Hero syndrome

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The hero syndrome is a phenomenon affecting people who seek heroism or recognition, usually by creating a desperate situation which they can resolve. This can include unlawful acts, such as arson. The phenomenon has been noted to affect civil servants, such as firefighters, nurses, police officers,and security guards.

Acts linked with the hero syndrome should not be confused[why?] with acts of malice because acts linked with the hero syndrome imply that the act is to be reversed by the perpetrator(s) or the accomplice(s) of the perpetrator. For example, a punished firefighter exacting revenge or an insatiable level of excitement, as was found in a federal study of more than 75 firefighter arsonists.[1] However, acts of the hero syndrome have been linked to previously failed heroism. The hero syndrome may also be a more general yearning for self-worth. People with hero syndrome will usually cause an accident and pretend to help. In corporate environments, the Hero syndrome manifests itself when the protagonist suffering the syndrome creates supposed, implied or ostensible crises only to eventually resolve them thereby becoming the saviour of the day, the hero of the moment. The ulterior motive for these actions can sometimes be to show that the sufferer is a valuable asset to the company, when there is an abundance of factual evidence to the contrary.


A screening method has been developed, based on the case that those who commit the acts are generally young and are looking for an opportunity to prove or flaunt their bravery. However, there are no formal scientific studies on the hero syndrome.[1]


  1. ^ a b Cave, Damien (2004-08-02). "Experts Say 'Hero Syndrome' Not Common Among Police". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-06-13.

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