PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes Neurotic Solutions Dependent

Neurotic Solution: Masochistic Type 

The strategy of the Masochistic solution can be interpreted from the discussion by John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris of the Self-Sacrificing personality style.

Masochistic Personality Disorder
Self-Sacrificing Personality Type
Self-Effacing Solution 




Neurotic Needs

Compulsive Attachments

Compulsive Aversions

  • being needed
  • being helpful
  • being loved
  • being appreciated
  • pleasing others
  • acceptance
  • approval
  • serving others
  • giving to others
  • being a saint
  • being a good citizen
  • being peaceful
  • being secure
  • deference to others
  • being considerate
  • accepting others
  • being non-judgmental
  • being tolerant
  • philanthropy
  • charity
  • causes
  • serving the family
  • submissiveness
  • asceticism
  • hard work
  • drudgery
  • routine
  • competence
  • loyalty
  • respect for authority
  • being unloved
  • preoccupation with one's own needs
  • competitiveness
  • ambition
  • reproving others
  • being boastful
  • appearing proud
  • being fussed over
  • being the center of attention
  • being in the limelight
  • taking full credit for what one does
  • being taken for granted
  • being taken advantage of
  • being under-recognized
  • receiving pleasure or assistance from others
  • accepting love
  • self-assertion
  • setting limits
  • saying "no"
  • having fun with others
  • unfulfillable obligations to others
  • relaxing
  • enjoying oneself
  • career advancement
  • success
  • asking for favors
  • entitlement
  • delegating work
  • insisting that work be done on time




Neurotic Solution

American Psychiatric Association (1987, pp. 373-74)


Self-defeating behavior. . . .The person may often avoid or undermine pleasurable experiences, be drawn to situations or relationships in which he or she will suffer, and prevent others from helping him or her.



  • chooses people and situations that lead to disappointment, failure, or mistreatment even when better options are clearly available;


  • rejects or renders ineffective the attempts of others to help him of her;


  • following positive personal events (e.g., new achievement), responds with depression, guilt, or a behavior that produces pain ( e.g., an accident);


  • incites angry or rejecting responses from others and then feels hurt, defeated, or humiliated (e.g., makes fun of spouse in public, provoking an angry retort, then feels devastated);


  • rejects opportunities for pleasure, or is reluctant to acknowledge enjoying himself or herself (despite having adequate social skills and the capacity for pleasure);


  • fails to accomplish tasks crucial to his or her personal objectives despite demonstrated ability to do so, e.g., helps fellow students write papers , but is unable to write his or her own;


  • is uninterested in or rejects people who consistently treat him or her well, e.g., is unattracted to caring sexual partners;


  • engages in excessive self-sacrifice that is unsolicited by the intended recipients of the sacrifice;




Neurotic Beliefs and Attitudes 

Rationalizations and reinforcements of the compulsive attachments and aversions and the neurotic solution that they engender.

Derived from Oldham and Morris. 

  • The purpose of life is to serve others (319).
  • My needs can always wait until others are well served (319).
  • To love is to give (319).
  • I must help others even if they haven't asked me to (319).
  • Being ambitious and competing with others is wrong (319).
  • I cannot tolerate being the center of attention (320).
  • I should always anticipate the desires of those I love (320).
  • I must do for and give to everyone I come in contact with (321).
  • Laboring to make others' lives better is what gives meaning to life (321).
  • I cannot tolerate success or pleasure (341).
  • The only way that I can gain inner tranquility is by losing sight of myself in helpfulness to others (321).
  • It's better to avoid receiving rewards, getting attention, and taking credit for good deeds (321).
  • I hate to appear prideful or pushy (322).
  • I work so hard to make others happy, but no one seems to notice or care (322).
  • I feel guilty when receiving special attention (322).
  • I don't want others to do things for me; it makes me uncomfortable (323).
  • Only through giving to others will I be accepted (324).
  • Parents should sacrifice everything for their children (324).
  • I can relax and indulge myself only when I am alone (325).
  • The world is a hard, tough place and my mission is to make things better for other people (326).
  • I will never be able to fulfill my obligations to others (326).
  • I am unworthy and undeserving of love, attention, and pleasure (327).
  • I must always be respectful of those in authority (327).
  • Advancing in my career is not important to me (328).
  • I hate to ask for favors (328).
  • I should avoid positions where I would be responsible for overseeing other people's work and behavior (329). 




Idealized Image


The particular "solution" is idealized (Horney, 1950, pg. 22)


John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (pp. 319-20):


To live is to serve; to love is to give. These are axioms for individuals who have the Self-Sacrificing personality style. The way they see it, their needs can wait until others' are well-served. Knowing that they have given of themselves, they feel comfortable and at peace, secure with their place in the scheme of things. At its best and most noble, this is the selfless, magnanimous personality style of which saints and good citizens are made.


  1. Generosity. Individuals with the Self-Sacrificing personality style will give you the shirts off their backs if you need them. They do not wait to be asked.

  2. Service. Their "prime directive" is to be helpful to others. Out of deference to others, they are noncompetitive and unambitious, comfortable coming second, even last.

  3. Consideration. Self-Sacrificing people are always considerate in their dealings with others. They are ethical, honest, and trustworthy.

  4. Acceptance. They are nonjudgmental, tolerant of others' foibles, and never harshly reproving. They'll stick with you through thick and thin.

  5. Humility. They are neither boastful nor proud, and they're uncomfortable being fussed over. Self-Sacrificing men and women do not like being the center of attention; they are uneasy in the limelight.

  6. Endurance. They are long-suffering. They prefer to shoulder their own burdens in life. They have much patience and a high tolerance for discomfort.

  7. Artlessness. Self-Sacrificing individuals are rather naive and innocent. They are unaware of the often deep impact they make on other people's lives, and they tend never to suspect deviousness or underhanded motives in the people to whom they give so much of themselves. 



Attributes of the Idealized Image


      1. Generosity
      2. Service, helpfulness, deference, non-competitiveness, non-ambitiousness
      3. Considerateness, ethics, honesty, trustworthiness
      4. Acceptance, nonjudgmental-ness, tolerance, never harshly reproving, loyalty, faithfulness
      5. Humility, modesty, self-effacement
      6. Endurance, long-suffering, responsibility, patience, stoicism
      7. Artlessness, naivety, innocence, trustfulness





Neurotic Pride




Neurotic Claims




Neurotic Search for Glory

 The neurotic search for glory is the comprehensive drive to actualize the idealized self. Besides self-idealization it consists of the need for perfection, neurotic ambition, and the drive for vindictive triumph. The need for perfection functions in the personality as, what Horney called, "tyrannical shoulds."

Tyrannical Shoulds








American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed., text revision. Washington: Author.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur M. Freeman and Associates (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Karen Horney (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W. W. Norton.

John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.

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