Three types of codependents
- Caretakers – relate to others primarily through roles which put the caretaker in a position of the giver, helper, supporter, nurturer, etc. “Everyone’s needs are more important than my own.”
- Romance – relationship addiction – must be in a “relationship” and be “special” to someone in order to be OK with oneself; may use caretaking and sexuality to gain approval/acceptance; projects his/her pretend personality upon the other person to avoid or diminish the authenticity of the other (husband, wife, child, friend); goes from relationship to relationship with unresolved problems. “You’re no one unless someone loves you.”
- Messiah complex –savior and rescuer of the family, church, world; over-responsible, doesn’t ask for help, tries to make himself indispensable. “If I don’t do it won’t get done.”
Symptoms of codependency
- External – referenced, generally on another person or on other people.
- Tries to control behavior of others through approval – seeking and people – pleasing behavior.
- Experiences intimacy by discounting own feelings, and empathizing with feelings of others.
- Unhealthy boundaries, generally resulting from doing things for others that violate one’s values, and from accepting unacceptable behavior from others.
- Frozen feelings, numbness with regard to one’s own feelings. Depression may also result from repressed anger failing control.
- Inferiority. Self is valued according to others’ opinions. Uses martyr, victim, and messiah role to bolster confidence. Struggling with a mindset of poverty (not worthy to receive, someone else has to approve)
- Generalized anxiety, related to lack of control of one’s life.
- Mental preoccupation. Racing thoughts, inability to enjoy mental silence and serenity.
- Lack of assertiveness. Inability to ask directly for one’s true needs. Inability to confront unhealthy behavior in others.
- Narcissism. In the absence of healthy, legitimate boundaries, others are seen as for or against self.
Problems often related to codependency and control
- Other addictions – codependents use drugs, zest for life to escape reality, traveling, shopping, food, dinners, TV to cope with feelings. The majority of addicts – even alcoholics – are codependents. Recovery from other addictions fails if codependency is ignored or denied. As long as one is codependent, one is in some kind of an addictive process attempting to get free.
- Neuroses and psychoses – mental health problems with their own specific symptomology. Dynamics may develop out of codependency, neglect and abuse, causing rejection, rebellion, control and restricted development in the corpus callosum affecting the left and right Hemispheres .
- Brain damage – Underdevelopment of right or left hemispheres and shrinkage of the corpus callosum caused by neglect, treat of abandonment, abuse or control.
- Physical health problems – stress reduces effectiveness of immune system to fight off diseases.
- Spiritual disconnection – Major emphasis on the preservation of natural life limits the fellowship and source of strength from the Holy Spirit.