What is “Hero Syndrome” and why should we be careful of it?

As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility”.  Do you know who originally said that?   Breaking news: It wasn’t an original from the Spider Man movie.  Voltaire coined this phrase.  And that was waaaaaay before Spider Man.

That power and responsibility is attractive.  That hero-like character is an attractive one to follow, right?  I mean, who wouldn’t want to say “I’m friends with Spider Man!  He stopped by my house last night to save me from thieves!”

Admit it, didn’t most of us idolize a few superheroes growing up?  But this responsibility taken too far or misguided or for the wrong reasons… well, at some point it turns into “with great power comes great delusion“.  Sorry friends… I hate to burst your bubbles.  But, strengths pushed too far often times become weaknesses.  


Mr. Incredible


What is Hero Syndrome?  Messiah Complex?  Savior Complex?  Samaritan Syndrome?

Some say it is an innate desire to step in and save the day.  They are even known to fuel moments of chaos so they can step in and rescue others.


The hero is driven by the need for approval, recognition, and/or feeling needed and valued. The need is met briefly by the “high” of being asked to do something, but it is exactly this short-lived high that makes it an addictive cycle. – Laura Berman Fortgang


Don’t get me wrong… there’s nothing wrong with being a good friend, for helping someone out, for helping someone find a way to meet their needs.  But when you put your job at risk, when you sacrifice what’s best for your own family (time, finances, etc), when there are no boundaries between you and your community, when you feel the pressure to please others, when you risk your own well-being on a daily basis, when your motivations are “others driven” you can’t take care of yourself  …

If you’re mostly focused on meeting that addictive desire to feel loved, appreciated and worth-while… it’s no longer your purpose.  It’s an addiction.  It’s attracting friends to you.  They’re telling you things to make you feel better about yourself.  Which feeds even more into that addiction.

Fight against it… set boundaries and say NO and realize that sometimes others need to figure out their problems on their own, learn how to actually ASK for help for the resources they need to tackle a task on their own or GROW UP and deal with it… well, isn’t that better for YOU and for others in the long run?


And this takes me back to a scripture I highlighted just a few days ago:

“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

Ephesians 2:1-10  (The Message)


We have one supreme messiah, hero if you will… his name is Jesus.  And while we can commit our ways and motivations and desires to doing His good work… in the end it is He who has saved us.



And that’s just one more thought that has been rattling around in this blog-brewer I call a brain for several weeks now…  superheroes are over-rated.



more from Laura Berman Fortgang

Chronic Hero Syndrome, article 1

Chronic Hero Syndrome, article 2

Martyr without a Cause



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