White Knight Syndrome
I felt angry after boarding the tram. A lady had asked me if I needed help. I told her I was fine. But when the tram arrived two people lifted me onto it. I did not need their help. They had taken away my dignity. My friend Sandy feels the same about her friend. The friend keeps on coming over to do her housework. When people do things for us it can take away our independence. It can also affect our confidence and self-esteem. It is a common problem.
Posted by: Kate Giles, on 26/10/11
My white cane was all the help I needed
Are you OK? the lady said.
Thank you, I'm fine, was my response. I never thought any more of it until my tram arrived. As I moved forward, two people on either side of me lifted me onto the tram.
I felt angry. Just because I have a white cane, someone had decided I couldn't effectively board a tram without their help. But my white cane was all the help I needed. It was irritating that they had persisted in helping me even though I had declined their offer. I'm sure the couple was well-intended. But they had inadvertently taken away my dignity.
I am not the only one to receive unwanted assistance. Sandy has a friend who won't take no for an answer. It makes Sandy angry.
I cannot put her off, Sandy says.
Just because I have a disability, she keeps coming around and insisting on doing my housework. I know she thinks she is helping, but I am beginning to feel incompetent. She is taking away my freedom to find effective ways to do it myself.
In both cases, Sandy and I were deprived of the ability to choose for ourselves.
Losing abilities is a common part of a disability. Sometimes, we just have to let go of the things we find too difficult. But we also must adapt to new ways of doing things. We may need extra time. We may need extra space. Things we do may be extremely difficult. However, it is still our choice to carry on or to seek help.
When other people make decisions for us, it can deprive us of many things. They include:
- Our dignity
- Our self-esteem
- Our confidence
- Our self-reliance.
Why do so many people keep insisting on helping when we do not want it? Clinical psychologists Mary Lamia and Marilyn Krieger call it The White Knight Syndrome. It's about people who repeatedly seek out others who are vulnerable.
It's a pretty common problem, and it's a real relationship killer, says Dr Krieger.
It frequently leads people into very unhappy circumstances.
Dr Krieger says people can have a heightened sense of empathy because of unresolved issues in their own life. But putting themselves in
another person's shoes can often hurt as well as help others. Unwanted attention tends to cause resentment and anger. It also destroys personal empowerment.
Empowerment and independence
Having others decide what our needs are and what is best for us often does not make us happy. What is more appropriate is someone understanding our need for personal empowerment and independence.
Those who offer genuine assistance should know that they were asked to help in the first place. Or they should know that their offer of help was accepted. They also know the meaning of
no thanks. They should know that it is not acceptable to take over and do things for another person that they can do for themselves.
How do you feel when someone provides help that is not needed or wanted? Let us know in the comments section below.
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