Helper syndrome: Are you just trying to help or are you looking for recognition?

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Helper syndrome: Are you just trying to help or are you looking for recognition?

Helping someone is a matter of course for you. But helpfulness can become pathological. Is it really about helping, or do you just want to feel morally superior? What do you feel exactly? Is this possibly the helper syndrome?

A typical sign of excessive helpfulness is a strong imbalance in the Relationship. But you can overcome the helper syndrome and restore balance.

Helper syndrome: what is it?

The first step in addressing the problem is to Meaning of the helper syndrome. This term was coined in 1977 by the psychoanalyst Wolfgang Schmidbauer. It indicates that the affected people see themselves predominantly in the role of the helper. It is a kind of diagnosis, but it does not appear in the psychiatric systems.

Providing help in itself is considered a morally good deed. But the constant offer of help can become an addiction. Those who sacrifice themselves as helpers feel needed and thus valuable. It feels good when others depend on your willingness to help. But if you are affected by the helper syndrome, you override your own desires. You forget to say no. You let yourself be taken advantage of - and you even like it. However, this permanent help can become a burden and lead to burnout.

Typical causes for the helper syndrome

Most often the Causes for the helper syndrome in childhood. Schmidbauer and other psychoanalysts attribute the extremely helpful attitude to an unbalanced parental home. Too little love, security, and support can cause the affected person to have Inferiority complexes trigger. These awaken the desire to make oneself an important person by helping. Even children gain more recognition in this way.

At the same time, the dependence between the person helping and the person in need grows. But in the foreground is the pursuit of affection and Gratitude.

People with helper syndrome believe they are worth more. They see themselves as victims capable of suffering - and at the same time as admirable helpers. This can also have narcissistic traits.

helper syndrome test

Are you a helper? How to tell if you have helper syndrome

The psychological background of the helper syndrome cannot always be seen through at a glance. Sometimes the role allocation is hidden behind a facade, in other cases other characteristics overlay the pathological helpfulness. There are different symptoms for the helper syndrome. Depending on the causes and the manifestation of the helper syndrome, coaching or psychotherapy may be useful.

Important Warning signals from the helper syndrome test:

  • Your own wishes always take a back seat: The Needs of other people are more important to you.
  • You overhear your inner voice.
  • You impose your help even when it is not requested. This can seem encroaching, because the other people feel restricted or harassed by it.
  • You can't listen to someone whining without offering help because you'll feel guilty.
  • Your voluntary help leads to Disappointments and sometimes even to damage.
  • You see your role as a helper as morally valuable and thus place yourself above normal society.
  • In your opinion, many people are ungrateful and do not recognize your performance enough.
  • You assume a certain share of responsibility for people who are doing badly. You think you owe that to your social attitude.
  • In a toxic relationship you, as a pathological helper, do not see that you are slipping into co-dependency. This increases the suffering on both sides.
  • You can't accept help yourself.
  • You feel exhausted because of your constant help and burnout is looming.
  • Because of your willingness to help, you suffer from psychosomatic illnesses up to and including depressive moods.

5 Dangers of the helper syndrome

Those who feel comfortable in the helper role see no risks in this attitude. But the helper syndrome can big problems for all sides. The risks here are closely interlinked.

  • The pathological helpers lose their Conflict skillsbecause they do not allow any criticism.
  • Those who feel superior because of their great willingness to help, play themselves up to a position of moral power.
  • The interdependencies of interpersonal relationships intensify.
  • A characteristic consequence of the hidden egocentrism in the helper syndrome is narcissism.
  • Often the helper syndrome leads to a toxic relationship.

How to get help for helper syndrome

If you fear that the helper syndrome has you in its grip, the following will help you Self-awareness further. By becoming aware of what the helper syndrome is, you are already starting to cope. Some Steps you can initiate yourself:

  • Stay away from assistance that is not clearly needed.
  • Don't help out of impatience, but trust others more.
  • Notice your feelings and examine why you want to help: do you just want to hear "thank you"? Do you have Fearthat no one likes you when you say no?
  • Relaxation exercises train your Patience and bring you into an inner balance.
  • A good Time Management is a good prevention against overload and burnout.

A trained helper syndrome is not so easy to overcome. Everything in you resists not helping. You could be ostracized. It would go much faster if you helped. The others can't do that so well.

To this Beliefs to overcome, you may need outside help:

  • An Coaching Supports you to explore your thought world and plumb your repressed feelings.
  • When you meditate, you find your serenity again and learn to relax.
  • In social professions there are always consultations and supervision talks. Here it is about the personal Motivation and the dynamic relationship between the helper and the person in need.
  • Psychotherapy goes into the Past in. In this way, you will find out where your willingness to help comes from and what level is tolerable.

5 tips to prevent helper syndrome

Below we would like to show you five Tips to prevent the helper syndrome.

  1. Recognize your personal needs and stand up for them. Don't suppress your wishes, but stay true to yourself.
  2. Before any help, think about your motives. Are you acting selfishly - do you just want to feel better (more valuable, recognized)?
  3. Test your resilience and Resilience: Don't put yourself through too much.
  4. Say no once in a while, especially when saying yes to those in need contradicts your own needs.
  5. Take regular Timeouts, to relieve stress and recharge energy.

Overcoming the helper syndrome

Those who are in the helper role often overlook the imbalance in their relationship and also in the relationship with other people they are dealing with. This is how toxic relationships can develop: One partner always expects the other to help. The helper feels comfortable in his or her usual role - or at least has become accustomed to it. But a healthy partnership only works at eye level.

A relationship test shows you if you might be in a co-dependency or if a burn-out is looming. At Greator, you can read about the signs that indicate a toxic relationship point out. You can't stand such an unbalanced partnership permanently. It weakens your Self-esteem, even if you think you are needed.

The Personality test from Greator also gives information about your character and your ability to relate. Learn to be yourself trust - and help yourself. With the right portion of self-love and Mindfulness you put your own inner Balance restored.


Is your relationship healthy?

Find out, Whether your relationship is toxic! Our free relationship quiz will help you see if you're in a harmful relationship - or if everything is in the green.
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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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