What is Rescuer Syndrome? Do you know people who are used to imposing their help and giving advice to everyone around? This is the rescue syndrome. Let’s figure out how “rescue” manifests itself in life, where it comes from, and how to work it out if you notice a desire for such behavior in yourself.

Rescuer Syndrome

Signs and Symptoms of Rescuer Syndrome

“And who will Nastya study for after school?” – “For a psychologist” – “Oh … It would be better for an economist.” I go out into the yard with a baby in the summer, and a neighbor, looking in our direction: “Mommy, put a hat on the child.” I publish a book, I share the process on Instagram, and I get a message from a stranger: “We need to make not a paper book, but an electronic one, no one reads paper ones.”

when the advice rushed in your direction without your request. The next level is not only advice but actions that, in the opinion of a person, should make your life better and easier. The difference between help and “rescue” is that people ask for help, and the “rescuer” is used to “catching up and doing good.” It becomes a way for him to satisfy his own needs.

Rescue symptoms:

  • You often have a strong desire to solve someone else’s problem or make someone else’s tasks easier.
  • You often strive to change the other person’s feelings, to “make” them feel better.
  • You periodically feel guilty about the actions or inactions of another person.
  • You often strive at all costs to convince the other to make the “right” choice (the right one in your opinion, of course).
  • You prefer to immediately solve the problem, rather than listen to what inconvenience and suffering it causes to another.

Any of us should listen to ourselves and make sure not to fall into “rescue”, and those who work in the field of helping others or are associated with mentoring should be doubly vigilant. From time to time check yourself with the list of statements below:

  • I can’t stop thinking about someone else’s problem.
  • It is not easy for me to find time for myself and my interests.
  • I always offer help to those who don’t realize they’re having a hard time.
  • I easily make decisions for someone who asked for help.
  • My colleagues feel like members of my family.
  • I’m uncomfortable accepting help from others, I’d rather do everything myself.
  • Helping others makes me very tired.

The more “yes” answers, the more likely you are to have rescuer syndrome.

Impact of Rescuer Syndrome on Individuals

Most often, this pattern of behavior is laid down for a number of reasons.

The child’s needs were ignored as a child

If in childhood the child did not receive enough care, then, growing up, he may unconsciously show hyper-care towards others, compensating for the lack of attention to himself. The concept of “Proflection” means precisely the desire to do for other people what you want to receive from them for yourself. Most often, “rescuers” are people who were not popular among their peers and those who did not feel enough support and approval in their lives. In this way, they try to get the praise that their parents and environment turned out to be incapable or stingy.

Desire for dominance

Advice, in fact, is an indication of how another should act. When “rescuers” give advice, explaining what and who should do it, they feel like patrons. This is how imperiousness and the desire to command, and lead someone are manifested.

Fear of the randomness of life

The unpredictability of life events causes anxiety and fear. The Rescuer regulates others in order to feel safe. By controlling someone’s choices, actions, or course of life, he has the illusion that helping or advising other people can prevent trouble and influence the future.

Difficulty handling other people’s strong feelings

Not everyone is able to withstand other people’s experiences. Have you ever cried because of a difficult situation in the company of a friend and in the company of a partner? Have you noticed that it is easier for a woman to empathize and sympathize, while a man tries to immediately find a solution, find those responsible, and solve the problem? To cope with the discomfort or anxiety caused by other people’s emotions, “rescuers” are ready to do anything to make you smile, even if you just returned from a funeral and are heartbroken.

 Unwillingness to deal with their own problems

Saving others from toxic relationships and untidy apartments, looking for a doctor for a colleague and a dance studio for a sister, spending all weekends volunteering at different funds, there is simply no time to live your life and solve your problems. And in a sense, it is very convenient – feeling your importance for others, not touching your own problems. So what if the next relationship fell apart, the wallpaper came off at home and the extra weight came from somewhere? On the other hand, I found a friend of a foreign husband and wrote letters instead of her, helped my friends with the renovation of the dacha, and you are not too lazy to look for and send to your mother all new diets and recommendations from nutritionists …

Impact of Rescuer Syndrome

Thin line: real help or disservice

When people meet their needs in a “help others” style, it becomes a way of life. As soon as the “rescuers” see, hear, and feel that someone has difficulties, they instantly appear on the horizon to solve the problem, give advice, and encourage. Not because they were asked, but because they have an irresistible desire to fix and fix everything.

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As you can see, “rescue” is called the help that no one asked for. The “rescuer” violates someone’s personal boundaries with his actions and therefore does not hear the praise he was counting on. “Ah well? Didn’t appreciate my gesture? Selfish!” – he thinks, and people simply did not need any advice, consolation, or support.

How to work Rescue

If you feel that salvation is also characteristic of you, there is good news – you can work with it. First of all, it is important to focus attention on yourself. What do I want for myself? What do I feel? What happens to me when I see someone who needs help? Why should I help? Understand correctly – getting rid of the rescuer syndrome does not mean becoming a stale cracker and refusing to help everyone, it means helping in an environmentally friendly way. What does it mean?

How to work Rescue

  • Don’t help someone who doesn’t ask for it. If an elderly person is dragging a heavy bag, it’s a different matter, but even in this situation, it is worth first offering help: “Let me help you.”
  • Remember that a person cannot be completely helpless (the exception is incapacitated people and people who are unconscious).
  • When helping another, do not take on most of the task – the one who needs help should take on at least half.
  • If a person complains about his helplessness in any matter, help him see other sources of strength and opportunity.
  • Leave people to make decisions and be responsible for them.
  • Do not do anything that is contrary to your principles and values.


1. Can Rescuer Syndrome lead to burnout?

Yes, constantly prioritizing the needs of others over your own can lead to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion, which is commonly known as burnout.

2. Is it wrong to help others?

Helping others is a noble and compassionate act. However, it becomes problematic when it consistently neglects your own well-being and boundaries, leading to Rescuer Syndrome.

3. How can I set healthy boundaries without feeling guilty?

Setting boundaries is essential for self-care. Remember that it’s okay to say no and prioritize your own needs. Communicate your boundaries assertively and remind yourself that taking care of yourself is not selfish.

4. Can therapy be helpful in overcoming Rescuer Syndrome?

Yes, therapy can be highly beneficial in addressing and overcoming Rescuer Syndrome. A therapist can provide guidance, and support, and help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and self-care strategies.

5. Is it possible to find a balance between helping others and taking care of oneself?

Absolutely! It’s important to find a balance between helping others and prioritizing self-care. Recognize that taking care of yourself enables you to show up in a more sustainable and effective way for others.