Co dependency, sometimes known as “relationship addiction,” is an emotional and behavioral disease that affects a person’s capacity to maintain a healthy, mutually gratifying relationship. People who suffer from codependency are frequently involved in one-sided, emotionally harmful, and toxic relationships.
Codependency was first used by the spouses of people with substance use disorders, but it has now expanded to encompass a wide range of relationship patterns. There is no recent research on the statistics of codependent relationships and codependency, but older studies indicate that codependency is frequent.
Co dependency Definition
A mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual reliance on a partner, friend, or family member is referred to as codependency.
“The phrase was initially coined in the context of Alcoholics Anonymous in the 1950s to support spouses of individuals who misused substances and were intertwined in the toxic lives of those they cared for,” explains Dr. Renee Exelbert, a professional psychologist and author located in New York.
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This is still true, but codependency now encompasses a far broader spectrum. Codependency is neither a clinical diagnostic nor a formally classified personality disorder in and of itself. Co dependency, in general, involves features of early childhood attachment style patterns, and it can also overlap with other personality disorders, such as dependent personality disorder.
Who Does Co Dependency Affect?
Co-dependency frequently affects a person’s spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or coworker who is addicted to alcohol or drugs. Originally, co-dependent was a word used to characterize partners in chemical dependency, as well as people who live with or are in a relationship with an addict. People in relationships with chronically or mentally ill individuals have shown similar patterns. Today, the phrase has come to refer to any co-dependent person from any dysfunctional family.
What Factors Contribute to Co dependency?
Co-dependent tendencies are typically based on early connections with parents and other caregivers. Experiences in your family of origin can have a significant impact on your emotional and mental health throughout your life.
“Most contributing causes to this disorder begin with parents who have weak boundaries for one reason or another,” Botnick notes. And when your wants are consistently unfulfilled, you lose your ability to assert yourself or even know what to ask for, she claims.
Common Causes of Co dependency
Botnick identifies many critical situations that may facilitate or contribute to codependency:
- Physical, emotional, or sexual exploitation
- Parents or caregivers that prioritize their wants over the needs of their children
- A caregiver suffering from a personality illness, such as borderline, narcissistic, or dependent personality disorder, may push you to conceal your self-identity to appease them.
- Overprotective or controlling caretakers prevent a child from understanding safe limits and establishing healthy boundaries
- One or both parents abandon the family, causing you to fear future abandonment
- Caregivers alternate between being affectionate and present and being aloof and inaccessible, which contributes to an uneasy attachment
- Criticism and bullying from parents, siblings, or peers that causes you to feel insecure in relationships
In any of the following scenarios, you may grow up feeling that your personal needs don’t matter, or that they can wait. As a result, you learn to overlook your thoughts, feelings, and desires to keep others happy and keep them from leaving.
How Do Co-dependent Individuals Behave?
Co-dependents have low self-esteem and seek relief from sources other than themselves. They struggle to “be themselves.” Some people use alcohol, drugs, or nicotine to feel better and become addicted. Others may acquire compulsive habits such as workaholism, gambling, or promiscuous sexual behavior.
They have the best of intentions. They strive to help someone who is struggling, but the caregiving becomes compulsive and defeating. Co-dependents frequently play the martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to someone in need. A wife may cover for her alcoholic husband; a mother may make excuses for a truant child; a father may “pull some strings” to protect his child from the repercussions of delinquent behavior.
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The difficulty is that these recurrent rescue attempts allow the needy individual to continue on a disastrous path and become even more reliant on the “benefactor’s” improper caretaking. As the co-dependency dependent grows, he or she gains a sense of reward and satisfaction from “being needed.”
When caregiving becomes compulsive, the co-dependent feels powerless in the relationship and unable to break free from the cycle of conduct that produces it. Co-dependents see themselves as victims and are drawn to the same flaw in romantic and interpersonal relationships.
Co dependency Symptoms
Understanding codependency is a problem begins with becoming familiar with its symptoms. A person suffering from codependency may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Self-esteem issues
- Dysfunctional family dynamics
- Inability to communicate feelings or trouble doing so
- Having difficulty saying no or setting limits
- Reacting emotionally, even to little situations
Furthermore, a codependent frequently feels obligated to take care of others and needs to be loved by everyone. Intimacy difficulties, fear of desertion, and mistaking love for pity are all typical characteristics. In contrast to dependent personality disorder, where symptoms apply to people in the social network as a whole, these symptoms apply to a specific person or family. Taking a codependency quiz will help you better understand the signs and features that persons with the disorder exhibit.
Co dependency Disorder
Codependency is currently defined as “a unique relational addiction marked by preoccupation and intense dependence—emotional, social, and occasionally physical—on another person.”
Co dependency is still used to refer to families with substance abuse disorders, but it is also used to refer to other situations. The fundamental effect of codependency is that “codependents, while caring for others, forget to care for themselves, resulting in a disruption of identity development” (Knudson & Terrell, 2012).
Cermak (1986) proposed that codependency be defined in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), drawing diagnostic criteria from alcoholism, dependent personality disorder (DPD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), histrionic personality disorder, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
This argument was unsuccessful, and codependency was not included as a personality disorder in the DSM-III-R (the next revision). The newest edition of the manual, the DSM-5, still only refers to DPD, not codependency.
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Codependency overlaps not just with DPD but also with BPD, which is why some study has discounted the premise that codependency is its personality disorder. However, one study discovered that, while codependent people do exhibit some overlap with DPD and BPD symptoms, there are also people who demonstrate codependency without exhibiting DPD or BPD symptoms (Knapek et al., 2017).
Codependency differs from DPD in that codependent persons are dependent on a specific person or people, whereas people with DPD are reliant on others in general. Codependency is distinct from BPD in that, while BPD includes instability in interpersonal interactions, it does not involve reliance on others.
To summarize, codependency is a psychiatric concept that refers to people who have a strong dependence on certain loved ones in their lives and feel responsible for their feelings and behaviors. The DSM, even the most recent version, does not classify codependency as a unique personality condition.
Nonetheless, research indicates that, while codependency overlaps with other personality disorders, it appears to be a different psychological construct. The easiest approach to learning about codependency is to go over some of the signs of codependency.
Unless co-occurring problems are being treated, drugs are not usually part of codependency treatment. When looking for codependency treatment, consider starting with:
- Consultation with a licensed mental health professional
- Enrolling in therapy with a therapist
- Reading codependency self-help books
- Discussing codependent relationships with trusted friends and family members
Codependency therapy focuses on the current relationship, former relationships, and childhood trauma that may have contributed to codependent tendencies.
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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on identifying and modifying harmful thought patterns and behaviors. People suffering from codependency may benefit from CBT and other treatment approaches.
Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA), like the more well-known Alcoholics Anonymous, is a rehabilitation group in which people who are codependent support each other, work through therapy together, and obtain access to services.
CoDA, like Alcoholics Anonymous, has 12 steps. In addition, the program comprises 12 traditions, 12 commitments, and 12 service principles.
Co dependency Recovery
You can work on codependency rehabilitation at home with hobbies and exercises.
Conduct an honest assessment of the relationship:
Examine yourself, your spouse, and your relationship for red flags after learning about codependency.
Recognize the effects of a codependent relationship on your life:
Contrast a healthy, dependant relationship with a codependent connection. Take note of the good impacts of a healthy relationship and the negative effects of a codependent relationship. This can assist you in determining what you value and what you wish to change.
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Codependents and their enabling partners may have difficulties accepting responsibility for their feelings and failures. Breaking the pattern requires each person to take command of themselves and remind each others that they are in control of their own emotions and behaviors.
Books on codependency can help you get a knowledge of the issue and be more introspective.
Codependency can be a perplexing idea, and recognizing it—especially within yourself—can be difficult. While codependency is destructive in any relationship, the good news is that it is manageable and can be overcome. Whether you decide to stay or leave the relationship, knowing about codependency, being introspective, and, if necessary, consulting a professional can help you develop more healthy ways to approach relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is co dependence examples?
Codependent behaviors that are common include:
- Bullying on emotional grounds.
- Caring to the detriment of our health.
- People-pleasing (ignoring your own needs, then getting frustrated or angry)
- Obsession with a romantic relationship.
- Excusing inappropriate or aggressive behavior.
What is the root cause of codependency?
Codependency frequently begins in childhood. A child’s emotions are frequently disregarded or punished in the family. This emotional neglect can lead to low self-esteem and shame in the child. They may assume that their wants are unimportant.
How are codependents created?
Codependency difficulties often arise when a child is reared by either overprotective or under protective parents. Overprotective parents may prevent or shelter their children from developing the confidence required to be self-sufficient in the world.
Are codependents narcissists?
One study discovered a link between narcissism and codependency. Although most narcissists are codependent, the opposite is not true – most codependents are not narcissists. They lack the common characteristics of exploitation, entitlement, and lack of empathy.