Monday, August 1, 2011

What is Codependency

What is codependency?

Codependency is a pattern of detrimental, behavioral interactions within a dysfunctional relationship. "A codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior" (Beattie, M., Codependent No More).

Sometimes, the codependent is in a familial or other relationship that involves alcohol, substance abuse, physical abuse, pornography, gambling, or other destructive behaviors. The codependent has learned to interact or behave in such ways that they believe will help but never does.

They often feel tremendous guilt, responsibility or need to "fix" by controlling the actions of others, especially the one who owns the original problem. The codependent develops intense feelings and will try anything to make the family or relationship survive.

It's very common to "cover up" the behavior of their loved one; this is called enabling. By enabling, they are allowing the behavior to continue and cause avoidance of natural consequences. Codependents don't want to "rock the boat." They therefore are willing to do most anything just to keep peace. This too is where other family members learn to function in this manner creating the all too common "dysfunctional family."

The codependent will often accept blame for the situation. For instance, in a dysfunctional relationship the codependent will either accept or proclaim that "It's entirely my fault; it's because of something I did wrong."

This fits the source, the dysfunctional person (the addict, abusive person etc) just fine since that person looks for others to blame for their actions. The dysfunctional person is denying, floundering, and usually very capable of using whatever means of escape possible. They are not beyond threats, coercion, or manipulation to avoid taking responsibility.

Bottom line definition:  Codependency is a compulsion to control and rescue people by fixing their problems.  it occurs when a person's needs for love and security are not met.

Codependency has three core behaviors and three emotional results.

1. Lack of Objectivity:  the inability to see things as they really are. Past hurts keep warping our view of present events.
2. A Warped Sense of Responsibility:  not having good boundaries to tell us our responsibilities vs others responsibilities.
3.  Being Controlled and Controlling Others: Since we don't have good boundaries we alternate between invading others space and allowing them to invade our space and manipulate us.

1. Hurt/Anger
3. Guilt
4. Loneliness

Next post we will look at what a "Functional" Family looks like..

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