Vianey Gonzalez B.Sc(Psych) – Psychologist, Certified Deception Professional, Psychology Advisory Panel & Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.
•  Tim McGuinness, Ph.D. – Anthropologist, Scientist, Director of the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

In unpacking the Entitlement Mentality for Scam Victims we explore the complex psychological phenomenon of entitlement and its impact on scam victims’ ability to heal and move forward with their recovery. The article explores the origins of entitlement, its manifestation in scam victims, and its detrimental effects on mental well-being and interpersonal relationships within support groups.

Drawing on insights from psychology, neuroscience, and victimology, this highlights the role of cognitive biases and social dynamics in perpetuating entitlement and offers strategies for overcoming it.

By employing empathy, promoting realistic expectations, and challenging victim narratives, the article aims to empower scam victims to maintain their recovery journey with resilience and self-awareness.

Entitlement Mentality And How Scam Victims Often Lose Their Path To Recovery

Unpacking the Entitlement Mentality: How Scam Victims can lose sight of their Recovery

Trigger Warning

In this article, we are going to explore the Entitlement Mentality in a frank and honest manner. This may be too blunt for some scam victims. However, understanding this concept and working to avoid it is essential for scam victims who want a full and healthy recovery from these crimes. It is also important for those who try to support scam victims to understand this mentality so they can both help these victims and maintain a safe space for others.

Entitlement

Entitlement refers to the belief or expectation that one inherently deserves certain privileges, benefits, or treatment without necessarily having earned them through effort or merit. It encompasses a sense of entitlement to resources, opportunities, or treatment based on factors such as status, identity, or past experiences. This mentality often involves a sense of entitlement to special treatment, recognition, or rewards, leading individuals to expect preferential treatment or outcomes without regard for the perspectives or needs of others. Entitlement can manifest in various domains of life, including relationships, work, and society, and may contribute to feelings of resentment, inequality, and entitlement.

The irony of having an entitled mentality while disliking entitlement in others lies in the contradiction between one’s own behavior and beliefs. When an individual displays a sense of entitlement, they often expect special treatment or privileges without considering the perspectives or needs of others. However, when they encounter entitlement in others, they may perceive it as selfish or unjustified, highlighting a lack of self-awareness or empathy. This contradiction underscores the complexity of human behavior and the challenge of recognizing our own biases and shortcomings while holding others to different standards. It serves as a reminder of the importance of introspection and humility in understanding and addressing entitlement both within ourselves and in our interactions with others.

Scam Victim Entitlement

In the wake of falling victim to scams, individuals often grapple with a range of emotional and psychological challenges. Among these is the emergence of an entitlement mentality—a belief that they are inherently deserving of compensation, support, or justice as a consequence of their victimization. Understanding the origins and implications of this mindset is critical for scam victims themselves and for supporting scam victims in their recovery journey.

The entitlement mentality arises from a complex interplay of psychological, social, and neurological factors. At its core lies the profound sense of betrayal and violation experienced by victims, leaving them grappling with feelings of anger, injustice, and powerlessness. In seeking restitution, they may turn to the belief that they are entitled to compensation or retribution as a means of restoring their sense of control and justice.

Social Dynamics

Social dynamics further fuel the development of the entitlement mentality among scam victims. Societal norms around victimhood often emphasize sympathy and support for those who have been wronged, reinforcing the idea that victims are entitled to empathy and assistance from others. This can increase the trauma they experience when judged harshly by others.  Additionally, the prevalence of narratives depicting successful restitution or justice for victims in media and popular culture can perpetuate unrealistic expectations and increase a sense of entitlement.

Entitlement in the Brain

Neurologically, the entitlement mentality is bolstered by the brain’s reward system. When individuals perceive themselves as deserving of certain outcomes, the brain releases neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and reward, reinforcing the belief in their entitlement. Moreover, receiving validation or support from others in response to their perceived entitlement further activates this reward system, solidifying the belief in their deservingness.

Entitlement & Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases also play a significant role in perpetuating the entitlement mentality among scam victims. Confirmation bias leads individuals to seek out information that validates their beliefs, while attribution bias causes them to attribute positive outcomes to their own actions and negative outcomes to external factors. In the context of scam victimization, these biases may lead individuals to selectively interpret events in a way that reinforces their entitlement to compensation or justice, while dismissing evidence to the contrary.

Entitlement itself is not considered a cognitive bias itself. Instead, it’s a psychological phenomenon or mindset characterized by the belief that one deserves certain privileges or treatment without necessarily earning or justifying them. Cognitive biases, on the other hand, are systematic patterns of deviation from rationality or sound judgment that influence our decision-making processes. While entitlement can influence how individuals perceive and interpret information, it’s not typically classified as a cognitive bias in the same way as phenomena like confirmation bias or availability heuristic bias. However, entitlement can certainly interact with cognitive biases and affect how individuals process information and make decisions.

Cognitive Biases Involved in Entitlement

Several cognitive biases can contribute to or be associated with entitlement mentality:

  • Confirmation Bias: People with an entitlement mentality may seek out information that confirms their belief that they deserve special treatment or privileges while ignoring evidence to the contrary. They selectively interpret information in a way that aligns with their preconceived notions of entitlement.
  • Self-Serving Bias: This bias leads individuals to attribute positive outcomes to their own abilities or efforts while attributing negative outcomes to external factors. People with an entitlement mentality may overestimate their own contributions and downplay the role of others or external circumstances in their achievements.
  • Illusory Superiority: Also known as the “above-average effect,” this bias causes individuals to overestimate their own abilities and qualities relative to others. Those with an entitlement mentality may believe they are inherently better or more deserving than others, leading to feelings of entitlement.
  • Just-World Hypothesis: This bias suggests that people believe the world is fundamentally fair, and individuals get what they deserve. People with an entitlement mentality may perceive themselves as deserving of special treatment or rewards because they believe they are inherently good or have worked hard.
  • Anchoring Bias: Individuals with an entitlement mentality may anchor their beliefs about what they deserve based on arbitrary or subjective standards, such as comparing themselves to others who have more or expecting certain privileges based on their social status or background.
  • Attribution Bias: This bias involves the tendency to attribute one’s successes to internal factors (e.g., ability, effort) and failures to external factors (e.g., luck, circumstances). People with an entitlement mentality may selectively attribute their achievements to their own merits while blaming external factors for any setbacks or failures.
  • Selective Perception: People with an entitlement mentality may selectively perceive information that supports their beliefs about deserving special treatment or privileges while filtering out information that contradicts those beliefs. They may focus on evidence that reinforces their entitlement while disregarding or discounting opposing viewpoints.
  • Social Comparison Bias: Individuals with an entitlement mentality often engage in social comparisons by assessing their own abilities, attributes, or achievements in relation to others. However, instead of using these comparisons as a basis for self-improvement or learning, they may use them to bolster their sense of entitlement. For example, they may compare themselves only to those who are less fortunate or accomplished, leading to an inflated sense of superiority and entitlement. Or they may compare how others recover from their trauma faster or better than they do and believe they are entitled to recover the same or better.

These cognitive biases can reinforce and perpetuate feelings of entitlement by shaping how individuals perceive themselves, others, and the world around them.

Entitlement During Recovery

A sense of entitlement can significantly impact a scam victim’s ability to recover from a relationship scam in various ways:

  • Unrealistic Expectations: Scam victims with a sense of entitlement typically harbor unrealistic expectations about their recovery process. They can believe they are entitled to immediate emotional healing, financial restitution, or justice, without fully understanding the complexities involved in the law enforcement or recovery processes.
  • Emotional Distress: When these expectations are not met, it can significantly worsen the scam victim’s emotional distress. They may experience frustration, anger, or resentment towards themselves, the scammer, or others who they feel are not meeting their needs or expectations.
  • Strained Relationships: In support groups for scam victims, a sense of entitlement can strain relationships with other victims. Those who exhibit entitlement may try to monopolize conversations without really being aware of it, seek validation for their grievances without offering support to others, or become confrontational when their expectations are not met by fellow group members or facilitators.
  • Lack of Empathy: Entitled individuals usually struggle to empathize with the experiences of others in the support group. They may dismiss or downplay the struggles of fellow victims, believing their own suffering to be more significant or deserving of attention.
  • Stunted Recovery: Ultimately, a sense of entitlement will impede a scam victim’s recovery process by preventing them from fully engaging in the healing journey. Instead of focusing on self-reflection, personal growth, and rebuilding trust, they may remain fixated on perceived injustices and grievances, hindering their ability to move forward.

In support groups, it’s essential for facilitators to maintain an environment of empathy, understanding, and mutual support, but also be truthful with everyone about these and other issues. Encouraging active listening, validating each member’s experiences, and promoting a sense of community can help mitigate the negative effects of entitlement and create a more inclusive and supportive space for all scam victims to heal and recover.

Affecting a Scam Victim’s Mental Health

Entitlement, characterized by an individual’s belief that they deserve special privileges or treatment without necessarily earning them, can significantly impact a scam victim’s mental well-being in several ways.

First, entitlement may lead to unrealistic expectations about the recovery process following a scam. Victims may believe they are entitled to immediate financial compensation or emotional restitution, which can lead to frustration and disappointment when these expectations are not met. This sense of entitlement can exacerbate feelings of victimization and impede the healing process.

Entitlement can strain relationships within support groups for scam victims. When individuals harbor a sense of entitlement, they may prioritize their own needs and dismiss the experiences of others. This can create tension and resentment within the group, undermining the support and solidarity that are vital for recovery. Additionally, entitlement may hinder genuine empathy and compassion towards fellow victims, as individuals focus primarily on their own perceived injustices.

The perpetuation of entitlement can prolong the victim mindset, preventing individuals from taking proactive steps toward healing and moving forward. By fixating on what they believe they are owed, victims can remain stuck in a cycle of resentment and bitterness, hindering their ability to rebuild their lives and regain a sense of agency.

Entitlement adversely affects scam victims’ mental well-being by fostering unrealistic expectations, straining interpersonal relationships, and impeding personal growth and recovery. Recognizing and addressing entitlement is essential for victims to cultivate resilience, empathy, and a sense of empowerment as they navigate the aftermath of being scammed.

Entitlement itself is not classified as a mental disorder, but it can be a symptom or precursor of certain underlying psychological issues. While occasional feelings of entitlement are common and may not necessarily indicate a deeper problem, persistent and extreme entitlement attitudes can be associated with personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Entitlement alone does not necessarily indicate the presence of a personality disorder. It can also manifest as a maladaptive coping mechanism in response to trauma, stress, or societal influences. For example, individuals who have experienced significant adversity or trauma may develop entitlement as a means of compensating for feelings of powerlessness or inadequacy. This is something that should be explored with each victim’s therapist.

Avoiding Entitlement

Understanding the entitlement mentality in the aftermath of scam victimization requires an empathetic approach while maintaining boundaries. Empathy, validation, and support are crucial for addressing the underlying emotional turmoil experienced by victims. However, it is equally important to challenge unrealistic expectations and help them build realistic resilience by promoting adaptive coping strategies and reframing narratives of victimhood.

Remember

Understanding the entitlement mentality among scam victims is essential for scam victims and those trying to help them. By understanding it and helping scam survivors to try to avoid or overcome it we can provide more effective support and facilitate meaningful recovery.

NOTE: In our experience, we encounter entitlement frequently, but we see it in typically less than 10% of the victims we help. Most will overcome it naturally as their recovery journey continues, while others need more professional help to succeed.

Statement About Victim Blaming

Some of our articles discuss various aspects of victims. This is both about better understanding victims (the science of victimology) and their behaviors and psychology. This helps us to educate victims/survivors about why these crimes happened and to not blame themselves, better develop recovery programs, and to help victims avoid scams in the future. At times this may sound like blaming the victim, but it does not blame scam victims, we are simply explaining the hows and whys of the experience victims have.

These articles, about the Psychology of Scams or Victim Psychology – meaning that all humans have psychological or cognitive characteristics in common that can either be exploited or work against us – help us all to understand the unique challenges victims face before, during, and after scams, fraud, or cybercrimes. These sometimes talk about some of the vulnerabilities the scammers exploit. Victims rarely have control of them or are even aware of them, until something like a scam happens and then they can learn how their mind works and how to overcome these mechanisms.

Articles like these help victims and others understand these processes and how to help prevent them from being exploited again or to help them recover more easily by understanding their post-scam behaviors. Learn more about the Psychology of Scams at www.ScamPsychology.org

Important Information for New Scam Victims

SCARS Resources:

Psychology Disclaimer:

All articles about psychology and the human brain on this website are for information & education only

The information provided in this and other SCARS articles are intended for educational and self-help purposes only and should not be construed as a substitute for professional therapy or counseling.

Note about Mindfulness: Mindfulness practices have the potential to create psychological distress for some individuals. Please consult a mental health professional or experienced meditation instructor for guidance should you encounter difficulties.

While any self-help techniques outlined herein may be beneficial for scam victims seeking to recover from their experience and move towards recovery, it is important to consult with a qualified mental health professional before initiating any course of action. Each individual’s experience and needs are unique, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another.

Additionally, any approach may not be appropriate for individuals with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or trauma histories. It is advisable to seek guidance from a licensed therapist or counselor who can provide personalized support, guidance, and treatment tailored to your specific needs.

If you are experiencing significant distress or emotional difficulties related to a scam or other traumatic event, please consult your doctor or mental health provider for appropriate care and support.

If you are in crisis, feeling desperate, or in despair please call 988 or your local crisis hotline.

PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

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