The Harm in Trying to Fix a Broken Person

Emily Stroia
4 min readApr 23, 2019

how to stop being the rescuer

Credit:Happycity21 Istock photo

How can you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

You don’t. You learn to love them.

Have you ever asked that question?

I have many times in my efforts to run to the rescue for the people I loved.

Sometimes the people we love reach a point where we need to learn how to back off.

They may reach a deep place of brokenness.

And it may be incredibly gut wrenching to witness.

It may be natural for us to be caregivers and want to help people.

However sometimes this very act of “help” can do more harm than good.

I’ve learned some powerful lessons about the anguish of trying to save someone from themselves.

Why do we try to fix damaged people?

Sometimes we do it because it is painful to see the person we love suffering.

Caregivers and empaths have innate tendency to want to be of service.

Other times we expend our efforts in trying to save people because it makes us feel good.

We unconsciously take on the “rescuer identity” and don our superhero capes at the site of another person’s distress.

This white knight act may be doing more harm than good.

According to counselor Andrea Mathews, rescuers need to be needed.

“The Rescuer not only depends on her role to give her a sense of self… In other words she needs the Rescuer role just as much, probably more, than the rescued needs rescuing,” says Mathews.

It is possible that in childhood rescuers had to save family members and hence carried this into adult relationships.

While it may give us a sense of purpose it takes away from the other person’s autonomy.

Broken people only need one thing, love.

Emily Stroia

Psych therapist in training. I write about mental health, trauma, well-being, and spirituality. Stay for a while.