In psychology a person who has a martyr complex, sometimes associated with the term "victim complex", desires the feeling of being a martyr for their own sake and seeks out suffering or persecution because it either feeds a physical need or a desire to avoid responsibility. In some cases, this results from the belief that the martyr has been singled out for persecution because of exceptional ability or integrity.[1] Other martyr complexes involve willful suffering in the name of love or duty. This has been observed especially in poor families, as well as in codependent or abusive relationships.[2][3] The desire for martyrdom is sometimes considered a form of masochism.[4] Allan Berger, however, described it as one of several patterns of "pain/suffering seeking behavior", including asceticism and penance.[5] Theologian Paul Johnson considers such beliefs a topic of concern for the mental health of clergy.[6]

See also



  1. ^ Davis, Sheldon E. (September 1945). "What Are Modern Martyrs Worth?". Peabody Journal of Education. 23 (2): 67–68. doi:10.1080/01619564509535934.
  2. ^ Lewis, Oscar (October–December 1949). "Husbands and Wives in a Mexican Village: A Study of Role Conflict". American Anthropologist. 51 (4): 602–610. doi:10.1525/aa.1949.51.4.02a00050.
  3. ^ Kutner, Nancy G. (March 1975). "The Poor Vs. the Non-poor: an Ethnic and Metropolitan-Nonmetropolitan Comparison". The Sociological Quarterly. 16 (2): 250–263. doi:10.1111/j.1533-8525.1975.tb00943.x.
  4. ^ Seligman, David B. (May 1970). "Masochism". Australasian Journal of Philosophy. 48 (1): 67–75. doi:10.1080/00048407012341471.
  5. ^ Berger, Allen S. (September 2003). "Choosing to Suffer: Reflections on an Enigma". Journal of Religion and Health. 42 (3): 251–255. doi:10.1023/A:1024843702805.
  6. ^ Johnson, Paul E. (January 1970). "The emotional health of the clergy". Journal of Religion and Health. 9 (1): 50–50. doi:10.1007/BF01533165.