Cinderella complex

Cinderella Complex

Cinderella complex

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The Cinderella complex was first described by Colette Dowling, who wrote a book on women's fear of independence, as an unconscious desire to be taken care of by others, based primarily on a fear of being independent. The complex is said to become more apparent as a person grows older.

Colette Dowling attempts to define women as being motivated by an unconscious desire to be taken care of as a fear of independence termed "Cinderella complex". An important aspect of the work can be defined as identifying an aspect of a larger phenomenon as to why women choose to stay in dysfunctional relationships.

This phenomenon can be defined as a syndrome characterized by a series of specific motivations or causes. Dowling identifies only one motivation, while the syndrome is in fact a combination of many motivations, which are in themselves characteristics that make up a complex.

The term syndrome has been largely used to define conditions apparent in medicine. However, in recent decades the term has been used outside of medicine to refer to a combination of phenomena seen in association.


This complex is named after the fairy tale character Cinderella. It is based on the idea of women that the story portrays, as being beautiful, graceful and polite but who cannot be strong independent characters themselves (although Cinderella does exhibit independence based on her skills and determination), and who must be rescued by an outside force, usually...
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