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Codependence and Dependent Personality Disorder

Uploaded 9/12/2010, approx. 6 minute read

I am Sam Vakninand I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.


There is a great confusion regarding the terms co-dependent, counterdependent and straightforward dependent.

Let us try to clarify them.

Start with co-dependence. Co-dependence depend on other people for their emotional gratification and the performance of both inconsequential and crucial daily and psychological functions. Co-dependence are needy, demanding and submissive. They suffer from abandonment anxietyand to avoid being overwhelmed by it co-dependence cling to others and act immaturely. These behaviors are intended to elicit protective responses and to safeguard their relationship with their companion or mate upon whom they depend.

Co-dependence appear to be impervious to abuse. No matter how badly they are mistreated, they remain committed to the so-called relationship. This is where the co- in co-dependence comes into play.

By accepting the role of victims, co-dependence seek to control their abusers and to manipulate them. It is a dance macabre in which both members of the dyad collaborate.

There are four types of co-dependence.

Co-dependence is a complex multi-faceted and multi-dimensional defense against the co-dependence fears and needs.

The first type of co-dependent is a co-dependent that aims to fend anxieties related to abandonment. These co-dependence are clingy, smothering, prone to panic, are plagued with ideas of reference and display self-negating submissiveness.

The main concern of type one co-dependence is to prevent their victims, friends, spouses, family members, from deserting them or from attaining true autonomy and independence.


There's a second type of co-dependent and it is geared to cope with the co-dependence fear of losing control.

By feigning helplessness and neediness, such co-dependence coerce their environment into ceaselessly catering to their needs, wishes and requirements.

These co-dependence are drama queens and their life is a kaleidoscope of instability and chaos. They refuse to grow up and force their nearest and dearest to treat them as emotional and or physical invalids as children.

These co-dependence deploy their self-imputed deficiencies and disabilities as weapons.

Both the first type and the second type of co-dependent use emotional blackmail and when necessary, threats to secure the presence and blind compliance of their supplies.

There is a third type of co-dependent that is a vicarious co-dependent. The vicarious co-dependent lives through others. She sacrifices herself in order to glory in the accomplishments of their chosen targets. Such co-dependence subsists on reflected lives, on second-hand applause, on derivative achievements. They have no personal history and no personal accomplishments. They have suspended their wishes, preferences and dreams in favor of another person and that person is the person they are co-dependent on.

Finally, there's a form of co-dependence that is so subtle that it usually eludes detection until late and it is a counter-dependent.

Counter-dependence reject and despise authority and often clash with authority figures, parents, the boss, the law. Their sense of self-worth and their very self-identity are premised on and derived from these acts of bravura and defiance. In other words, their sense of self-worth and self-identity and self-confidence and self-esteem are dependent on these anti-authority actions.

Counter-dependence are fiercely independent, controlling, self-centered and aggressive. Many of them are anti-social and they use projective identification. In other words, they force people to behave in ways that buttress and affirm the counter-dependence view of the world and his expectations.

These behavior patterns are often the result of deep-seated fear of intimacy. In an intimate relationship, the counter-dependent feels enslaved and snared, trapped, captive, shackled, suffocated.

Counter-dependence are locked into approach avoidance repetition complex cycles. Hesitant approach is followed by avoidance of commitment. Counter-dependence are lone whores and bad team players.

The dependent personality disorder is a much disputed mental health diagnosis.

We are all dependent to some degree. We all like to be taken care of.

When is this need judged to be pathological, compulsive, pervasive and excessive?

No one knows. The yardstick is arbitrary.

Clinicians who contributed to the study of this disorder use words such as craving, clinging, stifling, humiliating, submissive and they use these words both in relation to the codependent or the dependent and the victim.

But these are all subjective terms. They are open to disagreement and to differences of opinion.

Moreover, virtually all cultures encourage dependency to varying degrees. Even in developed countries, many women, the very old, the very young, the sick, the criminal and the mentally handicapped are denied personal autonomy and they are all legally and economically dependent on others or on the authorities.

Thus, the dependent personality disorder is diagnosed only when such behavior does not conform with social or cultural norms.

Codependences, as they are sometimes known, are possessed with fantastic worries and concerns and they are paralyzed by their abandonment, anxiety and fear of separation. Their inner turmoil renders them indecisive.

Even the simplest everyday decision becomes an excruciating ordeal. This is why codependents rarely initiate projects or do things on their own.

Dependents typically go around eliciting constant and repeated assurances and advice from myriad sources. This recurrent solicitation of SACOR is proof that the codependent seeks to transfer responsibility for his or her life to others, whether they have agreed or assumed it or not.

This recoil and studious avoidance of challenges may give the wrong impression that the dependent is indolent or insipid.

Yet, most dependents are neither. They are often fired by repressed ambition, energy and imagination.

It is the lack of self-confidence that holds them back. They don't trust their own abilities and judgment.

Absent an inner compass and a realistic assessment of their positive qualities on the one hand and their limitations on the other hand, dependents are forced to rely on crucial input from the outside and in this sense they are not unlike narcissists.

Realizing this, their behavior becomes self-negating. They never disagree with meaningful others or criticize them. They are afraid to lose their support and emotional nurturance.

I wrote in the Open Sights Encyclopedia, the codependent molds himself or herself and bends over backwards to cater to the needs of his nearest and dearest and to satisfy their every whim, wish, expectation and demand.

Nothing is too unpleasant or unacceptable if it serves to secure the uninterrupted presence of the codependent's family and friends and the emotional sustenance that she can extract or extort from them.

The codependent does not feel fully alive when alone. She feels helpless, threatened, ill at ease and childlike.

This acute discomfort of loneliness drives the codependent to hop from one relationship to another.

The sources of nurturance are interchangeable to the codependent being with someone, with anyone, no matter whom, is always preferable to solitude.

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Fight Abandonment and Separation Anxiety

Codependent behaviors such as clinging and smothering are rooted in a deep fear of abandonment and separation. To overcome this, codependents must confront their anxieties through psychotherapy, medication, and self-help methods such as meditation and engaging in meaningful activities. Codependents should also adopt a scientific approach to their relationships, construct alternative hypotheses, and test them before making impulsive decisions. The longevity of long-term relationships lies in being transparent and expressing emotions and concerns honestly. Finally, codependents should prepare detailed contingency plans for every eventuality to reduce anxiety and gain control.


Codependent's Inner Voice: "I Can’t Live Without Him/Her"

Co-dependence is an addiction that gives meaning to life and satisfies the need for excitement and thrills. It places the individual at the center of attention and allows them to manipulate people around them to do their bidding. Extreme cases require professional help, but most people with dependent traits and behaviors can help themselves by realizing that the world never comes to an end when relationships do. Analyzing addiction, writing down the worst possible scenario, making a list of all the consequences of the breakup, and sharing thoughts, fears, and emotions with friends and family can help.


Masochistic Personality Disorder (Masochism)

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Borderline Codependent: Clinging Child, Punitive Parent

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Professor Sam Vaknin discusses codependency, its various forms, and its impact on individuals. He explains the different categories of codependency, such as those related to abandonment anxiety, fear of losing control, vicarious codependents, and counter-dependence. He also delves into the psychological and emotional aspects of codependency, its roots in childhood experiences, and the potential for overcoming it through therapy and self-help.


Codependent No More: Situational Codependence

Situational co-dependence can develop in individuals who experience a life crisis, such as a divorce or the death of a loved one, resulting in a fear of abandonment and loneliness. Patients rush into new relationships to avoid being alone, but this can lead to dysfunctional behaviors that are intended to fend off abandonment. The conflict between conscious emotions and unconscious anxiety can lead to the development of situational co-dependence as a coping strategy. Patients can overcome this by choosing the wrong partner, proving to themselves that they are not co-dependent, and re-establishing their autonomy and self-control.


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Self-destructive behaviors are common and often go unnoticed. These behaviors can be a rejection of life or a rejection of oneself in life. Examples of self-destructive behaviors include constricting life, love addiction, perfectionism, self-denial, depression, anxiety, numbing, dissociation, and masochism. These behaviors often stem from insecure attachment and a lack of self-love, leading to a scorched earth policy and an inability to form attachments.


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In this video, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses how codependents see their intimate partners. Codependents are clingy and needy, and they insist on repeating sentences that border on brainwashing or indoctrination. They leverage learned helplessness into an art form and use emotional blackmail to get what they want. There are five categories of codependency stemming from the respective etiologies, including co-dependency that aims to fend off anxieties related to abandonment, co-dependency geared to cope with the co-dependence fear of losing control, vicarious co-dependency, borderline co-dependency or borderline narcissism, and counter-dependency.


Codependency State Of Mind, Not State Of Affairs

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Adulterous, Unfaithful Narcissists: Why Cheat and have Extramarital Affairs?

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