Sisyphus syndrome

Sisyphus syndrome2016-12-07T01:06:11+00:00

Sisyphus syndrome

Sisyphus image from New Medical Terms

Sisyphus and boulder


A term referring to the mindset typical of stressed, self-driven type As—read, doctors—who get little to no self-gratification for accomplishing the difficult goals they place on themselves

One is tempted to feel sorry for Sisyphus of Greek mythology because of that rolling-a- boulder-up-a hill-for-eternity thing. Fight the urge; he wasn’t a nice guy. He was founder and first king of Ephyra (Corinth). He promoted navigation and commerce, but was avaricious and deceitful, violating the laws of hospitality by killing travellers and guests. He was crafty: he seduced his niece, took his brother’s throne, spilled Zeus’ secrets, and chained up Thanatos–death personified, during which time no human could die. Ares, the god of warfare, bored of battles in which no one died, freed Thanatos and sent Sisyphus to Tartarus (hell). Sisyphus managed to sweet talk Persephone into letting him go topside to Corinth for shore leave, but once there, refused to return. Hermes dragged him back to Tartarus and Zeus–who was none too pleased that Sisyphus had ratted him out to the river god Asopus, telling Asopus that Zeus had seduced Asopus’ daughter Aegina.

Jim Croce said it best, “Don’t step on Superman’s cape…” A pissed off Zeus was a force to reckon with. As a punishment from the gods for his trickery, Sisyphus was made to roll a boulder up a steep hill, but before reaching the top, the boulder would always roll back down, forcing him to begin again, thus binding him to an eternity of frustration. 


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