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The History of the Term, “Codependency”


hands rope cr

To quote William Shakespeare, “What’s in a name?”  Well, Mr. Shakespeare, in the mental health field, quite a bit!  Correctly labeling mental health disorders is powerfully important to the person in their pursuit of seeking help to overcome their problems.

2 thoughts on “The History of the Term, “Codependency”

  • March 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks for the history of the term codependent. I find the concise definition of codependency in the article however to be too limiting. My regular CODA group has many parents of alcoholics and addicts in it, including me. We all identify with the patterns of codependency as outlined by Melody Beattie in “Codependent No More” and the CODA literature. The concise definition at the end of the article seems to fall short for me. For example, my codependency is characterized by an obsessive need to control rather than relinquishing control. Also rather than abdicating my power over my addicted child I act out as if I were the Higher Power over them.

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  • November 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    My focus is on the caregiver (CG) as the primary, and often only, resource to impacted individuals (II) . In order for the CG to have control of their own life with conscience, it seems essential for them to have a clear understanding of the II and their focus. This applies to CG of terminal parents/spouses/loved ones as well as those with addictions of all types. What the CG often does not know and has little chance of easily discovering is that these behaviors of the II are documented, identifiable and predictable. Once the CG understands and operationalizes this into a strategy and accompanying tactics to respond to the II, they have begun to both retake control of their lives and assist the II. A well honed definition of codependency is one of the building blocks of such a process. It is necessary due to the confusing and multiple applications attributed to the term. I think that codependency should be a neutral concept as not all codependency is negative unless it is defined as such, i.e. “problematic”. Is there a codependent relationship involving the transfer of power that is positive. One that comes to mind is that of parenting where control is transferred to the child as it matures and is replaced by influence with the adult child and finally submission to their control as the parent reaches old age and limited competence. In this sense, is codependency a dynamic process used as a basis for mutually beneficial relationships and a manifestation of parental, spousal, familial, love? Is this an avenue worth investigation?

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