Is there a word for a disease or personality type where a person wants to have problems to gain attention or sympathy. I came across something closer called 'Munchausen Syndrome'. But it is about a person who 'pretends' to have problems, not actually wants to have problems.

Edit: It is not a duplicate of Is there a word for someone who somewhat delights in their illnesses/medications?, because the problems do not necessarily relate to a medical condition. They can be of a financial situation or relationship issues.


4 Answers 4


That's called Martyr complex in psychology.

In psychology a person who has a martyr complex, sometimes associated with the term victim complex, desires the feeling of being a martyr for their own sake, seeking out suffering or persecution because it either feeds a psychical need or a desire to avoid responsibility. [Wikipedia]

Or try self-pity.

Self-pity is an emotion "directed towards others with the goal of attracting attention, empathy, or help" and one in which the subject feels sorry for (feels pity for) themselves. [Wikipedia]

That kind of person is called self-pitying person.

  • 'Martyr Complex' is a closer word but self-pity is the match for the description. Is there any medical name for 'self-pity'?
    – srand9
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 10:15
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    @srand9, I knew a medical term for that.... will have to rack my brain... Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 11:55
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    Munchausen syndrome still applies. Sometimes people with Munchausen syndrome go out of their way to injure themselves because they want attention so badly. But it's Personality Disorder; could be Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 12:01
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    Munchausen syndrome is actually about a person who 'pretends'. And EUPD or BPD doesn't seem to be correct. I'm actually observing a person who is having the symptoms as in my question. Like, the person is perfectly normal and intelligent in all the situations. But the person is attention-seeking to the level they intentionally take the problems onto them. For example, the mentioned person has an own house, but they want to move to a rented house just to make others think that they are poor and no one is helping them. This is an example and there could be other different situations.
    – srand9
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 7:03
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    @srand9, Histrionic: (of behavior) showing a lot of emotion in order to persuade others or attract attention. AND Histrionic personality disorder. I don't think there is a single word for that. Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 18:08


A behavioural trend where people make exaggerated claims about their emotional problems to generate sympathy.

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    What's the source of this definition? Commented Jan 11 at 8:28
  • It's from Wikipedia but you should cite the source of quotations.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 11 at 9:45
  • If you add the reference (link and attribution) you're more likely to attract upvotes, and rep points bring important privileges (and are some measure of credibility). A little more of the article would also be useful; this will be a novel term to many. Commented Jan 11 at 11:40

If the problems are health related, there is the term "hypochondriac".

Also, "attention seeking behavior" is in established use.

  • Hypochondriac is when a person believes that he has a problem. Also, attention seeking behaviour can be by pretending to have a problem. My request is very specific that the person wants to have problems.
    – srand9
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 9:00
  • That's quite specific, I can't think of a term like that.
    – Curiosity
    Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 10:24

The person in question is affected by “Borderline personality disorder

Borderline personality disorder (BPD), also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD), is a mental illness characterized by a long-term pattern of unstable relationships, distorted sense of self, and strong emotional reactions. Individuals often engage in self-harm and other dangerous behavior.


  • They might be affected, but not all will have BPD.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jan 11 at 9:46

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