"I am just trying to save the world": How would you identify a toxic mediator?
I am writing an article on the legal profession's version of the helper syndrome. This syndrome results in a person helping others in order to ease his or her own pain or to ignore his or her own problems. Because of the lack of clarity or self-awareness on the part of the "helper," the results of the helping intervention can often be worse than nothing at all. The service professions frequently attract people who exhibit the helper syndrome. Even for the mentally healthy, the service relationship can be tricky.
A major consideration, and one that should be held steadfastly in the back of every professional's mind, is that the helping relationship is typically asymmetric: people are not on equal footing. Asymmetric relationships bring with them many potential problems, including dependence, resentment, and suspicion. A key antidote to those perils is the client or helpee maintaining autonomy and self-determination in as large a measure as appropriate and possible.