Signs of a Codependent Relationship

Signs of a Codependent Relationship - Signs of a...

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Signs of a Codependent Relationship Unhealthy dependencies and repressed anger could be just a few red flags that you are codependent. By Jeanie Lerche Davis WebMD Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD She knows it's not right. Once again, Carol (not her real name) has lent money to her son -- this time to get his car fixed. This son is 35 and still living in the family room, where he's coasted since high school. Carol feels guilty giving him money, but what can she do? He needs to get his car fixed. He needs to look for work. It's a common scenario in today's world. It's also an example of a codependent relationship. Family secrets. Guilt. Shame. Repressed anger. Low self-esteem. Compromising your own values to avoid another person's rejection or anger. Those are just a few red flags of codependence. Indeed, codependence is a term once linked only to alcoholism or drug addiction . "Codependent meant the person who enabled the alcoholic," says Avrum Geurin Weiss, PhD, director the Pine River Psychotherapy Training Institute in Atlanta. "The classic situation is the husband gets drunk, can't go in to work, so the wife calls the boss and says he won't be in today." Today's psychologists have a broader definition. "It really is about unhealthy emotional dependencies," says Carol Cannon, MA, a counselor and program director at The Bridge to Recovery in Bowling Green, Ky. In some sense, all relationships are codependent, Cannon tells WebMD. "Many people have what I call a 'low-grade infection.' It's always there, but they've been able to adapt to it, work around it. Others have the more aggressive form -- they get more and more depressed, develop addictions and relationship problems. They become self-destructive or unduly self-sacrificing. They end up anxious, depressed, and suicidal ." People often get addicted to hope: The hope that the person will change, adds Jeanne McKeon, EdD, a psychologist at the Center for Addictive Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "Before anything can change, you first have to deal with that addiction to hope. You have to start setting limits. You have to figure out a plan to change things; one that makes sense. Then move through those steps -- not allowing any backpedaling." Origins in Childhood
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Childhood is the breeding ground for a vulnerability to codependency. It is typically triggered by an underlying problem in the family -- a parent with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, or the "clean addictions" like work, food, religion, gambling, computer games, Cannon explains. "Even misery can be an addiction," she adds. "People get hooked on their own unhappiness, the victim mentality. They learn to get attention by getting people to feel sorry for them." Mental illness (like depression), abuse (sexual, physical, and emotional), a chronic illness in the family, divorce -- they also set the stage for codependency.
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