Addiction and other compulsive disorders are progressive, debilitating, and they often have long-ranging effects; not just on the individual involved in the disorder, but it also has a profound effect on the individuals in his or her life. Friends and family members involved in relationships with these compulsive individuals often suffer collateral damage in the form of developing dysfunctional patterns for “making a painful truce with the dependent individual whom they cannot live with nor without” (Harkness, 2003, p. 261). These patterns are often an attempt to “control the compulsive individuals’ behavior” (Beattie, 1992, p. 34) and can be defined as codependency. This document will review codependence symptoms, differences between caring, loving, and codependency with an attempt to review and critique the codependency model.
According to Treadway (1990), codependency is a pattern of painful dependence on compulsive behaviors and on approval from others in an attempt to find safety, self-worth, and identity. Codependency is often characterized by caretaking, low self-worth, repression, obsession, controlling behavior, denial, dependency, weak boundaries, poor communication, anger, sex problems, and lack of trust (Beattie, 1992, p. 34). It is thought that these patterns of dysfunction are established at an early age and are most likely developed in the individuals’ family of origin. These destructive patterns are a mechanism to protect and meet unmet needs previously unmet by the other individual in the relationship. Codependents are hyper-focused on taking care of others that they neglect themselves. Often this is because they cannot differentiate the difference between caring, loving, and codependency.
In a codependent relationship love, respect, and trust are compromised....