Is Codependency Real Or Just Over-diagnosed?

If you read the majority of articles on codependency, you would surely believe that anyone you might come across is either codependent or a narcissist. Psychology has always had its buzzwords. A few years ago, everybody was bipolar or borderline, and codependency might be classed by some as a new word in the same ilk. However, unlike the two terms mentioned, codependency has no diagnosable criteria that classes it as a recognized disorder or disease. Some observers doubt it even exists and therefore must be purely a symptom of a diagnosable disorder. Opinions are split.

However, I deal with many clients who show specific symptoms and behavior towards another person without any identifiable disorder being present. If we accept that the term codependency was first used in relation to alcoholism and addiction, it is not beyond belief that it can be also used to explain an “addiction” to relationships and what can be gained from being in a relationship. If we also accept that the average “codependent” cannot fathom the concept of interdependence (a basic foundation for a healthy relationship), then you can gather what is sought by the codependent from someone else. I do accept that codependency is probably over-diagnosed and is not always a factor in dysfunctional relationships, but we cannot ignore the evidence that it truly does exist. While I dispute some claims that as much as 80% of the world’s population is codependent, I do in my daily work recognize a lot of typical behavior that points in that direction.  Behavior patterns such as attempts to atempts to enmesh with a significant other, sacrificing and martyring tendencies, control mechanisms such as victim mentality, silent treatment, rage and self-pity, the attraction to emotionally distant and unavailable partners and the need thereof to “fix” that person. All consolidated by low self-esteem and an inferiority complex.

Codependents find it hard, given this, to set healthy and sustainable boundaries and are open to being taken advantage of frequently. In my experience, this behavior repeats itself in a never-ending search for connection. Something they have not truly experienced. Whatever we decide to label this behavioral issue, we cannot ignore that it affects many people’s lives. People who have learnt from an early age to work hard for validation, connection and ultimately love.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies with a speciality in CBT techniques. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr. Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who find taking therapy online as convenient and tailored for their needs. More Details HERE

4 Thoughts

  1. I agree, I think Codependency is overdiagnosed– or maybe the word over-used. I also think (not that you’re asking) OCD is over-used! Now that word, that bothers me. Love the way people, usually women, proudly announce they are “So OCD when it comes to my house, car, my….” fill in the blank.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to steal your thread.
    Thanks for the blog, have a great day!

  2. Codependency is real when you are enable the “acts” travel back to your family of origin and identify the “why” when you became the ” Care giver “that you are … and developed relationships that enabled behavior that was abusive, emotional, verbal manipulative ,and or easy swayed to justifying Acts that are emotionally unhealthy but also illegal actions ,,,, that you engage in… Illegal substance abuse (a big one ) You minimize may control it , minimize actions partake and make excuses for poor behavior!

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