Could I Be a Loser? Can I Change?

Reader’s Question

Q. I was reading Dr Carver’s article on Identifying Losers, Controllers and Abusers in Relationships. I have discovered that I might be a loser. Is it possible for me to change?

— Brandy

Psychologist’s Reply

A. This is a common question. Many people have some of the Loser characteristics I mention in my article. I’ve often recommended printing the article and taking it to a qualified therapist/counselor after you’ve circled the behaviors that apply to you. We often develop “loser” behaviors by accident. For example, if we are the product of a dysfunctional or “hell raisin'” homelife, our acceptance of aggression, jealousy, and other harmful characteristics becomes very wide. If one of our parents is a Loser/Abuser/Controller we often model their behavior. It’s been my experience that people who have many of the characteristics are often viewed in their family as “he’s just like his grandfather” or “her mother acted the same way”.

When we consider treatment for Loser behaviors, we must also consider something else. It’s important that we separate folks who have always behaved in this manner from those who began these behaviors a short time ago. If you’ve always had problems with these behaviors, the approach mentioned above works best. However, if you’ve only acted in this manner over the past year and these behaviors are considered by others to be unlike or uncharacteristic of you, then you may be experiencing clinical depression or other mental health concern. This is especially true if you also experience sleep/appetite problems, anxiety attacks, excessive guilt, suicidal thoughts, etc. If these additional symptoms and behaviors are present, I’d recommend a mental health evaluation first.

Most important is your interest and willingness to change. There are various resources available in your community and online as well.

Please read our Important Disclaimer.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. Originally published by on and last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

Ask the Psychologist provides direct access to qualified clinical psychologists ready to answer your questions. It is overseen by the same international advisory board of distinguished academic faculty and mental health professionals — with decades of clinical and research experience in the US, UK and Europe — that delivers, providing peer-reviewed mental health information you can trust. Our material is not intended as a substitute for direct consultation with a qualified mental health professional. is accredited by the Health on the Net Foundation.

Copyright © 2021.