The martyr archetype becomes strong in us through the unconscious belief that suffering is noble and that other women who refuse to suffer in the same way are betraying us. This puts women in a double-bind- “If I’m powerful, I will lose relationships, yet if I shrink and stay small, I lose myself.”
This is partly a by-product of oppression. Those who have been oppressed are the best at oppressing other people in their group. Women are best at oppressing women.
The martyr archetype arises from un-mourned trauma that has become an identity which one protects and refuses to release– simply for fear of the pain that lies beneath it. This can manifest itself in many different forms between women. It also happens intergenerationally. For example, an older woman may unconsciously feel inferior to her bright young daughter and may have a fear of being surpassed or forgotten. Instead of working through these difficult feelings on…
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