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Talking to Crazy by Mark Goulston

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chapter 17

Executive Order

Getting a Martyr to Accept Help

Do you know people who simply refuse to ask for help, no matter how overwhelmed they become? This is an interesting kind of crazy that masquerades as selflessness but actually stems from an intense fear of hearing the word no.

These people think of themselves as self-sacrificing and even noble. (A classic example is the martyr mom, who insists on doing all the chores and waiting on her family hand and foot while expecting nothing in return.) In reality, however, they can’t ask for help because unconsciously they know that getting a no in response will infuriate them—especially if they feel entitled to a yes. That’s because (much like those splitters I talked about in Chapter 14) they’ve ...

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