The Cinderella complex, when oblivion becomes the norm

The Cinderella complex, when oblivion becomes the norm

The Cinderella complex, when oblivion becomes the norm

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A golden cage preferable to uncertain freedom, as Simone de Beauvoir already said: “women accept their submission to avoid the tension of an authentic life”.

WOMEN – Everyone knows the story of Cinderella. This traditional tale, made famous by Charles Perrault later by the Grimm brothers, in which a young girl, orphan of a kind and kind mother, finds herself almost a slave to her stepmother and her daughters. This young girl is nicknamed Cinderella because she spends all day maintaining the hearth and is therefore covered in ash. Despite her bullying and the teasing of the new family (her father, absent from her, never intervenes to protect her daughter), Cinderella refrains from mean thoughts towards her and continues to put all the heart in work.

Are you starting to see what the Cinderella Complex is? The modern version of Cinderella could be called Sylvie or Nathalie, who struggles at work during the day and keeps coming home: laundry, cooking, housekeeping, homework and more. “chore” waiting for an external element to come to free it or at least to gratify and enhance it … In the fairy tale is he a prince charming, in life a boss? An husband ? That’s it, the interdependence model is in place.

Dedication and daily sacrifices

In this syndrome, there is only one winner. Nathalie puts it all to work, harming herself with repeated symptoms, and she never receives any recognition from her boss who also grants comments to which she never replies. As for Sylvie, it is at home that she set up this plan: she takes care of her husband and her older children, even anticipating their wishes without ever a compliment or even a thank you … She has no time to go anymore. at the gym, at the hairdresser or even have a coffee with her friends. In short, they accept all this grumbling and frustration without trying to emancipate themselves. A golden cage preferable to uncertain freedom, as Simone de Beauvoir already said: “women accept their submission to avoid the tension of an authentic life”.

It was Colette Dowling who gave this name in 1981 “Cinderella complex” starting from the observation of one’s own life. Even if her new partner doesn’t ask her anything, from an independent writer who raises her three children on her own, she turns, of her own free will, into a housewife who cooks good meals, keeps the house spotless, doesn’t invest her career anymore. and ends up not recognizing himself anymore. It was after arguing with his partner that he wrote an article that resonated with a multitude of women who identified with this pattern.

What are the origins of Cinderella’s syndrome?

So ? What is going on in the minds of these women for whom forgetting oneself seems the norm? Does the starting point come from an external imposition or from a self-injunction to put oneself on hold for the benefit of others? Is it a lack of recognition in childhood that causes a little girl to want to double up to be looked at and appreciated? Is it a reproduction of family and social patterns that want us women to be ordered to do everything to feel legitimate? Is it a badly overcome childhood trauma (Cinderella is in mourning for her mother) that prevents her from reacting to orders, to devaluations?

What if it’s not just the gender story of a girl waiting for her release by a prince charming? And if it were multifactorial in fact? Because forty years have passed since 1981 and Saverio Tomasella, in his latest book, shows us that even men show signs of this Cinderella complex. And yes, waiting for external recognition, and certainly illusory, or rushing headlong to work until exhaustion is unfortunately not only a female specialty. The Franco-Swiss psychoanalyst offers us a different reading of the story that allows us not to hear only the poor little victim. He highlights the creativity of the unconscious embodied by the good fairy, her godmother, which allows Cinderella’s wishes not only to be expressed but to finally come true. What to be optimistic to listen to her needs, her desires and above all to make them come true.

How to get out of this syndrome?

Of course, this will inevitably pass through a transformation of the education of girls but also of boys, listening to their desires and above all making them responsible for their realization. Because yesterday’s fairy tales have turned into teen series where the norms of the girl-who-stops-studying-to-follow-a-crazy-rich (as in the Twilight series for example) are still very present. Fortunately, in children’s cartoons, this tends to change gradually: the princesses Mulan or Fiona in Shreck are (assuming at the end of the cartoon) they are on par with the princes. The time has come to change female role models.

  • Step 1: Recognize this functioning at home

Identify actions that may show that we may be in this pattern of behavior. Because awareness is the starting point for any change.

  • Step 2: take responsibility

Return to yourself, your needs and desires, and most importantly, your story. Because yes, the psychological or physical violence suffered in childhood can lead to the appearance of this syndrome, as well as an upbringing without affection or with restrained emotions. Getting in touch with your past and accepting it without guilt will therefore be the second step. It will then be a question of accepting that this scheme exists only if everyone is a stakeholder in the system … Not so easy, but essential.

  • Step 3: ask for help

Getting out of a system is never easy and being accompanied by a professional is a fundamental support, especially in cases of traumatic childhood.

Getting out of a system is never easy and being accompanied by a professional is a fundamental support, especially in cases of traumatic childhood.

See also on L’HuffPost: The mental load in the couple, a problem that he tried to solve by filming his daily life

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