The Obsession With Justice: Another Side of Victimhood

What lies behind an obsession with justice? What's behind those people who let it rule their life? Find out here.
The Obsession With Justice: Another Side of Victimhood
Sergio De Dios González

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Written by Edith Sánchez

Last update: 08 November, 2022

An obsession with justice, like any other obsession, is more of a neurotic attitude than a reasonable one. Of course, most of us want every human being to get what they deserve. But when someone focuses too much on this goal, it can become more of a problem than a virtue.

In some cases, an obsession with justice is just one more facet of victimhood. The latter is an attitude characterized by the unrealistic idea that the individual is constantly being harmed or abused. Sometimes, the idea is also present in a group. However, unlike real victims, they exaggerate or simulate the damage they receive.

As a matter of fact, an obsession with justice and victimhood often go hand in hand. It’s almost always an unconscious position. The individual who adopts this attitude refuses to assess situations objectively. Instead, they explain and argue that they’re the object of real damage, that an external factor is at fault, and that the way out would be to change that factor. That said, they don’t actually take any action to achieve it.

Do justice to your brother (you can do that, whether you love him or not) and you will come to love him. But do injustice to him because you don’t love him, and you will come to hate him.”

-John Ruskin-

friends arguing

The professional victim

People who are obsessed with justice feel that they’re in a permanent position of inferiority or vulnerability. It’s not an inferiority complex as such, but rather a basic conviction on which they build a righteous discourse. It’s more of a mental construct than an existential one.

One important element is that the condition of vulnerability or inferiority is usually exaggerated or extended to aspects in which this criterion isn’t applicable. For example, when someone doesn’t have their own vehicle and finds it difficult to arrive on time for their commitments. They might extend that idea and go so far as to claim that they’re not productive enough because they have no car.

In effect, their conviction becomes an element that’s overemphasized. It may even become a magic formula for them that explains away all their problems or mishaps. As a rule, this type of logic is present not in one, but in several aspects of their life simultaneously.

An obsession with justice

When an individual is taken over by this type of mentality, they usually apply the same thought pattern to different areas of their life. Consequently, there’s always something or someone to blame for their misfortunes. For instance, if they don’t have a partner, it’s because any potential candidates they’ve met don’t know how to value them. If their family relationships are difficult, it’s due to the complete lack of empathy from their relatives. If they can’t get a job, it’s down to the obstructive powers that be.

Together, this constitutes a breeding ground for an obsession with justice to be formed and nurtured. It’s a rebellious posture in which a change in others or in the world, in general, is sought or demanded. It starts from the basis that if the rest is transformed, their own problems will end.

As well as the above, they build an argument in which the problematic factors in their environment aren’t the result of their own errors or shortcomings, but the result of a will to do them harm. If only the company gave them a car, they’d have no complaints about their work performance. If their family had a little more empathy with them, they wouldn’t argue with them. But no: the company is stingy and the family is selfish.

Boy talking to girl

A vicious and tragic circle

People who are obsessed with justice tend to become extremely unfair to others, and even to themselves. That’s one of the traps of victimhood: feeding the idea that their supposed position of inferiority or vulnerability gives them the right to judge others harshly.

However, these vigilantes by trade are usually good people who’ve ended up trapped in their own psychological fiction. They feel vulnerable, but perhaps not for the reasons they give. In fact, it’s possible that their insecurities and feelings of frustration due to their truncated or failed purposes are playing tricks on them.

Of course, injustice exists and is very real. It’s also true that in many cases it’s intolerable, and it’s our duty to fight against it. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to review these situations with a cool head.

Does the fact that an individual doesn’t have certain advantages really have to be addressed as an injustice? Couldn’t lacking something or facing certain problems be seen as a challenge to inspire positive change rather than being viewed as a handicap? Those who are obsessed with justice should think about these questions and answer them by being honest with themselves.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arias, A. (2012). Teoría crítica y derechos humanos: hacia un concepto crítico de víctima. Nómadas: Critical Journal of Social and Juridical Sciences, (36), 31-60.
  • Javaloy, F. (1983). Psicología del fanatismo. Universitat de Barcelona.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.