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Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.
-- Erica Jong

This is the final installment in my series on various trading types. Our last type is the victim-blamer. Of the various trading styles, this type is the most emotionally and psychologically immature. The

gambler-impulsive type, by contrast, who is often immature in his decision-making, is at least more often willing to assume responsibility for his poor decisions. Not so the victim-blamer.

Let me make one distinction between the person who is truly victimized and the one who only


he is, so as not to have to assume responsibility for his or her own actions. The investors mentioned in

last week's column, for example, who lost their money through the dishonest and corrupt practices of their broker, may have been naive, but they were also victimized.

This is clearly different from those who simply prefer to blame others for doing things to hurt them when they have no proof of wrongdoing, and who use chronic blaming and complaining as their primary way of dealing with the world.


Victim-blamers tend to interpret anything in life that doesn't go their way as somehow aimed against them, believing somebody or something is working against their welfare. It may be a boss, a girlfriend or an entity such as a company or the government. Or it may be outside forces such as "bad luck," "nature," "evil forces" or even their conception of God.

This type has never learned to assume personal responsibility for their own actions vs. blaming others. While everyone tends to lapse into blaming others at least sometimes for their misfortune, this trading type makes blaming their primary defense mechanism to deflect their own sense of agency.

Taking the role of the victim allows them to feel sorry for themselves and have a ready-made excuse for things not going the way they think they should. It also means not having to change their own behavior -- nothing is ever admitted to being their fault, so nothing needs changing.

This type feels like they have been cheated of their rightful place in life. By adopting their "poor me" stance toward the world, they believe others are denying them of their rightful attention, status and admiration.

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Often they have had harsh lives. Either little opportunity, poor education, a disability, an early death in the family or deep love disappointments may be part of the personal history. Unlike other morepsychologically resilient people, they never seem to recover from early trauma or disappointments. For example, some of the young Vietnam War vets of my generation became victims and could never overcome their traumatic war experiences to go on to be productive.

Some victim-blamers are chronically angry, depressed and even full of rage. Finding it harder to form intimate relationships, they may appear distant and isolated.

One psychological defense mechanism working with this type is the tendency to project onto others their own desire to exploit and victimize. Rather than admit their own interest in taking advantage of people, they deny this desire. Instead, they see others as having the same motive toward them.

Money Management and Trading Style

Victim-blamers tend to be watchful over their money and are mistrustful of institutions, brokers or anyone else who might take advantage of them. Some may even keep their money out of banks, preferring home safes or other such hideouts that provide them with ultimate safety, even if their money earns no interest. If they are able to entrust their money to an institution, they are quick to complain about at least the perception of (imagined) impropriety.

For those who venture to trade online, handling losses well is not their strong point. They tend to be moderate or conservative investors, do not make a lot of trades, and are very suspicious of taking advice from online Web sites or trusting stock advisers or media pundits.

Because they are looking for someone to blame for their investments that lose money, they are among those most in favor of intense governmental investigation and prosecution of market manipulation of any kind. With each fresh uncovering of company accounting fraud, brokerage-analyst duplicity, insider trading or any other type of market manipulation, they smile and say, "See, I told you they're all out to get us!" But this only tends to make them feel more helpless and assume less responsibility for their own investing decisions.

The more severe victim-blamers are not suited for online individual stock trading of any type, as they simply are unable to assume the necessary responsibility for their decisions and behavior. It would be better for them to invest in bonds, index funds, real estate, or some other vehicles away from the markets -- so they feel they have greater control.

And for most, it would be a good idea to get psychological help so that they may learn to grow up and assume personal responsibility for their actions, whether those actions be related to investing or other spheres of their lives. With help, they may then assume their place as mature adults in the world. I've been assisting people to grow up over the last quarter century, so I know it can be done.

Steven J. Hendlin, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Irvine, Calif. He has been in private practice for the last 26 years, investing for the last 20 years, and actively trading online as a position trader and long-term investor since 1996. He is the author of

The Disciplined Online Investor and maintains a site at He is pleased to receive your comments and questions for publication in his public forum columns at , but please remember that he is unable to provide personal counseling or psychotherapy through the mail. has a revenue-sharing relationship with under which it receives a portion of the revenue from Amazon purchases by customers directed there from