Martyr Complex or Syndrome

martyr complex syndrome girlintherapyMy mother definitely has Martyr Complex/Syndrome. This is synonymous with Victim Complex.

ALL the following symptoms fit her to a T. Or… M!

People with martyr syndrome suffer mostly by choice

When someone has Martyr Syndrome, they often choose to continue suffering, rather than fixing the problem, because they think that their suffering provides them with the completeness and fulfillment required to lead a meaningful and whole life. More than anything, this person longs for recognition and approval from those around him or her.

Continuing to suffer, rather than fixing the problem

This is a common symptom of those who are in an abusive or harassing relationship. They stay with the person causing them pain because they think that they can change the person’s ways with their unselfish behavior. Even if they have the choice of getting out of their bad situation, they choose to stay in it because they think it is more noble to suffer and if they leave the situation, they may be viewed as selfish.

Often complains that his/her selflessness goes unacknowledged

People with Martyr Syndrome often look and act unhappy because they feel that their sacrifices are underappreciated. A person with martyr syndrome will often feel like the person he/she has sacrificed for does not really how instrumental he/she has been in the person’s success. The person will mostly talk about how difficult life has been for him/her because he/she has had to sacrifice so much for the benefit of others. He/She will never talk about other options that he/she could have chosen to remedy the situation.

They will have a hard time letting the person they ‘sacrificed for’ live their own lives

The person will often remind the person that he sacrificed for that he deserves acknowledgement and appreciation. Even the slightest display of an attitude that they take to be less than respectful will be taken as an insult. Because of this, the person will get offended easily and will be set off by the slightest of triggers. — Yup, my mom

Will always talk highly of themself

The “martyr” will always talk about themself as a person who chose to suffer because of a noble cause. They will act as if they are constantly chased by a nagging feeling that people who have benefited from their sacrifices just do not recognize and acknowledge their selfless contributions and services.

  • The person will also does not hesitate in voicing displeasure to anyone that is willing to listen. He would like as many people as possible to know how unfortunate he is for having gotten the short end of the stick because of his acts of sacrifice. — OMG, this is soooo my mother!

Expects everyone to shower them with sympathy

People with Martyr Syndrome expect others to admire them for their selfless spirit. They greatly enjoy being showered with sympathy for the dreams and aspirations they put aside so that they could benefit someone else.

Will refuse assistance

When the ”martyr” is in the process of fixing someone else’s life, they will refuse any help, or deem any help that they get as insignificant in the full scheme of things. They will not listen to advice or suggestions because they thinks that everything that happens is because of themno one else had a hand in any of the changes that were made.

  • Wherever possible, the person with martyr syndrome will paint the picture like they were the only one to shoulder any burden in the situation, even if other people helped, or the situation didn’t really need to be fixed in the first place.

Will demand displays of love and respect

The person will love you and shower you with affection, but in return they will ask for your own outward displays of love and respect. Unsaid actions of love don’t satisfy people with Martyr Syndromethey need the most overt forms of expression.  They will expect you to talk about their sacrifices and unselfishness to everyone that you come into contact with. They will also expect gifts that show how much you appreciate them.

(adapted from WikiHow)

It is extremely tiring and torturous living with someone with Martyr Complex/Syndrome. I’m really glad I’ve moved out.

Do you know any Martyrs? Do you recognise any character traits?


Other helpful resources:

Martyrdom in history, The Martyr Complex, Handling Martyrdom
How To Stop Being Manipulated By A Martyr Complex Sufferer
Are You A Relationship Martyr?
Understanding the Martyr Archetype

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