Question is in the title, basically. Recently I was talking to a friend who feels like they deserve anything bad that happens to them. I thought this would fall under self-pity, but the person isn't blaming others or blaming factors outside of their control that have put them in their current predicament.

  • 2
    It's not quite what you're looking for, but your description closely parallels a "defeatist". Jun 28, 2016 at 16:36
  • Related but not quite right: remorseful. Why not? Because your friend may, for all we know, consider it worth it. Remorse implies regret, I think.
    – Mathieu K.
    Jun 28, 2016 at 18:05
  • Is it a God thing? Jun 28, 2016 at 19:14
  • An Ancient Mariner, of course.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 29, 2016 at 1:33
  • I quite like "defeatist". I think there is definitely some of that in my friend. Jun 30, 2016 at 8:56

5 Answers 5


I'd use something like "Derisory" (adj.)

expressing a belief that something or someone is ridiculous or without value : expressing derision

-Merriam Webster

So you could say that your friend is self-derisory for not believing they are worthy of good experiences or feelings.

Similarly, and perhaps more commonly: "Deprecating" (v.)

to criticize or express disapproval of (someone or something)

-Merriam Webster

A little less harsh than derision, self-deprecation can often take a humorous slant to self-criticism.

  • I think self-derisory might just be it. I think his unfounded pessimism regarding life does stem from not valuing himself enough. Jun 30, 2016 at 9:00

I can think of a couple of phrases/idioms to echo the word you're trying to come up with such as

what goes around comes around


actions have consequences

If your friend acknowledges these phrases and the existence of karma, which is the belief that rewards follow good deeds while punishments follow bad deeds, then I would describe him or her as feeling "blameworthy". From Merriam-Webster,

being at fault : deserving blame

I chose this word because it seems like your friend feels responsible for a bad deed and deserving of any punishment. Good synonyms include "guilty", "reprehensible", and "culpable". All of these can express your friend's feelings.

  • All good terms, I think. But suppose that the person hasn't necessarily done something bad, but still feels this way? Though I suppose they could be feeling guilt for a deed long since committed. Jun 30, 2016 at 8:53

There is a saying, that misery loves company. It's being comfortable being miserable, It is a self-loathing that is a familiar friend, It is a way of life, that drives a person to accept the abnormal, such as the severity and the cruelties of life as a perverse normality, expected and deserved. It is a redefining of oneself. It is what causes the whip of a Taskmaster, to be felt has purpose, care, and personal attention in the mind of a Slave. It is not what we are born with however it is instilled into us that this is Who We Are, usually through early childhood trauma either or both physical and emotional. As a Christian counselor we use the term "Inferiority Disorder" with the diagnosis of "Social Anxiety complex." It is I think, to prove yourself in a negative area because you are terrified in another area, real or imagined.


Perhaps they have a martyr complex ?

From Wikipedia ...

Martyr complex — In psychology a person who has a martyr complex, sometimes associated with the term victim complex, desires the feeling of being a martyr for his/her own sake, seeking out suffering or persecution because it either feeds a psychological need, or a desire to avoid responsibility.


Self condemnation: The blaming of oneself

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.