Savior Syndrome: If You Help Everyone Else, Who Helps You?

Are you always trying to save others? Does this make you feel important or loved? In this article, you'll find out how to start focusing on yourself, instead.
Savior Syndrome: If You Help Everyone Else, Who Helps You?

Last update: 10 October, 2022

Maybe you’ve never thought about it before, but could you be suffering from rescuer syndrome? When you’re attracted to people who have a problem and you want to help them, you may devote all your energy to trying to rescue them.

It’s not uncommon to meet people who need help. However, if you always attract friends who need a helping hand or partners with this profile, you’re probably suffering from the savior syndrome. In this case, your relationships become vertical, instead of horizontal, a concept that psychologist Arun Mansukhani talks about.

There’s no reciprocity here. You give, the other receives, and that’s it.

How does the savior syndrome develop?

The savior syndrome doesn’t come out of nowhere. However, like many others, it develops during childhood and adolescence. It’s at this age that personality and emotional wounds are formed.

Those who have been identified with this syndrome have had to be responsible as children with things that were really the responsibility of adults. Perhaps, parents who separate and who are not managing the divorce well cause a child to have to start growing up before his or her time. Those who should be looking after their welfare are not doing so.

The result of all this is a need that has not been met. There is a demand for love, affection, attention, and satisfaction that hasn’t been present.

Savior syndrome and divorce
A poorly managed divorce can cause savior syndrome in the child, which will be expressed in their future relationships.

We think you may be interested in reading this, too: What is Healthy Selfishness and How Can You Practice It?

How can you tell if you suffer from savior syndrome

You may have identified with what we’ve mentioned here. Savior syndrome is much more common than we think.

Psychologist Silvia Congost deals with this issue in a very clear way in an interview she was given on television some time ago. This is how she explained that we could identify whether or not we suffer from the savior syndrome. Let’s take a look.

You have the need to give what you haven’t been given

When you suffer from the savior syndrome, you try to give to others what you have not been able to give yourself. You empathize in a very strong way with people who are in a delicate situation, and you always try to resolve their problems.

You take their situations as if they were your own. It’s as if you owe them something. However, in reality, you owe something to yourself: self-esteem.

You look for recognition in others

Another aspect that is usually present if you suffer from savior syndrome is that you unconsciously look for recognition. You want phrases like “thank you, you saved my life” or “what would I do without you!”

This makes you feel good because you’re getting what you lacked as a child. Therefore, you need it.

You think others don’t give 100%

Surely you’ve probably complained at some point about the fact that you don’t perceive that the rest of the people for whom you give your all do the same for you. They don’t reward you in the same way.

You’ve forgotten that relationships are 50-50. When you give so much, you don’t allow others to contribute.

Circumstance feeds back into your perception that others are still not meeting your needs. That is, the deficiencies of childhood return.

Savior syndrome also causes problems in relationships
Complaints can be common in relationships when someone has savior syndrome because they often perceive that their partner isn’t giving their 100%.

How can you get over savior syndrome?

Once you’ve realized that it’s very possible that you have savior syndrome, it’s time to take control and overcome it. For this, the most important thing is that you go to a professional psychologist.

The professional will be able to help you face your fears, and those unmet needs that you’ve been trying to alleviate by turning to others. Therapy may take a long time, but it will work.

Another piece of advice is that you have to stop treating people as if they were incapable or helpless beings. They’re adults now and they can make their own decisions, make mistakes, and solve them themselves.

You don’t have to do it for them. Now it is difficult, but with therapy, you will be able to take small steps forward.

Finally, you must learn to love yourself a lot. You’ve been shortchanged as a child, and this has led you to this situation, but you know what? Now you’re an adult, and you must provide your inner child with everything he or she lacked. However, you have to do this from yourself – not from that part of you that turns to others.

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.

  • Riso, W. (2008). ¿Amar o Depender? Barcelona: Norma SA Editorial.
  • Riso, W. (2008). Amores altamente peligrosos: los estilos afectivos de los cuales sería mejor no enamorarse: cómo identificarlos y afrontarlos. Editorial Norma.

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