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— A reliance on others for our self-worth

When emotions become harmful

The ability to form healthy relationships with other people is an important part of human life. However, when these bonds with others become a compulsion it can result in codependency. Individuals who are codependent typically have low self-esteem and look outside of themselves to alleviate their distress.

This can lead to emotional and behavioural issues that can be harmful. An individual who is codependent becomes reliant on a sense of reward and satisfaction from feeling needed. It often affects family members or friends of a person suffering from addiction or other psychological disorder.

‘Codependents’ have good intentions. They may try to care for a person who is experiencing difficulties, but their care becomes self-defeating as it only enables destructive behaviour to continue.

The human toll of codependency

Symptoms of codependency include a compulsive need to ‘fix’ or control other people and / or situations. Individuals typically blame others for their feelings and may experience difficulty trusting others, fear of intimacy, avoidance issues and hyper-vigilance (constantly being on edge).

People with codependency often maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive or abusive. Codependents may also develop addictions of their own or adopt compulsive behaviours such as eating disorders, gambling or sex and love addiction.

Codependency is similar to Dependent Personality Disorder, which the World Health Organization lists as having symptoms that include a pervasive reliance on other people to make decisions, fear of abandonment and feeling helpless or incompetent.

Codependency and the family

Codependency is a learned behaviour than can be passed from one generation to the next in dysfunctional families. Originally, the term ‘codependent’ as used to describe partners who were in a relationship with, a person suffering from addiction. Similar patterns can exist in relationships with individuals who are chronically ill. However, the term has now broadened to describe any codependent person.

A dysfunctional family is one whose members suffer from fear, anger, pain or shame, which is ignored or denied. Underlying issues may also include physical, emotional or sexual abuse.  However, with the help and support of qualified professionals and clinical experts it is it is possible to overcome codependency. For further details please contact us.

Useful inks

Co-Dependents Anonymous International (CoDA)

Go to treatment & costs for codependency