A Codependency is a relationship in which an otherwise mentally healthy person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected by an addiction or mental illness. In Codependent No More, author Melody Beattie asks: “Is someone else’s problem your problem? If, like so many others, you’ve lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else’s, you may be codependent.” Codependency is the tendency for the victim in an abusive relationship to develop dysfunctional patterns or habits in the process of trying to cope with a family member or partner who is abusive or neglectful or has an addiction. These patterns include denial of the problem, enabling or support of the abusive behavior, poor sense of self-worth, abandonment of personal goals or values and development of controlling or manipulative behaviors. Codependents are generally unsatisfied with the status quo, yet often fear the consequences of trying to make a change, of trying to detach or put a stop to the abuse. Codependence was first described as a problem observed in children of alcoholics, who developed distinctive patterns of denial, shame, avoidance, lack of boundaries, low self-worth and excessive sensitivity to the needs of others in an attempt to compensate for their parents’ disorders. These characteristics often carry over into adulthood and s-called “adult children” often find themselves in patterns of unstable social relationships. The terms “codependent” and “dysfunctional ” originally referred to families specifically affected by alcoholism. However, these terms have been popularly generalized to include any household situation involving a neglectful or abusive family member. Therefore, codependency often describes the characteristics of family members, spouses and partners of people who suffer from personality disorders and other mental illnesses.
“Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” – Virginia Satir