In a previous thread, about 30 minutes ago I posted a reply to someone who believes that codependency theory is "well-accepted". I disagreed with that person, mentioning that my therapists over the years (1986-2001) have indicated to me that they believe it to be junk psychology.
After posting the reply, I did a search on msn on codependency. Among other items, I came upon the following:
1) Several were advertisements for counseling services promising such things as "[quick cures to today's
2) One site stated that codependency was a personality disorder. Another that it was a disease.
3) One site referred to something called "consciousness shifting"; another stated "joy to you and me!".
However, the hands down winner was the site containing the 35-question "are you codependent" test. In scanning over this test, I observed that not only was I myself and all my friends and relatives extremely codependent, but by my estimation, 99.9% of the population of the United States is also co-dependent.
(the other .1% are either in a coma or brain-dead)
We live in a world of quick fixes where flaky "professionals" vie for business on the internet and other popular media, and a never-ending stream of self-help books keeps publishers in business for years to come. But if you are interested in pursuing the therapeutic line of improving yourself, as an adjunct to or an alternative to medication, the time-tested methods of psychoanalysis and mainstream psychotherapy are still the recommended courses of action. I know, I've been there.
I never really heard the term codependant until i became involved with my fiance. He threw the term at me on night in the midst of an argument in regards to his drinking problem. The, after calling me codependant, he told me I was passive/agressive as well. I had no idea what either term meant so being the curious person that I am, I researched both of them. My understanding of codependancy, in very general terms, is that a codependant person takes responsibility for the bad feelings of the others in their life. For example, "My husband had a bad day at work because the lunch I made for him wasn't very good" or "If I do better at this, it will make my mate happier". Am I close? If that is the case, I would think that codependancy is akin to a lack of confidence and insecurity (samething I suppose) rather than a DISORDER. It does strike me as absurd that there is a named and related disorder for every emotion that I had always thought of as more or less typical of the human condition. Yes, I had periods in my life where I felt as though my actions negatively impacted someone else. Does that mean I am codependant and should run to a counsellor? Half the time I think that the reason there are so many people in the counselling profession is because it's a great excuse to hide from the real world. Don't get me wrong, I go to a counsellor in regards to my ADD and my son's as well. However, my fiance goes to a counsellor and routinely lies to her and therefore gets no benefit from the sessions and even when she knows he's lying, she doesn't call him on it!! So is she a sham? Is she more interested in fostering a false sense of well being in him so that he will keep coming back than actually helping him? I mean, she charges him $100.00 per hour (we have no insurance) and then writes him perscriptions that cost $125.00 each per month. For what? So that he can continue to make excuses for drinking and other self destructive behaviours? The root of the problem never gets addressed. Is it because his father has never hugged him? Who knows. I think I got a little off track and let some repressed emotion bubble up. Oh great, is that another disorder I have to worry about? Cripes, I never even got to the passive/aggresive stuff. Any way, this is a great thread. I hope that others will stay a little more focused than me!!
If you see me let me know because I have been looking for myself all day.
Actually it is the norm for a therapist not to directly accuse a client of lying. When you think about it this makes sense, for a therapist not to be accusatory. However, on the other hand I have had therapists who have seemed to indirectly questioned some things I have said by means of verification - even though I have never lied in therapy, maybe they thought they were testing invalid assumptions. There may be a fine line here.
But getting back to the codependency issue, I was not emphasizing in my original post so much, how everything is called a disorder, although that is a valid point; I am more concerned about codependency theory itself; I used to go to AA meetings back in the 80's at the recommendation of a therapist, because though not an alcoholic, I was exhibiting symptoms of compulsive behavior. This is when I first became aware of the theory. I began to notice that virtually all the people who I got to know, who firmly believed in the theory, had the attitude "I'm OK, you're screwed up". A lot of people are not going to like that statement, but I'm afraid that the fact is, even after codependency spread out into the general psychology and not just the AA forum, I continued to notice that its practitioners frequently approach situations with this attitude. As soon as they start to sense that they are getting too close to someone, if that someone is triggering any type of anger or insecurity within them at all, they take the attitude that the other person is 'dysfunctional', implying all sorts of things like that the other person had improper family dynamics or upbringing, is of a certain type of personality where he/she makes others feel guilty...the list goes on and on.
I do not deny that it is true that some people have a tendency to blame themselves for other peoples' problems or too take on too much responsibity for other peoples worries' and cares. But the solution is not to take the reverse attitude, "you have screwed me over, now I am not responsible at all".
Two wrongs do not make a right.
What I said was that codependency is a very useful concept and is not a fad.
I really do not know anything about an official Codependency Theory and am of course am not a professional.
You may think we disagree but I think we agree a lot more than we disagree. We just have to define what we are talking about.
My definition if codependency is that it is system or a relationship. A system where one person is afflicted by a pathological condition (like alcoholism) or a psychological condition (like depression). The other person (who is sometimes called the codependent) is not afflicted by this condition. Both people act in a manner to perpetuate the condition. Both people resist changes to the status quo, which means that they resist getting help for the unhealthy condition. They may both deny the condition exists. The two people are emotionally tied or dependent on one another and it is this tie that usually prevents healthy change from occurring in the system or relationship.
I believe these concepts are pretty well accepted. Even if they are wrong, they have been a starting point for a lot of theories and though, some of it good and useful some of it bad and worthless
In you examples, I certainly would disagree with quick cures and any promise.
I would disagree with the use of the term disease, as you seem to be.
Personality disorder may be applicable, but that depends on a definition once again.
The slogans about shifting and joy and just meaningless garbage as you imply.
I believe that the “test” that you found for co-dependency is not a good test and is meaningless.
But realize this…
Some people define Codependency as any relationship where people depend on one another.
If this is your definition that 100% of all people are Co-dependent.
This is not my definition as I stated above.
I agree with Chrys and YOU and am very skeptical of everyone and of all the hooks ready to real me in.
Rebecarooni post is VERY VERY funny to me. And is great.
First you give your definition which just goes to prove that everyone has a little different idea about what the term means.
Next you give a classical example of what I would call a codependent relationship but you do not seem to recognize it ??
The counselor helps just enough to ensure that the unhealthy behavior will continue but not enough to really help your fiancée get better. You fiancée goes and lies and makes no effort to get any better then the momentary lift that will ensure that he has to see the counselor again. They lie to each other and talk about psychological mumbo-jumbo like not getting a hug from father or not getting a bike on you 10th birthday, but the drinking problem on other pathological behavior is never addressed.
Rebecarooni that is a codependent relationship!!!!!!!!!!
The counselor is the codependent in this case she is tied monetarily instead of emotionally, but money can stir strong emotions in some people
It is a very intimate relationship and I can see why your fiancée is addicted to what she provides and would not want to disturb that system
Nlathers the beginning of your post confused me because it sounds like you are implying that you are Axolotl? Is this the case? (Sorry if I should know this?)
This attitude that you describe "I'm OK, you're screwed up"
Has nothing to do with Codependency in my opinion.
The concept of codependency is that BOTH people act to prolong an unhealthy state.
Both people are screwed up to use the vernacular.
NOW FINALLY BACK TO WHAT STARTED IT ALL TOXIC PARENTS
Axolotl recommends psychoanalysis and mainstream psychotherapy. I tend to agree with this!!
In these therapies the past is examined and a clearer picture of WHY you feel the way you do and exactly HOW the past has effected you is developed.
Self-help says the past does not matter. Here is what you can do to fix yourself now.
The concept of toxic parents actually fits better with psychoanalysis and mainstream psychotherapy than with Self-help in my opinion.
You still need to take responsibility for yourself and your health.
The concept of “toxic parents” helps examine the past, shed light on your feelings.
You see that some of the things you learned as a kid were harmful destructive and wrong.
Toxic parents tend to give there children toxic messages that they keep with them every day and that play over and over in there heads for the rest of there lives.
These kids usually become toxic parents themselves.
It is a great concept. And can be very useful.
It has given me the strength to at least question that my father might have been wrong when he told me that I was a failure and treated me like incompetent failure all my life.
The term may be faddish or it may sound like psychobabble, but the concept behind it is not.
It is based on the fact that kids learn from their parents (persons who raise them) Hopeful we can agree on that.
It does sound like we agree on a lot. I hope I didn't scare anyone off with my 'outburst'. Maybe you have a somewhat different outlook or involvement level with codependency than others I have talked to.
On the topic of toxic parents which as you said is the original topic, based on your description above it sounds pretty much like pre-existing knowledge with a new name; I think those ideas about destructive parents have been around for a very long time. In fact 'destructive' was the term that was in style for seemingly decades. My own mother was quite destructive, when I was growing up I got almost no emotional support from her. I don't know if I will ever be able to trust a woman enough to have a long-term relationship.
Also, my sister is a nut and my brother is a jerk, and since my mother died in '96 there hasn't been much communication between the three of us.
(notice here the contrast between you and I - you go into great length explaining your own family's dynamics, while I cut to the chase!!). All kidding asside, I was really expecting to get lambasted on this topic so maybe that's a good sign.
By the way I'm sure if I searched on other mental health keywords I would come up with corny web sites on those too.
Axolotl is the same as nlathers, I keep forgetting to bring my new password to work so use nlathers from there.
OK, I have been thinking about this since yesterday because I think it is an interesting subject and I wanted to respond intelligently. ff... you were much more articulate in your description of codependency than I was. You summed it up nicely for me. As to whether or not my fiance has a codependant relationship with his counsellor or not, hard to say. He has to go to her every six weeks to get his perscriptions (effexor and anitanxiety meds) so that is basically what he gets out of the meetings. She asks him about his drinking because the meds that she gives him shouldn't be mixed with alcohol. So he lies about how much he is drinking. And when he is there, obviously hung over and still smelling like booze, how can she in good conscience give him the drugs? Any how, whether her actions are codependent in regards to finacial gain or not, I don't know. I don't know her to know her motivation. As for Axo's comments on the codependency theory, I researched it on the web a bit yesterday and saw it bashed about as "feminist crap", an excuse for women to be victomized etc. So, now I am more confused then ever. In the context that my fiance used it with me, it was a purely alcoholic/codependent connotation. However, as I said in my first response, I feel as if it is a person taking responsibility for another's bad feelings or actions and I DO NOT hold myself responsible for his drinking. I am not the cause nor I am I the cure. I guess I should stick to light and fluffy posts. And ff, I am sure it wasn't necessarily your intention but, you came across as harsh and judgemental and as I have been reminded by others when I have done the same, this isn't the forum for that. Thanks, Reb
If you see me let me know because I have been looking for myself all day.
Thanks Chrys. I know myself well enough to know that there have been times where I have acted passive aggressively, I am sure. As far as codependency, yes, there is addicton in our relationship but I don't facilitate it, even subconsciously, so I don't feel that is much of an issue. For the most part, I think I am happy and healthy. No more messed up than any one else in the world and certainly better off than bunches of folks. I have been enjoying the board tremendously because there are so many caring and intelligent folks and don't want to alienate any one.
If you see me let me know because I have been looking for myself all day.
ok all, I have to throw my 2 cents in & while I'm at sorry I havn't been around last couple of days to help out with this thread. It is quite interesting.
First, on the Co-dependency issue.
My story on co-dependancy is this. I am codependant in that I gravitate towards people and relationships where people need help. This is my fix or my feel good in other words. I rely on fixing things in order to feed my self-esteem. In short I'm the ultimate Caretaker & I want to fix them for my own self worth.
Like Chrys said, the other party then take's advantage of this person's caring nature & continues to create harmfull circumstances, etc. that the codependant or caretaker needs or must take action on, fix or clean up.
The codependant/caretaker 90% of the time will not set their foot down & demand the wrong behaviour changed. They just continue to pick up the pieces.
In my case, if the demands were not met I left the relationship & continued on to the next relationship where I could play caretaker once again & fix things in order to feel needed. Thus the Co-dependancy issue in relation to my circumstances. A behaviour that I had to change in order to correct my low self esteem & be happy with myself without the aid of someone bringing me down so I could fix it.
On the topic of Toxic Parents.
Yes, Axotol, you are right. Co-dependency usually arises from a toxic family/dysfunctional family. The behaviours & ugliness learn in a toxic family by a child usually makes a child grown to an adult that is lacking in self-esteem & thus looking to feed it. Why a child choses co-dependency as a behaviour because of a toxic family, I'm still learning that. But once I have that learned I'll let you know. Maybe it's cause the bad behaviour is learned & the child is still trying to find their lost childhood & make it happy........or maybe they learned that if they fixed the problem in the toxic family everyone was happy, who knows. I think maybe it all adds up as to what type of behavior the toxic family/dsyfunctional family behaviors are exhibited that the co-dependant is created.
Just my 2 cents or considering how long this is.............. 10 cents. Cat
All these labels, co-dependancy, toxic parents, etc. are quite funny as it occurs to me they are what keep the money rolling in for docs and drug companies. Inventions and theories for profit. True, there are people who have these "problems" but meds and $100 an hour spent isn't always the answer.
It boils down to unconditional love and being unselfish , which, unfortunately, are two concepts that escape most of our society...for example, the alcoholic who is only thinking about what he wants to do (drink) and does not want to give it up for those in his life it effects. The parents who expect too much out of their children and probably don't posess the capacity to love them no matter what and this ends up hurting an otherwise normal, happy child; however, as an adult this child needs to realize he makes his own judgements and mistakes, thus is responsible for the outcome, not his parents!
Letting a persons' bad behaviors not be their fault...this might be where therapy gets it's popularity from...just like blaming the other person, or "co-dependant" for behaviors of a man who won't give up happy hour....yes, folks, it's not rebecca's fault her mate drinks and she loves him enough to try to stick it out with him; unconditional love, remember? Unfortunately, given the real dangers incurring from alcoholic problems, most people have to give up on such people out of pure self-preservation; but at least they care enough to try but drug and alcohol abuse is a danger even the most loving person should not have to live with!
I guess by using co-dependancy theory and toxic parents theory, the psychiatrist can make their patients "feel better" by shifting blame to someone else instead of holding the individual responsible for their own bad habits; thus the patient is happy and keeps coming back; add meds that cause physical dependancy to the mix and you've got a patient for life.
As I am sure such conditions as co-dependancy and toxic parenting do really exist though, the issue is this.. would I let a total stranger (educated or not) pretend to be able to look into my entire family's souls and discover every motive and emotion for their good or bad behaviors in regard to why I might have destructive or selfish behaviors? The blame game is only fun if you get to win and everyone else loses and a psychiatrist knows that quite well so I would assume if he wants his next Mercedes he'd better blame everyone you know down to your 3rd cousin Roy.
I was not trying to be harsh at all. And I would never judge you about your post.
I said I though it was a GREAT post and I meant that. http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/t_up.gif
Maybe I should not have said funny.
I always think it is good to see the humor in the posts.
Just because I am trying to brake up the depression.
Certainly the things you talk about like ADD, drinking problems and money worries are not funny. That is not what I meant at all.
I think you had a good definition of the term, I was just pointing out that every one has a little different idea of what it means.
For all I know, your definition could be much more accurate than mine.
You are right that your fiancée may not be in a codependent relationship with the counselor.
But the concept, does help a little to explain why she might be locked into such atrocious behavior like giving him medication when he clearly is hungover and smells of booze.
I was really just trying to help.
You say you are more confused then ever.
This is where I think you need to take Axolotl’s advice and not worry so much about the term.
Because your actions seem to be very good and very reasonable.
First your acknowledge that he has a problem, you say that you are not responsible for the way he feels, and that you did not cause the problem and can not force him to a cure.
THESE are all very HEALTHY ways of seeing the situation.
So I think you are on the right track and should not worry one bit that he said that you were “codependent” in an argument.
If you ask me he is all wet, and this is exactly the use of the term that Axolotl seems to dislike and I agree.
Did any of you see the movie “Good Will Hunting”
I kind of think of it like that.
Matt Damon was taking responsibility for his life and not blaming anyone
But He was just not relating well with the world and not living up to his potential.
Then there was that break down with Robin Williams where all he says is “Its not your fault”
I mean logically the character knows that, but to really break down and totally accept it emotionally can be powerfully helpful.
I am not saying blame every one else,
But there are some feeling and notions that we carry with us
That are not correct.
And the events that lead to these feelings and notions usually are beyond our control and not our fault.
MEGHERC you hit the nail right on the head, I did not want to be so bold and brash because frankly, many people do not like to hear that they are responsible for their own actions, feelings and emotions (with the exception that certain drugs/chemical imbalances can 'cause' or contribute to certain behaviors, depression, etc).
Feelings arise from within the person experiencing the feeling. No-one can 'make' you feel a certain way. And it is true, the vast majority of therapists subtly teach you how to blame others for your problems (if they didn't do this no-one would keep going to therapy, because the alternative of taking responsibility is too difficult for many who end up in therapy). And I'm afraid even more-so with self-help books. I believe this is one reason why people feel so comfy while reading a self-help book - it gives you that 'feel-good'.
There is one thing I've noticed that seems funny though, I don't know if it's just me or if it makes me sort of a hypocrit (sp.) but I only tend to make statements like the above when I've been relatively stabilized for a long time, i.e. on meds - and I haven't needed talk therapy recently. What I mean is that if I sink into a depression again and someone makes statements to me like those above, I may not want to hear it - though I would probably not disagree. Thus I think I can still sympathize to some extent with other people on the board who may disagree with us - they are looking at things through a different pair of eyes.
PS: cat I think you made a mistake a couple posts above - it sounds like you were referring to one of ff's posts, not one of mine.
[This message has been edited by nlathers (edited 10-09-2002).]
I don't mean to overstay my welcome but I just wanted to tack something on, I've only briefly brought this up in one other post - it's something I have a lot of interest in and it relates to this topic but I suspect most of you out there will not give a rat's beak (LOL -cat!).
The 'mind-body problem'; an explanation for consciousness; how does it come to be that a child raised 'improperly' may acquire certain traits later in life? The stats are out there, but I am not talking about the 'nature vs. nurture' debate; I am wondering 'HOW DOES the nurture part cause its effect??'. There has to be either a physical link between the inputs received by the child as it was raised, and the mind, and then the end behavior; or a spiritual link. Discounting the latter (I do not believe in a soul), there are no ghosts in the brain - how can it be that one leads to the other; what is the 'translation media'? What I am saying is: after all, the brain is a physical entity, and the mind resides in the brain. The mind causes our behavior. The rearing of the child affects the mind. But the rearing of the child has its impact on the child's mind VIA the brain, therefore there must be some PHYSICAL effect due to the rearing, perhaps new or distorted synapses, pathways, firing patterns, what have you. And then how are these 'stored' over the years, to then result in something called (by some) codependent behavior?? A sort of 'reverse translation' must take place, from brain to mind to physical action.
So it is not as simple as 'my parents raised me wrong so now I'm codependent, and let's debate about codependency', and all the while leave out this idea of the mind-body relationship. It is always good to keep this in mind.
I am one who tends to believe that our thoughts/feelings/experiences influence our biology, particularly during the formative early years when they cannot be view through an analytical prism.
Part of what I believe therapy aims to do is to ``decondition'' what have become instinctual thought/emotional patterns from an early age - to ``rewire'' circuitry that leaves us running in circles, or unable to connect with the outside world in a healthy way.
I agree, axo, that laying blame on others is not a productive path to happiness. At the same time, looking critically at thought and behavior patterns that we may instinctively engage in seems key to breaking the cycle of depression and anxiety. And understanding our relationships with others and how they affect us in the present I think is a valuable part of this analysis.
As long as that understanding is used constructively - to help us make educated choices to better our lives rather than sitting around blaming others - I think examining our past has value.
Did want to point out however that the last 2 to 3 posts have indicated (unless I'm interpetting it wrong) that we are all on the same page & agree.
We cannot blame others for our actions, but to overcome our learned or however the bejebies we acquired our bad behaviours we have to modify them & by doing so we must dig deep into our early learning years. Shoot, it may not be the parents fault, it may be the babysitter's. But in the end, whether a disorder, wrong behavior, etc. is labeled or not, it is up to us to change it & no one elses. We cannot blame others, we are adults & it is time for us to take responsiblity for ourselves.
Did I sum up what everyone else was saying correctly???
Actually my last post above was meant as more of an adjunct to the whole discussion...
But do you not wonder how images and events in the external world, and then our perception of these things, somehow end up as resulting in certain traits or behaviors? Somewhere within the chain of events (or 'layers') in going from reality to perception to causation to action, there has to be at some point a transferral from the physical realm to the purely analytical or intuitive, or emotive, or what have you; and then so on.
A simpler way to see what I am talking about is to ask yourself, 'what is "blueness"" '? Of course in the physical realm, physicists have shown that the color blue is due to the emission of light of a certain wavelength from the electromagnetic spectrum...(etc).
But when a person perceives a blue object, blue light is impinging upon the retina, and the subsequent impulse is transmitted to the brain; how is it that as a result that person then obtains or recalls in his mind the IDEA of 'blueness'? And how is it then that later one can visualize in one's "mind's eye" a blue object? This would require an explanation for consciousness, and if this puzzle was solved our discussions above would be essentially moot.