Home FEATURED ARTICLE HOME PAGE The Sweetie Pie Syndrome by Ronan M. Kisch, Ph.D.

The Sweetie Pie Syndrome by Ronan M. Kisch, Ph.D.

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The Problem
Sweetie Pie Syndrome typically starts in childhood — it is usually characteristic of females, but it does occur in males. This condition begins as young children are either ignored by or are demeaned by a parent or parents. This behavior can also be role modeled by a parent. As a result of this chronic neglect, abuse, for example, these children develop a sense that a) there is something wrong with them, b) they are basically unlovable, and/or c) if they do not do things to be accepted, they are unworthy. They then develop a behavioral repertoire of constantly trying to do good things and help others to gain a sense of worthiness and lovability. But no matter what or how much they do, the dysfunctional parent perpetually ignores or fails to respond with recognition, positive reinforcement and love.
 So, the children invest in doing more. These children attempt to demonstrate their value by constantly bringing with them the habit of helping others. As these individuals mature, they bring this basic self-concept of unworthiness along with them to progressive developmental stages—they must keep doing more, to no avail.

There is yet another aspect to the Sweetie Pie personality. It is a longing to be accepted by someone like the parent who was authoritarian and unwilling or unable to be emotionally accepting. They are drawn to self-serving, entitled mates hoping to receive the empathy and tender, loving care that they never received from their similar parents. And because they are sweet, passive, only too willing to be giving, responsive, and silent regarding their own needs, they are targeted by emotionally insensitive, self-serving, often narcissistic partners. They are naive to what was role modeled for them by parents in childhood and their domineering spouses in adulthood. This is what they experienced as they grew up and is unconsciously replicated in their adulthood. As life goes on in their relationships or marriages, they become more and more disillusioned with their relationship, but they push their feelings down and they remain disquieted but silent. Their spouses’ negativity is not challenged. Or, when confronted, it is minimized, ignored or responded to with reverse blaming.

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