Procrustean Syndrome: Hating People Who Stand Out
Watching and imitating what others around you do can be a kick-start to self-improvement and motivation. However, when that becomes the cause of permanent comparisons, it becomes torture. Someone with Procrustean syndrome lives their life this way.
Procrustean syndrome borrows its name from a Greek story. Procrustes was an innkeeper who received travelers in his house and cut off their upper or lower limbs if they protruded from the bed. This already gives us a clue as to what the center is: whatever stands out or attracts attention is bothersome.
This syndrome can have multiple origins. For example, during our upbringing, we may have been deprived of affection and praise while our sibling was the protagonist of the scene. The groundwork can be a foundation for thinking that there’s not enough to go around. Therefore, others become potential competitors.
Characteristics of a person with Procrustean syndrome
First of all, it’s worth clarifying that all people may feel envious or jealous of others at some point in life. What characterizes the Procrustean syndrome is that it’s a generalized situation that appears constantly and even with respect to multiple people.
Also, some of the characteristics that we can identify about this syndrome are the following:
- They tend to be naysayers with an easy “no.” A co-worker may have presented a great solution to address an issue, yet they reply that the idea doesn’t seem as appropriate or that it’s not original enough. In other words, they use any excuse to discredit it.
- Many times, they cause conflicts and mistreat others. They usually don’t communicate assertively and have bad manners. They boycott the initiatives of others.
- They have a low tolerance for frustration. They can’t tolerate that others may be right or have better ideas.
- They’re capable of going against what they think in order to contradict the person they see as a threat.
- They have difficulty accepting other people’s opinions. Therefore, it’s very difficult for them to work in a group.
- They are very rigid people with difficulties adapting to change and who express themselves and live in terms of their own absolute truths.
The causes and consequences of Procrustean syndrome
One of the first reasons why it bothers us that another person excels has to do with low self-esteem. Because of this, we feel under threat.
Insecurity haunts us, and we fear being left in the shadows. This spills over into our work, relationships, and family.
Ultimately, Procrustean syndrome interferes with interpersonal relationships. We’re unable to connect authentically with others. We avoid sharing what happens to us and establish distance.
It also involves an enormous expenditure of energy. We’re permanently on alert. Of course, our mental health is affected, as we are filled with bitterness, anger, and pessimism.
In work environments, Procrustean syndrome is very harmful. This is especially the case if the person occupies leadership positions. It causes great demotivation in employees.
We think you may also enjoy reading this article: What is the Glass Ceiling and Why Do We Need to Break It?
How to deal with the Procrustean syndrome?
Some of the keys to overcoming the Procrustean syndrome are the following:
- Don’t take what the other person says personally. Believing that it’s all directed at us is a bias. It’s good to ask yourself questions such as “is it possible that what he/she said to me is overstated?” In this way, the goal is to challenge our biases.
- Establish agreement. For example, if there are two people who participated in the elaboration of a project if in a work environment, it’s possible to divide the presentation into equal parts when presenting it. In this way, we avoid those situations that unleash the feeling that someone wants to overshadow us.
- Identify your strengths and learn to rely on others to improve your weaknesses. It’s important to recognize that all people have something to contribute to a job, a team, or a relationship. Therefore, you don’t need to explore what you have to offer in the areas in which you participate. At the same time, you can open up with others to learn how they solve and what they do in situations that are difficult for them.
Like this article? You may also like to read: The Forer Effect: Do You Believe in Horoscopes or Fortune Tellers?
The more we look at others, the less we own our own behaviors
Procrustean syndrome is very harmful to a person, as we not only maintain a negative and pessimistic attitude towards others, but we also get sidetracked. We forget about ourselves and about working on our strengths and improving our weaknesses.
In this way, we remain limited and block our growth. The only thing we see is how to bring the other person down or how to embarrass him/her. Thus, we close ourselves to meaningful exchanges and turn a deaf ear to everything that comes from other people. In doing so, we also deceive ourselves as if we were the only ones with the right answer.
Be careful with this! We can make easily mistakes because of our arrogance.
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.
- Young, Pablo. (2018). Síndrome de Procusto en la Medicina. Revista médica de Chile, 146(7), 943-944. https://dx.doi.org/10.4067/s0034-98872018000700943
- Tamez Osollo, A. I. (2016). Integración de modelo cognitivo-conductual y terapia centrada en soluciones en un caso de falta de asertividad y baja autoestima (Doctoral dissertation, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León).
- Llácer, B. G., & Julián, R. M. (2015). Celos y envidia en el trabajo: una revisión de los últimos 20 años. Apuntes de Psicología, 33(3), 127-136.
GIRBÉS LLÁCER, B., & MARTÍN JULIÁN, R. (2016). Celos y envidia en el trabajo: una revisión de los últimos 20 años. APUNTES DE PSICOLOGÍA, 33(3), 127–136. Recuperado a partir de https://apuntesdepsicologia.es/index.php/revista/article/view/569