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What Is Codependency?
Although the widely recognized condition of CODEPENDENCY is not currently included in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), most psychologists define it as a psychological condition that creates a psychological need in individuals to form relationships with other people, who, due to their own psychiatric condition, are likely to be excessively demanding, controlling and exploitative (a prime example being those suffering from narcissistic disorder. Indeed, it has been suggested that narcissists are the ‘natural’ partners of those who suffer from codependeny. To read my article on narcissism, click here).
WHAT TYPES OF CHILDHOOD DO THOSE WHO GO ON TO DEVELOP CODEPENDENCT TEND TO HAVE?
It is thought that the roots of codependency are laid down in traumatic childhood experience. As a toddler, the young child learns that protesting against abuse leads to the parent becoming yet more abusive and therefore gives up his/her protestations and learns not to assert him/herself.
Typically, too, the child learns as s/he gets older that answering back or arguing are especially severely punished. Thus, his/her belief that standing up for him/herself merely compounds his/her problems is yet further reinforced.
Often, this learning will happen so early in childhood that the future codependent will have little, or no, memory of it as an adult.
As alluded to at the start of this article, as adults codependents will tend to focus excessively upon the needs of others, which, in turn, can lead to a loss of a sense of self.
Because the future codependent learned to be submissive in response to fear inducing stimuli in early life, even the slightest threat in adulthood tends to meet with a similar submissive reaction – such a reaction has become conditioned.
Very frequently, too, the codependent has experienced feelings of abandoment in early life ; for this reason, as an adult, s/he often behaves in an ingratiating and fawning manner towards others in a desperate attempt to avoid experiencing further abandoment.
FURTHER CHARACTERISTICS FREQUENTLY DISPLAYED BY CODEPENDENTS :
– tend to much prefer listening, rather than talking, when interacting with others due to fear about expressing their own thoughts, views and feelings.
– tend to ask others a lot of questions when conversing in an attempt to keep the focus away from themselves
– are far more likely to agree with the views and opinions of others than to disagree with them due to severe problems with assertiveness
– tend to allow others to make choices rather than to express their own preferences
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).