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In 1986, Melanie Beatty published a book called "Codependent no More" that change the addiction recovery landscape. The original definition of a codependent was people whose lives had become unmanageable as a result of living in a committed relationship with an alcoholic.
According to Melanie Beatty, the definition for codependency has expanded since then:
"Professionals began to better understand the effects of the chemically dependent person on the family, and the effects of the family on the chemically dependent person. Professionals began to identify other problems such as overeating and undereating, gambling and certain sexual behaviors. These compulsive disorders paralleled the compulsive disorder or illness of alcoholism. Professionals also began to notice many people in close relationships with these compulsive people developed patterns of reacting and coping that resembled the coping patterns of people in relationships with alcoholics. Something peculiar had happened to these families too.
A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.
The other person might be a child, an adult, a lover, a spouse, a brother, a sister, a grandparent. He or she could be an alcoholic, a drug addict, a mentally or physically ill person, a normal person who occasionally has sad feelings or one of the people mentioned earlier.
But, the heart of the definition and recovery lies not in the other person – no matter how much we believe it does. It lies in ourselves, in the ways we have let other people’s behavior affect us and in the ways we try to affect them: the obsessing, the controlling, the obsessive "helping," caretaking, low self-worth bordering on self-hatred, self-repression, abundance of anger and guilt, peculiar dependency on peculiar people, attraction to and tolerance for the bizarre, other-centeredness that results in abandonment of self, communication problems, intimacy problems and an ongoing whirlwind trip through the five-stage grief process."
At Therapia, we use the work of Melanie Beatty to understand the issues of codependency and begin the process of recovery.
What is Codependency?
A codependent person is one who has let another person's behaviour affect him or her and is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior.
Am I a codependent helper? Codependent caretakers may:
Think and feel responsible for other people and their feelings
Feel anxiety, pity and guilt when other people have a problem
Feel compelled – almost forced to help that person solve the problem
Feel angry when help isn't effective
Anticipate other people's needs
Wonder why others don't do the same for them (attaching strings)
Find themselves saying "yes" when they mean "no"
Not know what they want and need or, if they do, think it is not important
Try to please others instead of themselves
Feel safest when giving
Feel insecure or guilty when somebody gives to them
Feel sad in spending their life in giving to others and nobody gives to them
Find themselves attracted to needy people and needy people attracted to them
Feel bored, empty and worthless if they don't have a problem/crisis to solve
Abandon their routine to respond or do something for someone else
Feel harried and pressured
Feel angry, victimized, unappreciated and used
From Melody Beattie, "Codependent No More" 1987
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