I promised myself a long time ago to use words as tools for the job they’re designed to do, and not for their effectiveness as weapons to make one’s adversaries crawl away with their tails between their legs. Well, I was reviewing some comments that Pathet Lao made to one of my posts from last summer where he fingered me for having a martyr complex.
“Martyr complex” was definitely one of those terms that sounded like it was being lobbed at me like a hand grenade, more in the interest of damaging me than in making me stop to think about how I’m behaving. I figured this is one of those terms that I wanted to take apart and understand a little bit better.
My first step toward understanding the martyr complex of course was Wikipedia, which said that a person affected with this disorder desires to become a martyr strictly for his/her own sake, seeking out suffering or persecution because it feeds a psychological need. This begs the question of what kind of hole in one’s soul is such an individual trying to fill.
Krishna Kumar, a software development manager from New Hampshire, has what I believe to be very good information on people with martyr complexes in his blog, Thought Clusters. He contends that martyrs are chronic complainers, and quick to pick fights with anyone with whom they disagree. Problems are never solved to their satisfaction unless solved exactly to their specifications, and even then the martyr will go on to find something else of which to complain.
Here’s the really big thing that I am trying to find out: Does the Christian faith tend to fuel martyr complexes? I would dare to say that it does. As a Christian, I have something on which I can—perhaps unfairly—blame the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. Take for instance what I wrote in my last post about crashing and being unable to turn off a rain generator in a virtual church in Second Life. Where an atheist might say, “Crap happens. Swallow it and move on,” I am far too quick to blame it on God. To my mind, He is overeager to teach me some harsh lesson or another. There is always something wrong with my thinking, and He will not hesitate to try to fix it.
I’m martyrish, but am I so dangerously so as to need to make a beeline for the nearest psychiatrist? I don’t think so. I can appreciate when good things happen and I don’t complain constantly as real martyr sufferers do. I like to think that writing down my thoughts on an almost daily basis and reading them after several months down the line helps me to sort myself out.
Face it. I can’t afford a shrink.