What Is Co-Dependency ...by Stan Hyman, PhD, LCSW
The term codependency was originally coined by researchers studying the dynamics of alcohol addiction in families. It became clear to those who worked with alcoholics (see Alcoholism newsletter) and their families that there was a very unhealthy two-way dependency created when a family member was addicted to alcohol.
Since then the term codependency has been expanded and used to describe almost any type of relationship where the dependent partner may be physically and/or psychologically dependent or addicted to a substance or may have chronic emotional, physical or financial problems.
Characteristics Of A Codependency Relationship
The codependent partner tries to control the relationship. In an effort to keep the relationship from changing the codependent partner takes charge of the dependent partner by making excuses, hiding destructive behaviors, pitying him/her and generally enabling the dysfunctional pattern to continue.
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A codependent person is someone who often shows excessive or even inappropriate caring for the dependent person. Both partners “need” each other in an unhealthy, symbiotic way.
Codependent people will often come from families where their personal needs were secondary to the needs of the family. The family may have been dealing with an addiction or some other difficult chronic problem. Codependents are somehow made to feel responsible for other family members who depend on them in an unhealthy way. They learn to repress their own feelings and serve mainly to comfort and care for someone else.
As adults, codependent people are at greater risk to form relationships with others who are needy or emotionally unavailable. The familiar feeling of denying one’s own emotions for the sake of someone else’s is a strong pull towards repeating the early family dynamic.
Once they enter into a relationship codependents will feel that their controlling behavior is in the best interest of the family. They are convinced that the survival of the family depends on their taking control. Unfortunately they are often doomed to feel unfulfilled and dissatisfied with the relationship and themselves.
The codependent is in essence living his/her life through another. The sense of personal identity, of actually discovering who you really are, is sacrificed unwittingly for a compulsive and repetitive learned behavior. The feeling of being consumed by another’s needs often leads to depression.
Please consider sharing this article with friends or family that might be interested in answering the question, What Is Codependency? To find out if you might be codependent please see my article, Are You Codependent?
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