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Martyr syndrome

I must first mention that this is not a reference to real martyrs, who are amazing people that truly fights for their belief and faith, but for people who thinks that they are one when they are not. This is referring to those people who keep on complaining that they are the only one who does all the work and how they are never acknowledged. I am sure that we all, at one stage of our life or the other, have met one of these people.

The reason I ended up discovering is this was due to me goggling ‘people who think they are a martyr’ and this is due to the last manager who I worked with (the one who caused me to have a depression). This is because she basically keep on going on about how she is doing more work and that to train me is a big sacrifice, and keeping me is a great sacrifice. I am the first to admit that I am not the best worker, but I am certainly not someone who deserve to be constantly put down and mentally beaten up. I remember once I was trying to talk to her about the fact that the work load is getting to an insane level (my work hours were 9am to 6pm and by NZ law, you actually should have an hour break. However, I was ending up working from 9am to 7pm, with only a half hour break). I can’t remember exactly what happened but I think she was saying that I should give more, so I told her that I am already sacrificing a lot, such as there are expenses I don’t claim for myself because the red tape is not worth it. At this, she immediately talk about how she doesn’t (because no one is allowed to suffer something she is not).

So due to me goggling I ended up finding that this is an actual mental illness, and this is pretty much my manager does. She love talking about the sacrifices she made for the company and doing a poor me. So it seems that I am not the only one with mental problem in that department. I am much better now since working with her is basically pretty much what triggered me to feel depressed, so removing myself from that situation helps, but there are still a lot of times when I feel really bad.

But this entry is not about this. I had a read about the martyr syndrome and it is pretty interesting. Well, interesting as in the sense of making you (if you have worked with one) connect the dots.

Definition: Person with martyr syndrome puts everyone else’s need above his or her own so that he or she can suffer for the sake of others and thus give his or her life meaning. However, people with martyr syndrome often suffer needlessly while expecting those around them to shower them with affection because of their sacrifice.


  • The person often complains that their selflessness goes unacknowledged. Feel their sacrifices are under appreciated.

  • Often talk about how difficult life is as they sacrifice so much for others.

  • Person often remind people they make sacrifice and that they deserve acknowledgement and appreciation. Any slight display of attitude that they regard as less then respectful will be seen as insult. The person will get offended easily.

  • Person often talk highly of themselves and talk about themselves as one who choose to sacrifice for a noble cause.

  • Person expects everyone to shower her with sympathy. Want their sacrifice to be admired.

  • Will refuse assistance or deem help received as insignificant. Emphasise they are the one to bear the burden

  • Have little or no life outside work. Often the last one to leave

  • People with the symptom believe that the company will crumble without them.

As I look at this, I can see a lot of the symptom that my last manager had and I wish that I noticed these red flags earlier. The truth is that there were a lot of other signs that I should have picked up. Such as when she said (with great pride) about how her management style is that of a micromanager. But I didn’t actually know that micromanagement meant until I ended up getting a first hand experience in regard to it. Prior to that, I have never been that situation.

If you have the misfortune of working with one, I would like to offer this advice that I saw on the net: when they talk about how they sacrifice everything for work, remember that this is not the norm. You should not be sacrificing your for your work unless maybe this is your company, but even then, there should be a limit. I know that this seems obvious, but the problem when you work with someone so toxic like that for a long time is that you often forget what the norm is. In my last job, I was at the stage when I felt bad at leaving at six (my actual time where I finish work) when this is actually the norm.