The Rescuer Complex ver. 1.0.4
“The Top Gun National Troubleshooter,” Retired
Much information has been written on the subject of “The Rescuer Complex.” On subjects such as “Adult Children of Alcoholics,” [i] it has been observed that the rescue complex is inevitable in children that grow up in alcoholic homes or drug addiction homes. This observation has been expanded to include “very religious parents.” Transactional analysis [ii] describes the rescuer complex as one who continually rescues a victim from an aggressor. In transactional analysis, the aggressor is from the victim’s and rescuer’s perspective. The rescuer complex can be directed toward the opposite sex. This behavior has been observed of a teaching pastor in a local church who constantly came to the rescue of women in his church. Unfortunately, the supposed aggressor now becomes the victim of the aggressive rescuer. Thus this cycle of aggressor, victim and rescuer continues in a cycle. The supposed aggressor is now the victim, and the rescuer the new aggressor, so who is going to rescue the new victim from the new aggressor? The new rescuer is usually called “the organization,” as by now this is an organizational issue.
The Authoritarian and the Authoritative Parent
On reading Dr. Kevin Leman’s latest book “The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are,” [iii] this writer noticed his definition of authoritarian and the authoritative parent, and the different results produced in the children who grow up in these two very different homes. Other authors have denoted alcoholic parents or very religious parents as having an aggressive communication style; [iv] Dr. Leman now describes them as authoritarian parents. Authoritarian parents can also be denoted as parents who have an “I win, you lose” communication style.
A definition of authoritarian and authoritative parents was reported in study by The University of California, Berkeley in 2003: [v]
“The authoritative parent attempts to shape, control and evaluate the behavior and attitudes of the child in accordance with a standard of conduct, usually an absolute standard, theologically motivated and formulated by a higher authority. …………”
“The authoritative parent attempts to direct the child’s activities in a rational, issue-orientated manner. She encourages verbal give and take, shares with the child the reasoning behind her policies, and solicits his objections when he refuses to conform. ………..”
This writer was identified, by his sergeant of flight-line jet engine mechanics in support of LBJ’s war in Vietnam, as a natural born troubleshooter. That was over fifty troubleshooting years ago and what has been indelibly etched in this mind is this: “Before attempting to solve a problem, the problem must first be properly defined; failure to properly define the problem before solving the problem and taking action on the resulting solution will result in a bigger problem to solve.” Having properly defining a problem the solution will be obvious.”
The contrast between these two definitions – authoritarian and authoritative parents – presents a very well-defined problem to the origin of The Rescuer Complex being the direct result of a parent’s authoritarian, aggressive, “I win, you lose” communication style, regardless of the type of dysfunctional family of origin, be it alcohol or drug addiction, et al.
Now that the problem has been properly defined the solution should be obvious. Is it any wonder why many people with this “Rescue Complex” find themselves in a church? The main mission of the Christian Church is to “Rescue (Save) People”. Finding the solution to their “Rescue Complex” is the responsibility of the individual.
[i] Janet G. Woititz , “Adult Children of Alcoholics”, Health Communication Inc. , Nov 1, 1990
[ii] Eric Berne, “Games People Play”: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis., Aug 27, 1996
[iii] Dr. Kevin Leman “The Birth Order book”, Revell pub., 2009
[iv] Ibid i
[v] Diana Baumrind, http://persweb.wabash.edu/facstaff/hortonr/articles%20for%20class/baumrind.pdf, EBSCO Pub. 2003, PP 890-91