What is Co-dependency?
We think of Addiction as a family illness as it affects the whole family. The term co-dependent evolved out of treatment centers in the USA, in the 1950’s. The first Rehabs initially treated alcoholics. Then co-alcoholic meaning ‘alcoholic-with’ described close family members who either enabled or were victims. In the 1960’s, drug dependency started to be treated so the term was updated to co-dependency ‘dependent-with’. In 1986 the first recovery meeting of co-dependency Anonymous CoDA took place. Melody Beattie wrote the first Big Book, Co-dependency no more.
Family feedback is one of the most powerful tools in treatment and we strongly recommend that you involve your loved ones in the therapeutic process.
Our understanding of Co-dependency has broadened out to include those people who are attracted to addicts due to care-taking issues, people who are addicted to relationships, and who have a fear of people.
What is Co-dependency?
“Co-dependency is a fear of relationships, or losing relationships, it can also be a lack of healthy boundaries in relationships. Addicts often cross many lines and seek out enablers. I know in my case my co-dependency was founded in my shame, I was not enough which left me desperate and riddled with dysfunctional compensations. Ironically people who can’t trust, often can’t be trusted. People who are insecure in their relationships are more likely to sabotage them. In recovery I have made mistakes and had to worked on my relationships”
A brief understanding: Co-dependency is a loss of identity, self-esteem, unhealthy boundaries, due to one’s need for validation from others, as well as expecting others to take responsibility for us.
Many of us come from dysfunctional families and had unhealthy boundaries and relationships modeled to us in our early years. Below are the four life positions by Dr Harris, based on Eric Berne’s Transactional Analysis model of healthy and unhealthy Ego states: Transference between humans based on early relationships in their lives.
The Drama Triangle
The drama triangle by Stephen Karpman is another useful table to work with. It helps understand any dysfunctional social interaction humans engage in, usually unconsciously. There are three roles that we can switch into depending on the situation and who.
Additional roles we play in our relationships:
- Approval seeker
- People pleaser
- Playing victim
- Addicted to someone