Savior complex or white knight syndrome refers to the excessive need to caretake or save others.
It is also one trait of codependency.
Codependents are naturally giving, sacrificing, and consumed with the needs and desires of others.
What Is Savior Complex?
A savior complex, or white knight syndrome, refers to the need to “save” people by fixing their problems.
People with savior complex only feel good about themselves if they’re helping someone and expend so much of their energy and time to fix others to the point where they end up burning out.
Caretaking and Codependency
Caretaking is the hallmark of codependency.
Codependency can lead to anxiety, depression, and relationship issues.
Codependents may believe that the cause of their pain is outside of themselves, such as a partner or a troubled child. However, on closer examination, they can begin to see that their behaviors and thinking patterns are dysfunctional and are responsible for their pain.
Childhood shame and trauma can make codependents develop a persona that reacts to their imagined ideal of who they should be in order to feel acceptable to others and to themselves.
You may not be aware of your self-criticism, but it still operates beneath your conscious awareness.
Because of their low self-esteem and lack of boundaries, codependents may tolerate being treated without respect and not feel entitled to compliments or to be truly loved. In fact, they may believe that they need to work so hard and do more than their partner in a relationship to earn love.
Shame and a low sense of self-worth may also cause codependents to deny their feelings and needs, both to themselves and in their relationships.
Because of their confusion around boundaries and responsibilities to themselves and to others, codependents believe that it’s the other person’s job to make them feel happy and loved just as it is their job to make others happy. This usually causes resentment and unfulfillment.
Caretaker Vs Caregiver
Caretaking is a dysfunctional behavior that is rooted in insecurity and a need to be in control.
It comes with strings attached and leaves you feeling exhausted and frustrated.
The caretaker tends to attract needy, unhealthy people.
Healthy caregiving entails listening to other people’s feelings and needs and allowing them to find their own solutions.
This means respecting the other person’s separateness and boundaries and offering support without feeling the guilt or urge to fix their problems.
The caregiver recognizes that it isn’t their job to save people or change them.
|It leaves you feeling exhausted and frustrated.||It energizes you and inspires you to give more.|
|It crosses boundaries.||It honors boundaries.|
|It comes with strings attached.||It gives freely.|
|It doesn’t consider the caretaker’s needs.||It honors the caregiver’s needs.|
|Caretakers believe they know what’s best for the other person.||Caregivers listen to other people’s needs.|
|Caretakers don’t trust others’ abilities to care for themselves.||Caregivers trust other’s ability to solve their own problems|
|Caretakers tend to attract needy people.||Caregivers tend to attract emotionally healthy people.|
To summarize, caretaking comes with strings attached and is rooted in insecurity and a need to be in control. Caregiving gives freely and is an expression of love.
- The Lived Experience of Codependency: an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis | SpringerLink
- Codependency: An Empirical Study from a Systemic Perspective | SpringerLink
- Living with Addicted Men and Codependency: The Moderating Effect of Personality Traits – PMC (nih.gov)
- Measuring codependents’ close relationships: a preliminary study – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Co-Dependency | Mental Health America (mhanational.org)
- Codependency: What Are The Signs & How To Overcome It (positivepsychology.com)
- Codependent relationships: Symptoms, warning signs, and behavior (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Codependency of the Members of a Family of an Alcohol Addict – ScienceDirect