"Is someone else's problem your problem? If, like so many others, you've lost sight of your own life in the drama of tending to someone else's, you may be codependent."
Codependency is the tendency for the victim in an abusive relationship to develop dysfunctional patterns or habits in the process of trying to cope with a family member or partner who is abusive or neglectful or has an addiction. These patterns include denial of the problem, enabling or support of the abusive behavior, poor sense of self-worth, abandonment of personal goals or values and development of controlling or manipulative behaviors.
Codependents are generally unsatisfied with the status quo, yet often fear the consequences of trying to make a change, of trying to detach or put a stop to the abuse
.Codependence was first described as a problem observed in children of alcoholics, who developed distinctive patterns of denial, shame, avoidance, lack of boundaries, low self-worth and excessive sensitivity to the needs of others in an attempt to compensate for their parents' disorders. These characteristics often carry over into adulthood and s-called "adult children" often find themselves in patterns of unstable social relationships.The terms "codependent" and "dysfunctional " originally referred to families specifically affected by alcoholism. However, these terms have been popularly generalized to include any household situation involving a neglectful or abusive family member. Therefore, codependency often describes the characteristics of family members, spouses and partners of people who suffer from personality disorders and other mental illnesses
Characteristics of Codependency
I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
I minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.
I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the wellbeing of others.
Low Self Esteem Patterns:
I have difficulty making decisions.
I judge everything I think, say or do harshly, as never "good enough."
I am embarrassed to receive recognition and praise or gifts.
I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires
I value others' approval of my thinking, feelings and behavior over my own.
I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.
I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others' anger.
I am very sensitive to how others are feeling and feel the same.
I am extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
I value others' opinions and feelings more than my own and am afraid to express differing opinions and feelings of my own.
I put aside my own interests and hobbies in order to do what others want.
I accept sex when I want love.
I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
I attempt to convince others of what they "should" think and how they "truly" feel.
I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
I have to be "needed" in order to have a relationship with others.
Here are descriptions from our site of characteristics commonly found in codependents.
Avoidance - The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) - Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological injury that results from prolonged exposure to social or interpersonal trauma, disempowerment, captivity or entrapment, with lack or loss of a viable escape route for the victim.
Depression (Non-PD) -Depression is when you feel sadder than your circumstances dictate, for longer than your circumstances last, but still can't seem to break out of it.
Enabling - Enabling is a pattern of behavior, often adopted by abuse victims, which seeks to avoid confrontation and conflict by absorbing the abuse without challenging it or setting boundaries. The perpetrator of the abuse is thus "enabled" to continue their pattern of behavior.
Fix-It Syndrome - Fix-It Syndrome is when a non-personality-disordered individual frequently puts themselves in the position of a caretaker who is responsible for compensating for their personality-disordered loved-one's behaviors, cleaning up any messes created by their actions and fixing any problems arising from their mental health issues.
Fleas - When a non-personality-disordered individual (Non-PD) begins imitating or emulating some of the disordered behavior of a loved one or family member with a personality disorder this is sometimes referred to as "getting fleas".
FOG - Fear, Obligation & Guilt - The acronym FOG, for Fear, Obligation and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in Emotional Blackmail and describes feelings that a person often has when in a relationship with someone who suffers from a personality disorder. Our website, Out of the FOG, is named after this acronym.
Abuse Amnesia - Abuse Amnesia is a form of denial in which a victim habitually "forgives and forgets" episodes of abuse when it would be more appropriate, and ultimately better for both parties, to hold them accountable for their own actions.
Hyper Vigilance - Maintaining an unhealthy level of interest in the behaviors, comments, thoughts and interests of others.
Lack of Boundaries - A lack of boundaries is often at the root of long-term abusive relationships. Lack of boundaries means the absence of rules, limits and guidelines for acceptable behavior. Inconsistent or intermittent reinforcement of consequences for inappropriate behavior is common among both abusers and abuse victims.
Learned Helplessness- Learned helplessness is when a person begins to believe that they have no control over a situation, even when they do.
Low Self-Esteem - A common term used to describe a group of negatively-distorted self-views which are inconsistent with reality.
Anger - Anger is what you feel when you don't get what you think you deserve. Non-PD's often feel a sense of anger over past abuses, an uncertain future outlook, unequal burden-sharing and persistent denial of their personal needs.
Denial - Denial is the practice of believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.
Obedience - In 1961 and 1962, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram performed a famous series of experiments which demonstrated that about 2 out of 3 people will perform a cruel action towards another person if instructed to do so by someone whom they regard as an authority figure. This demonstrated that most people are prone to doing something they do not want to do, even something they would normally regard as "wrong", just because they are told to do it by an assertive or authoritative person.
Rescuer Syndrome - Rescuer Syndrome is when a non-personality-disordered individual assumes that their own strength, skill and knowledge are adequate to compensate for a personality-disordered individual's behavioral issues.
Stockholm Syndrome - Stockholm Syndrome is when a hostage, kidnap victim or abuse victim develops a sense of loyalty or co-operation towards their captor or abuser, disregarding the abuse or the danger and protecting or sustaining the perpetrator.
Five years ago, a photographer, an engineer, a writer, an office manager, a grandmother, a graphic artist, a law student, a husband, a librarian, and a stained-glass artisan came together to connect a diverse, isolated population in search of information, support, and growth as they strive to cope with a family members, spouses or partners who suffer from a personality disorder. Since its launch on November 1, 2007, Out Of The FOG has grown from a fledgling discussion group with 10 participants, to a vibrant community of over 4000 registered members world-wide, with new members joining every day.
On August 31 2012, the Out of the FOG Support Forum crossed two significant milestones - 100,000 member posts and 10,000 topics. Thanks to all who participate and contribute to the OOTF support board, which is a unique source of support to non-personality-disordered individuals all over the world.