Self-punishment is a reality for many people. This is why the “Dobby effect” has become so popular.
If you are familiar with the Harry Potter books, the name Dobby will be familiar to you. Dobby is a house elf who is known for hurting himself every time he does not live up to his master’s expectations.
This character is meant to be funny. But his self-harming behavior terrifies everyone around him. Why would anyone want to hurt themselves?
The Dobby effect is closely linked to the way the lovable elf treats himself. Guilt after doing something that goes against your values, or that most people consider unethical or amoral, is to some degree normal.
However, you have a problem when you constantly punish yourself because you feel guilty about everything. This is a problem as you put too much responsibility on your shoulders.
There are many reasons to feel guilty in our society without having a real reason for it. Guilt often arises because we think we are not living up to other people’s expectations or what we think society expects of us. Here are some examples to help you understand this better:
- To be a bad mother. Many women suffer from postpartum depression. This is a condition that makes them feel extremely guilty. Because according to the literature, becoming a mother is the best thing that can happen to a woman. Therefore, it should lead to complete, eternal happiness. Thus, in most cases where this expectation is not met, guilt will manifest itself.
- You asked for it. Many abused people often justify abuse and violence from their “better” half because of negative actions or attitudes they may have had. Thus, they are not able to leave them because they feel guilty. After all, they asked for it, they applied it to themselves. This is pointed out in the study Self-blame in women who have been beaten by their partners. Implied factors.
There are many other scenarios where a person likes the Dobby effect. For example, the woman who is going through postpartum depression nourishes it by feeling guilty. Likewise , the abused person justifies the abuse they are suffering from. In fact, it is a kind of indirect self-abolition. They do not harm themselves, but simply allow someone else to do so.
The role of responsibility in the Dobby effect
Guilt does not have to be expressed in a harmful way. However, this is the case when it becomes the engine of self-punishment with no other purpose than to suffer. A sense of guilt that becomes perverse when it kills your self-confidence by letting others hurt you. This is what Dobby did.
Sometimes this responsibility that you impose on yourself has been there since your childhood. Maybe your parents put all their frustrations on you. Maybe they told you over and over that you did not deserve things.
All of this remained in your mind, and as you grew, you learned to anticipate that “it’s all your fault” or that “you are a bad person”. Thus, you think you should be punished for it.
The good news is that despite all this, you can escape the Dobby effect. The best way to do that is by doing things that allow you to improve your self-confidence.
Once you have improved your self-concept, you can start to be kinder to yourself and therefore more flexible with your mistakes. But above all, you stop building more responsibility than you should.
If you can identify with the Dobby effect, do not hesitate. Consult a professional who may be able to help you.
Not only does your inner dialogue improve, but so does the way you treat yourself. In this way, you protect yourself from this dangerous phenomenon.