The description of codependence or codependency,among troubled teens, whether professional or self-help, is extensive with different definitions and perceptions of the term. The word codependence has been used as a vague constellation of traits involving many things from personality traits to a progressive personality disorder. Codependent troubled teens are ones who have let another person’s behavior affect them and they are obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior (Beattie, 1992). If you, the parent, or your troubled teen are struggling with codependency we can help both of you. We offer complete support for all parties involved. Codependency can be treated and we will show you how.
What is Codependence or Codependency?
The term of codependency was first defined in the area of addictions to denote the attitude and behavior of spouses and troubled teens of persons with addictions to alcohol and other drugs. This description of a group of troubled teens has been changed with sometimes contradictory meanings by authors of popular literature. The codependent person may show signs of interpersonal reactivity and obsession with interpersonal control. They may also suffer when they are associated or attending to others and a preoccupation with others characterized by extreme dependency. The difficulty in achieving a clear definition of codependency is more a reflection of a troubled teens conceptual inadequacy than a reflection of its reality as a concrete entity (Harkness, 2003).
Codependency describes a person who may struggle with boundary distortions, enmeshed relationships, and an exaggerated sense of responsibility to meet the needs of others while unable to acknowledge their own needs. An individual in a relationship with a chemically dependent person inadvertently reinforces the behavior of the addict by enabling them.
It is suggested that the codependent person looses their true and authentic self through the destructive behaviors of the chemically dependent person. The true self goes into hiding and a false or codependent person takes over resulting in a sense of emptiness, shame, guilt, and other negative affective states. The codependent person can be described as overreacting to external events, while simultaneously ignoring internal cues and feelings (Stafford, 2001). With the expansion of the term codependency, its definition has shifted from the original addictions definition to include anyone who is in a relationship which is physically and or emotionally damaging (Hoenigmann-Lion, Whitehead, 2006).
Codependent individuals may have self-protective behaviors that they do not recognize as self defeating. The behaviors become self-destructive and many codependent people think and feel responsible for other people’s feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs and well being. Other characteristics shared are anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have problems. Codependent people can anticipate other people’s needs and wonder why others do not do the same for them. They say yes to do things when they really want to say no, feel that their feelings and needs are not important and try to please others instead of themselves (Beattie, 1992).
Codependence and Codependency Characteristics
Individuals with codependency characteristics may not know what they want or need and try to please others instead of themselves. Codependent individuals find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others, rather than what is done to them. They feel insecure and guilty when somebody gives to them. Bored, empty, and worthlessness are feelings that are expressed every day. If they do not have a crises in their lives, a problem to solve, or someone that needs help they are not happy. They feel angry, victimized, unappreciated, and used (Beattie, 1992).
Individuals that have personality disorders and codependency issues often seek treatment at the insistence of family members because of the rigid patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving have interacted negatively with the their world of work and social relationships. Therapy that involves behavioral and psychopharmacological techniques have shown to be effective. Dialectical behavior therapy has also shown to be effective treatment for codependency individuals (Hoenigmann-Lion, Whitehead, 2006).
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Beatttie, M. (1992). Codependent No More. Hazelden Foundation, Center City, Minnesota (2nd) Edition.
Daniel Harkness. (2003). To have and to hold: Codependency as a mediator or moderator of the relationship between substance abuse in the family or origin and adult-offspring medical problems[dagger]. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 35(2), 261. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from Criminal Justice Periodicals. (Document ID: 386762231).
Fletcher, D. (2010). Codependency: Good, bad or both? Counseling Today, 53(1), 16-17. Retrieved from Education Research Complete database.
Hoenigmann-Lion, N. Whitehead, G.I. (2006). The Relationship Between Codependency and Borderline and Dependent Personality Traits. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. Vol. 24(4).
Stafford, L.L. (2001). Is Codependency a Meaningful Concept? Issues in Mental Health Nursing. Health Science Center, School of Nursing. 1100 Holcombe Blvd., TX. 77030
Stevens, P., Smith, R. (2009). Introduction to Substance Abuse Counseling. Theory and Practice (4th Edition). Pearson Education. Upper Saddle, NJ