General Question

TaoSan's avatar

Do people that have suffered a lot seek out situations that will cause them to suffer again or even attract them?

Asked by TaoSan (7083points) April 23rd, 2009

I have dug out a couple of studies, but they only seem marginally reliable for various reasons.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think that enough suffering will cause a person to run from one pain to the next?

Abuse victims finding the next abuser. junkies switching from one drug of choice to the next, etc. etc. etc.

Can you “avert” happiness, or is it even karma? Examples?

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16 Answers

hug_of_war's avatar

I think it’s something more in their personality than anything else. I mean I think most people have undergone a lot more suffering than they would let on, but it seems only some people seem attracted to it.

avalmez's avatar

Munchuasen syndrome may be an example of a condition that causes one to seek attention through the suffering of others, but in this case, the other is caused to suffer by the attention seeker. so, maybe doesn’t directly map to your question.

knitfroggy's avatar

I think some people can’t be happy unless they are unhappy-like they love to cause drama and have turmoil. I have never understood this, but I have known several people in life that are like this. I don’t know what causes it-maybe they like some “excitement”.

As far as someone who grew up with an abusive father and then marries an abuser-I’ve never understood that. I guess to them that is “normal”? I think they know on a basic level that it’s not right, but that’s all they know.

GoldieAV16's avatar

I do think that people get addicted to drama. And the best dramas involve suffering, with the person who’s addicted at the center of it. What’s weird is that once they become addicted, there’s a perverse pleasure in the suffering. You can tell because they light up telling you all about it.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s cyclical. People suffer and if they’re not mindful of the actions they can project suffering on to others. Sometimes it’s unintentional, other times it’s deliberate. When people project their suffering it has the effect of being reciprocated. Either that happens or people can also decide to hang on to the hurt.

Dog's avatar

Often times we as humans will gravitate to what is familliar even if it means living under unsatisfactory or unhealthy conditions.

My cousin is a social worker and told me that often children who have been abused do not want to be removed from the home. It is all they have known and often they feel they do not deserve any better.

When a person seeks out unhealthy relationships to replace unhealthy relationships perhaps they need to examine themselves to learn why. Why do they feel they do not deserve better?

jlm11f's avatar

As some others said, I think it has to do more with the individual’s personality and self esteem rather than a broad generalizing concept. You have to decide for yourself that you will not allow yourself to be in that same position ever again because you deserve better. This obviously doesn’t come easily and takes time to develop. The best thing a person can do to break the vicious cycle is talk to people, identify for themselves what they want out of relationships/life and decide on the kind of situations they are going to avoid in the future. Often, putting this down in writing helps because even if you do go back, the writing helps remind you of your path and helps steer you back in the right direction. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate “Dear Diary” kind of thing.

To give an example from my life, I am one of those people that others gravitate to for all sorts of advice. Needless to say, that has put me in some really emotional and overdramatic situations and the outcome has almost always been me putting too much emotional effort and time into someone else’s problems when the root of their problem is them, themselves. Certain people just love drama and love to cause it/be a victim of it, others (like me) feel a need to solve everyone’s problems. It’s the savior complex. Now what I do differently is that I make it a point to consciously choose whose life/problems I should be a part of and who I should avoid. I have trouble saying No to people and yet I have managed to start telling certain people that “I am sorry, but I really don’t want to be involved in this at all.” Initially I thought saying that would be considered rude and hurtful, but the more I do it, the better I feel about myself and my decision. This way, I can also focus on my life/problems (which I had been avoiding for quite some time) and pay better attention to situations involving people I actually do care about.

Sorry about that last paragraph ^. I think I went off on a tangent and just started rambling. But my point was that I am no longer “seek[ing] out situations that will cause them [me] to suffer again” and so it can be done =].

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Like hug_of_war says, I believe most people have gone through some degree of suffering which gives them a sense of commonality. Some will be attracted to that sense of belonging and others will train themselves to avoid putting too much into those associations so they can continue growing emotionally, positively.

TaoSan's avatar


Stellar answer…


Yeah, I see what you mean…

Actually, you mean Munchhausen by proxy


good answers, lurve all around

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

I have been, at times, an emotional masochist. My reasoning behind it was that it is just familiar now. I had forgotten how to be happy. Luckily it’s a curable condition.

wundayatta's avatar

I think there are a couple of different ways this plays out. One is an interior thing. This is how the person sees their life. Always with drama. It’s a way to get attention, and to get people involved with them. It’s a way to bind friends to them, and get sympathy; maybe even help. Certainly a listening ear.

The other form is people who really are in bad shape. They might be there because they are born there, or because of health issues, or because they aren’t capable of making good choices. People born into poverty have a hell of a time making it through life, and often suffer one disaster after another because of it. People with health problems, often lose all their money trying to care for themselves, and then end up in poverty, and suffer one disaster after another because of it. People who make bad choices also end up in poverty and suffer one disaster after another because of it.

Hmm, there’s a theme there. Poverty leads to suffering in our culture. Perhaps in every culture. Poverty, too, is a frame of mind, because it is based on expectations. You can be very poor and still be happy, if you are grateful for what you have. You can be rich and unhappy if you always expect much more than you have. Suffering, I think, comes from a large gap between one’s expectations, and one’s actual situation, and the belief that one can not ever get what one expects to have.

Garebo's avatar

.Very good question, I grapple with this question often and I wish I knew..

jo_with_no_space's avatar

Great question. There is definitely a kind of “victim mentality” whereby people can get stuck in a negative cycle of life events. Perhaps they may often feel powerless to get out of it. What that person would need is some exercises in feeling in control of small aspects of the environment around them. There is always a way to change, but this is about empowering people to see that they can find their way out.

Jude's avatar

I’ve been through a helluvalot and you know, now I do my damndest to stay away from drama. I try to eliminate stress in my life as much I can. I hate feeling freakin’ drained. I’m pretty choosy when it comes to friends and when it comes to family drama, I tend to distance myself.

hotgirl67's avatar

I think that some people out there are addicted to drama and even thrive on it, but most people if they have suffered immensely in some way don’t want to relive the experience.I agree with hug of war and dog.

yellowGLI's avatar

I have a friend she has been through a lot, poverty, jail and homeless at times. However I have done much to help her get out of her situation and so has others but she continually goes around friends of hers that have done time in prison and are involved in dramatic situations that drag her back down. This is the reason I have looked for answers to this question, to try to find some understanding. She has family and good friends that care for her but she runs in the other direction. I thought there would be some psychological study for something like this.

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