Calimero Syndrome, It Really Is So Unfair!

Last updated by Lauren Hart

“As usual, they forgot about me!”, “Anyway, I always get the rubbish things”, “She got a promotion, it’s because she’s friends with the manager”, “My back hurts again, I feel like it’s going to last a long time!”... I think we’ve all known a Calimero in our circle. Maybe we’re one too? I’m not going to hide the fact that there are times when I complain all day long, I’m just saying! But why this behavior? What’s behind it?

Calimero Syndrome, It Really Is So Unfair!

What is Calimero syndrome?

“It really is so unfair”! This phrase, which has become a cult favorite, is Calimero’s favorite line. This little black chick, wearing an eggshell on his head, is the hero of a 1970s cartoon. He complains all the time, which is why he gave his name to this syndrome: that of the eternal complainers who see the negative all the time!

🤷‍♀️ We tend to want to run away from this type of person, as it can be exhausting to hear complaints all day. However, these complaints shouldn’t be overlooked, they have a real justification.

>>> Read; Why does complaining make me feel so good?

Everybody complains

When we moan, we’re relieving ourselves of a burden. Getting rid of what upsets us prevents us from developing psychosomatic diseases. Complaining therefore has positive effects! Moreover, the psychologist and author of the book “Calimero Syndrome” (Albin Michel publishers), Saverio Tomasella, explains that in the past, people didn’t complain because it was badly perceived. You had to keep things to yourself, even if it meant making yourself sick (from annoyance, anxiety, sadness, etc.). Complaining feels good!

🎭 Besides, we all do it more or less, including me... But Calimeros use it and abuse it, complaining is no longer just a way of letting things out, it’s a way of being!

The origins of Calimero syndrome

When someone complains continuously, it hides a wound. Like a childhood wound that hasn’t been healed. Moreover, if we have heard those around us complaining a lot, it’s also a habit that can be copied. We don’t want to repeat our parent's mistakes, but sometimes we don’t realize that we’re doing exactly the same thing. We repeat what we heard when we were younger.

Sometimes, complaints hide a deeper unease that the person is unable to put into words or problems that they’re trying to hide. Complaining about anything and everything takes your mind off the real problems. It’s a way of drawing attention to yourself in order to get help.

Two types of Calimeros

The psychologist highlights the two types of Calimeros:

  • 1st group: the complaint focuses on everything that undermines them
  • 2nd group: the complaint revolves around injustices, experienced by that person or not.

The second group has a white knight side. They’re committed to injustices and can therefore join the first group to sympathize with them.

>>> Read; I've decided to stop complaining at work

Expressing your emotions… by complaining

Calimeros don’t realize that when they moan, they’re expressing an emotion. However, emotion isn’t representative of reality. Sometimes there are unfounded injustices, but Calimeros will feel a negative emotion about an event.

Practical example

💳 For example, the cash machine swallows our bank card. If we have Calimero syndrome, we’ll react by feeling sorry for ourselves: "It’s unfair, it always happens to me, what am I going to do now?” Instead of saying this about this event, we can say the facts and the emotions linked to it without complaining: “My credit card was swallowed at the ATM, I’m anxious because I don’t know what to do without a means of payment.”

The facts are exposed, but more importantly, so are the emotions. Talking like this allows us to better manage our emotions and not test those around us, who generally don’t know how to react to a complaint. Whereas in the second case, we can be offered solutions to help us.

What’s the solution to stop complaining?

There are three steps to put an end to Calimero syndrome. Whether you have a Calimero in your life or you are one yourself, this can really help:  

  • 😩 Accept yourself as you are: it’s not easy to admit that you complain a lot. But being confronted with your own behavior is an eye-opener.
  • 🧐 Understand the origin of your complaints: you need to determine how the complaints started. Identifying the origin (emotional shock, health problem, heavy fatigue, since always, etc.) allows you to solve the real problem, including if it’s a family habit.
  • 😌 Express your emotion: complaining is an action, you need to replace it with something else to express your feelings. You can keep a diary, make an anger box, keep a blog, etc. Or even do something that relaxes you, like meditative activities.

Nevertheless, we mustn’t forget the essentials. Talking to a professional and getting help from a therapist allows you to understand the past and your behavior. You, therefore, need to be able to do some real work on yourself to get rid of these kinds of complaints. If you have a Calimero in your circle, the same advice can be applied. You need to talk to them about it with great sensitivity and empathy. This will really help them to become aware of this way of being.

Editor’s note: Enough is enough!

As you can see, complaining in small doses is good, but enough is enough! And above all, it’s not constructive! If you think you or someone close to you has Calimero syndrome, make an appointment with a psychologist. Together, you can go back to the roots of this behavior to better understand it and replace it with a new, more positive behavior.

🤗 Understanding yourself, accepting yourself, being happy... It’s here and now!


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Article presented by Lauren Hart

Writing is a beautiful means of expression that I cannot do without. It has allowed me to channel my hypersensitivity, plus I love writing about psychology and personal development. For me, self-understanding is the best way to move forward!