Codependency  

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Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and a sense of identity. Definitions of codependency vary, but it is generally defined as a subclinical, situational, and/or episodic behavioral condition similar to that of dependent personality disorder. The term is less individually diagnostic and more descriptive of a relationship dynamic.

Contents

History

The idea of codependency may have its roots in the theories of German psychoanalyst Karen Horney. In 1941, she proposed that some people adopt what she termed a "Moving Toward" personality style to overcome their basic anxiety. Essentially, these people move toward others by gaining their approval and affection, and subconsciously control them through their dependent style. They are unselfish, virtuous, martyr-like, faithful, and turn the other cheek despite personal humiliation. Approval from others is more important than respecting themselves.

The term codependency is most often identified with Alcoholics Anonymous and the realization that the Alcoholism was not solely about the addict but also about the family and friends who constitute a network for the alcoholic." The term “codependent” is used to describe how family members and friends might actually interfere with recovery by overhelping."

The application of this term was very much driven by the self-help community. Janet G. Woititz's Adult Children of Alcoholics had come out in 1983 and sold two million copies while being on the New York Times bestseller list for 48 weeks. Robin Norwood's Women Who Love Too Much, 1985, sold two and a half million copies and spawned Twelve Step groups across the country for women "addicted" to men. Melody Beattie popularized the concept of codependency in 1986 with the book Codependent No More which sold eight million copies. In 1986, Timmen Cermak, M.D. wrote Diagnosing and Treating Co-Dependence: A Guide for Professionals. In the book and an article published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (Volume 18, Issue 1, 1986), Cermak argued (unsuccessfully) for the inclusion of codependency as a separate personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R; American Psychiatric Association, 1987). Cermak's book paved the way for a Twelve-step take-off program, called Co-Dependents Anonymous. The first Co-Dependents Anonymous meeting was held October 22, 1986.

Definition

"Dependency" is well-established in psychological literature. Early psychoanalytic theory emphasized the oral character and structural basis of dependency, social learning theory considers a tendency to be acquired by learning and experience, and ethological attachment theory posits that attachment or affectional bonding is the basis for dependency.

Codependency

Timmen Cermak, M.D., proposed that co-dependency be listed as a personality disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III-R; American Psychiatric Association, 1987). Cermak reasoned that when specific personality traits become excessive and maladaptive and cause significant impairment in functioning or cause significant distress, it warrants a personality disorder diagnosis. Cermak's definition was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 1986.

Cermak proposed the following criteria for this disorder:

  1. Continued investment of self-esteem in the ability to control both oneself and others in the face of serious adverse consequences.
  2. Assumption of responsibility for meeting others' needs to the exclusion of acknowledging one's own.
  3. Anxiety and boundary distortions relative to intimacy and separation.
  4. Enmeshment in relationships with personality disordered, chemically dependent, other co‐dependent, or impulse‐disordered individuals.
  5. Three or more of the following:
    1. Excessive reliance on denial
    2. Constriction of emotions (with or without dramatic outbursts)
    3. Depression
    4. Hypervigilance
    5. Compulsions
    6. Anxiety
    7. Substance abuse
    8. Has been (or is) the victim of recurrent physical or sexual abuse
    9. Stress related medical illnesses
    10. Has remained in a primary relationship with an active substance abuser for at least two years without seeking outside help.

Codependency has not been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders; DSM-III-R or later versions.

Dependent personality disorder

Dependent personality disorder is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. The definition and criteria have changed in the different versions of the DSM. In the DSM-I, passive dependency personality was characterized by helplessness, denial, and indecisiveness, and was considered a subtype of passive-aggressive personality. By DSM-IV, there were nine criteria with an essential feature of a pervasive or lifetime pattern of dependent and submissive behavior. The DSM-IV definition emphasized the excessive need to be taken care of, leading to submissive and clinging behavior and fear of separation.

Behaviors and characteristics

Individual dynamics

A codependent is someone who cannot function on their own and whose thinking and behavior is instead organized around another person, process, or substance. Many codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships.

Romantic relationship dynamics

Some codependents often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person's poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs.

Codependent relationships are marked by intimacy problems, dependency, control (including caretaking), denial, dysfunctional communication and boundaries, and high reactivity. Often, there is imbalance, so one person is abusive or in control or supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.

Commonly observable characteristics of codependency are:

In a codependent relationship, the codependent person's sense of purpose is based on making extreme sacrifices to satisfy their partner's needs. Codependent relationships signify a degree of unhealthy "clinginess" and needy behavior, where one person does not have self-sufficiency or autonomy. One or both parties depend on their loved one for fulfillment.

The mood and emotions of the codependent are often determined by how they think other individuals perceive them (especially loved ones). This perception is self-inflicted and often leads to clingy, needy behavior which can hurt the health of the relationship.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Codependency" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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