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Psychology: Controlling Between Caring: Care Giver? Control Freak? Or Victim?

Updated on April 19, 2012

I have a theory. It isn’t evidence based, just formulated from psychology courses, observations and experience. If you work in care as a care giver, you might ask yourself whether your psychological tendencies lean toward a control freak or victim. What is your motivation for becoming a care giver? Did you want to help people or were you in it for monetary reasons?

Care attracts two types of people, I believe, control freaks and victims. The victims are those who feel angry about injustice because they have suffered injustice. They generally want to empower and advocate for those who are vulnerable and will speak up for their rights.  The other group tend to be control freaks who want to (subconsciously) feel powerful and authoritarian.

The Utopia.. Not Reality!
The Utopia.. Not Reality!

Which One Are YOU Caregiver? Control Freak or Victim?

Empowering others is about enabling people to achieve what they want to achieve. This is where choice comes in. The role of the carergiver is the tool of the client or patient so as they can achieve their goals. The attitude here is instead of ‘you can’t do that’; it is ‘how can we enable you to achieve your goal?’ This is called a client-centred approach. It enables the person to make an informed choice.

If you are a carergiver that has this in as a priority in your practice, then you are probably a victim. You are a victim because systems are put in place, by the control freaks, so as care can be managed at the convenience of the establishment. If you are truly client-centred, you would be an anarchist, or advocate, fighting the system to benefit your client or patient.

You would be in a no-win situation because the system is designed in a manner that ‘mother knows best’. This isn’t about choice, but management convenience ran by control freaks. If you protest for the rights of your patient, those in power will consider you problematic and a chance of promotion will not be offered. At best, the care giver (victim) remains in that position, scapegoated and powerless. At worst, he/she is psychologically forced out by other’s closing rank, until they leave.

Both situations, ultimately, doesn’t help the client or patient. The situation the carer, as victim, find themselves in is a reoccurrent one. They have lived with this status most of their lives, so the cyclic behaviour starts again. They have suffered injustice, so the fight for the rights and injustice of others.

So, are you a victim or a control freak?

Mother knows best!

As a controlling carer, you might be attracted to care because you want to 'help' people. Click ‘help’ for definition. ‘Helping’ blurs the boundary between empowerment and enabling. defines help as to make things easier or better, to do for (either partly or wholly) and to assist. Helping isn’t empowering and enabling.

Empowerment talks about the client or patient having the resources and tools to make an informed choice. To enable a patient or client is to make available, provide with the means the opportunity to fulfil that choice. An example of empowering tools is that of a living will. Click living will for more information.

The controlling carer, therefore, will soon find himself in a position of power because he adheres to the practices and procedures of the authoritative guides and legislation. A client is told; therefore, he can’t fulfil his wishes because it goes against his care plan. The mere fact that care has a plan, therefore, is controlling in itself, whether the client is in at the meeting where this plan is taken in effect or not.

The controlling carer keeps in mind budgets and cost containment. He may get a bonus for keeping costs down and kudos points from higher management. It, therefore, goes that anyone that is a threat to these practices and procedures must be kept in place. After all, rules are in place to keep us from harm. He/she is, ultimately helping the client – ‘mother knows best’.

Do you kid yourself that you are practising a client centred approach?

To help, therefore, has its benefits in the system. The perspective of the controller is doing his/her best to provide care. They kid themselves they are practicing a client centred approach within the bounds of an informed choice. This is only an informed choice, however, because the client is informed of the changes. The victim carers would argue that this would be a restricted choice.

In view that people group themselves with like-minded people, it would be no surprise, therefore, if the victims grouped together whilst the control freaks help each other climb up the management ranks to greater status with more money.  Does this sound familiar as you look at your care environment?

Are you a victim or a control freak?

In psychology terms, it is known that societies victims tend to remain victims. It has been written that in the grand scheme of things, this is the order of life. Victims are happy to fulfil this role as they know no other way, whereas the controllers like to feel powerful and in control.

Often power is associated with money and status. This is a great motivation. Although a controlling carer may start off with the intention of ‘helping’, or what they perceive as this, the nature of their psychology soon comes into play in their behaviour. The nature of behaviour is the same with all humans; only the victim careers motivation is that of standing up for injustice.

So here you have it. If you work as a care giver, and be honest with yourself, which one are you? The control freak or the victim?

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

Margaret Haywood demonstrates victim/carer. She stood up for the rights of patient care. The Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC) demonstrate controller/carers.

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    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Great point. Talking from the same stage, me thinks! :)

    • Rafini profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      ----Sometimes, though, doing for someone can be disempowering because you might be taking their independence away or a chance to learn----

      Yup - that's why I said Helping isn't doing for someone else. It's helping to keep the other person in a disempowered situation - now, is that really helpful? Nope, it only serves the wrong purpose. To keep the 'controller' in control of 'enabling' the 'controlled' to stay 'controlled'. Not healthy at all.

      I caught your email but didn't have time to respond - I was at school. Thanks, shaz. :D

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Thanks Tony - this is a very valuable point. Well done for pointing this out and, of course, you are correct. But dont you think there is a difference between 'taking control' and being 'controlling'? The context certainly changes.

      I value your comments, as always, Shaz:)

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      This is a very interesti8ng Hub. Thanks for sharing. The line between caring and controlling is a very fine one. I think that personal awareness is very important to all care givers. Knowing and understanding your motives, and truly having empathy for the other person, will help to keep the care giver on the side of caring rather than controlling.

      And of course, in some situations, urually traumatic, it is quite legitimate to be in control mode - if I was having a heart attack I would like the care giver to make certain decisions, and fast, and not to keep asking me what I think!

      Thanks for sharing this.

      Love and peace


    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Rafini... the points you make, I agree with you 100% Sometimes, though, doing for someone can be disempowering because you might be taking their independence away or a chance to learn - this is 'helping' but not empowering - does that make sense?

      Now, your situation, I will email you:)

    • Rafini profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      OMG - nope, I can't comment on all of it! lol

      A couple things: I don't believe victims want to be victims, but I do believe people in power want victims to be victims and to stay victims otherwise people in power would help victims learn to not be victims.

      I have to argue with the help/empowerment part. I believe help is empowerment, if handled correctly. Some people have the wrong idea of help. Helping is not doing for someone else, help is assisting others to enable them to do for themselves. (if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day - if you teach a man to fish, he feeds himself for life) Either way you look at it, it's considered helping. But, which is more helpful?

      I also don't agree with a plan being another form of control. Plans are there to teach someone how to set goals. Some people need assistance in learning how to set goals and achieve them.

      Now, for my personal situation...yep, I understood the control aspect of it, but it was a really crazy situation. Everyone wanted control yet nobody had control. My boss was threatened by me, her boss (initially and in secret) had asked me if I wanted her job, my boss was 'friends' with her entire staff, (except me, I wasn't in the clique) my boss proudly announced she was Wiccan but assured everyone she didn't do Black Magic because it always comes back to bite you in the @$$, my boss had her assistant 'find' a strand of my hair....oh wow, I should probably stop. LOL But, you get the point. Manipulation. Deceit. Control.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Caterino - I am sorry for your loss. It must have been difficult.

      This article was about working in care within established organisations for a wage. Your case was different, you did it for love. What I am talking about is people that are drawn to paid work are attracted to it because of what is inherant in their personality - essentially they are controllers or victims of life experience.

      I hope this makes sense :)

    • Caterino profile image


      8 years ago from Greenville South Carolina

      I picked up my family in Florida and moved them in with my mother and father in Jersey so I can aid my dying dad. I did what I thought was right. I cared for my elderly parents while my siblings living around the corner were never to be found. I did this from my heart and with all the compassion I could muster. After Dad dies, we moved out resuming our lives. My siblings gained control of my fathers estate and divided everything between themselves. They think they had won but I know I did the right think. What they don't know is that I have no need for money. They will never know how to give which is sad. I was not a control freak or a victim, just a compassionate son doing the right thing making his dads life more comfortable at the end of his life. I wanted his fears to calm and I have succeeded.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Great Britain

      Kirsten.. you are absolutely correct. To stay within a system of beauracratic systems, must (by action) be about survial. But why should we have to put up with just survival? Why can't there be a utopia of equality? I think I am leaning more toward 'drop out' I like your comment on joining the darkside... maybe 'victims/survivors' get broken down by the system? They might succumb and turn with an attitude of 'well if you cant beat them, join them!'.

    • kirstenblog profile image


      9 years ago from London UK

      Shaz - I gotta say I hate the term victim :D. I much prefer survivor. I think of myself as both a survivor and fighter. Thanks for including the link in your comment on my hub, I appreciated reading this so imagine anyone visiting my hub would too. I wont link here to this hub but if you wanted to you are free to link it here if you find it relevant.

      As far as being a carer goes I do fall into the category of one who sees injustice and abuses in the system (for personal gain usually) and believe in fighting the good fight as they say. I wonder if what correlation there might be for people moving from victim (your word, my word, survivor) to control freak? It does seem that you have only 3 options really, fight the good fight, drop out totally or join the dark side!

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Great Britain

      Denno... you are such a kewl sheep! x

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Well, for starters, you put a great amount of time into your Hubs. That is evident. I think you will get a good traffic flow with this one. I can't see anything that you would need to do to better it. Thank you for yet another thought-provoking read.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Great Britain

      I thank you for taking the time to read.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Interesting look at why people get into the field of care. I'm a nurturer by nature and that is why I have always wanted to be a nurse. I got a little waylay on the plan but have it back in gear now to get that degree. Thanks for sharing this perspective.


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