Subjective Secondary Gain

There’s an old term in psychology called “secondary gain.” I prefer to call it “subjective secondary gain.” This refers to what you’re really getting out of something that is otherwise irrational. Another way I once heard it put was, “How does the symptom serve the system?” This means that the depressed, compulsive or otherwise neurotic person is getting something out of his or her problems. It might be something obvious such as attention or pity; or it might be something less obvious though relevant to what motivates the particular person. I call it “subjective” secondary gain because it almost certainly does not refer to something that objectively advances the person’s life. Rather, it undermines it. Such a phenomenon would be rare if human beings strove to live by rational ideas and a rational philosophy of life. However, since most ideas adopted and internalized by people range from the silly to the insanely destructive, it’s not at all surprising that many people get a perverse pleasure or interest out of their emotional maladies.