Codependent No More: Situational Codependence

Uploaded 1/10/2015, approx. 4 minute read

My name is Sam Vaknin, I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.

Some patients develop co-dependent behaviors and co-dependent traits in the wake of a life crisis, especially the life crisis involves an abandonment and the resulting solitude. Example would be a divorce or an empty nest when one's children embark on their own autonomous lives and leave home altogether. Such late-onset adult co-dependence fosters a complex emotional and behavioral chain reaction, whose role is to result in a conflict by ridding oneself of the emergent, undesirable co-dependent conduct.

The new co-dependent is unhappy with her traits and behaviors, she wants to rid herself of them.

But there's a discrepancy between consciousness and the unconscious. Consciously, such a patient may at first feel liberated, especially after a nasty divorce. But unconsciously, being abruptly dumped and lonesome has a disorienting and a disconcerting effect, a little like intoxication.

Many patients rush headlong and indiscriminately into new relationships. Deep inside, this kind of patient is always dreaded being lonely, not alone.

So following the divorce, the death of a significant other or intimate father, the passing away of parents or other loved ones, children relocating to college and similar episodes of dislocation.

Following this, she suppresses this dread of being lonely, because she possesses no real, effective solutions and antidotes to her sudden solitude. She has developed no meaningful ways to cope with her overwhelming loneliness.

We are told that denied and repressed emotions often erupt and re-emerge in camouflage in disguise, as it were. The dread of ending up all alone is so great that the patient becomes co-dependent in order to make sure that she never finds herself in a similar situation again.

A co-dependence is a series of dysfunctional behaviors that are intended to fend off abandonment.

Still, patients who develop situational co-dependence, unlike the classic long-life co-dependence, are fundamentally balanced and strong personalities. They cherish their self-control. So they always keep all their options open, including the vital option of going it alone yet again. They make sure to choose the wrong partner. That's their way of getting rid of their co-dependence. They choose their own partner and then they spectacularly expose his egregious misconduct so that they can get rid of him and together with him of the newly acquired co-dependence and all this in good conscience and at the same time.

And so to reiterate, the situational co-dependence is characterized by a deep-set fear of being lonely, a kind of abandonment anxiety, a form of attachment disorder. And this is an underline, dormant, inner lens. This lurking, abandonment anxiety is awakened by life's tribulations, a divorce, an emptiness, the death of one's nearest and nearest.

Once this abandonment anxiety is awakened, at first the newly found freedom is exhilarating and intoxicating, but this feel-good factor actually serves to enhance the anxiety. The inner dialogue goes something like this.

What if it feels so good to be alone that I will opt to remain by myself for the rest of my days? This prospect is so terrifying.

So feeling good and being alone enhances abandonment anxiety.

And so a conflict erupts between conscious emotions and behaviors like liberation, joy, pleasure-seeking, etc.

And a nagging, unconscious anxiety.

The dialogue is, or actually the monologue is, I'm not getting any younger. This can't go on forever. I've got to settle down, got to find an appropriate mate or spouse. I should not be left alone, etc.

And this is only unconscious there.

So to allay, to resolve this internal tension, the patient comes up with situational co-dependence as a coping strategy.

The aim is to attract and bond with a mate so as to forestone abandonment.

Yet the situational co-dependent is egodystonic. In other words, she is very unhappy with her co-dependence, though at this stage she is utterly unaware of all its dynamics.

Co-dependence runs contrary to her primary nature as accomplished, assertive, self-confident person with a well-regulated sense of self-worth. She feels the need to frustrate this new set of compulsive addictions, her new co-dependence. She feels the need to get rid of her co-dependence because it threatens who she is and who she thinks she is, her self-perception.

She says to herself, I am not that clingy, maudlin, weak, out-of-control type. It's disgusting.

All her life she has known herself to be strong, a good judge of character, intelligent and in control, and co-dependence doesn't become her, definitely.

But how to get rid of this newly acquired disease? What to do?

Well, three easy steps.

One, the situational co-dependent chooses the wrong partner, unconsciously, of course. She then proves to her satisfaction that he is the wrong partner for her.

And then she gets rid of him, thus re-establishing her mustery, her autonomy, resilience, self-control, and demonstrating incredibly that she is co-dependent no more.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

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.

Codependence and Dependent Personality Disorder

Co-dependence is a complex multi-faceted and multi-dimensional defense against the co-dependence fears and needs. There are four types of co-dependence: abandonment, control, vicarious, and counter-dependent. The dependent personality disorder is a much disputed mental health diagnosis, and clinicians use subjective terms such as craving, clinging, stifling, humiliating, and submissive. Codependents are possessed with fantastic worries and concerns and are paralyzed by their abandonment anxiety and fear of separation.

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.

Issues and Goals in the Treatment of Dependent Personality Disorder (Codependence, or Codependency)

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.

The Mentally Ill Form Couples

Mentally ill individuals often form couples or dyads, which can lead to fused relationships and trauma bonding. Coping strategies include active denial, enabling, and avoidance. Avoidance can lead to extreme estrangement and cruel disengagement, causing the mentally ill partner to act out in provocative or reckless ways. In extreme cases, the significant other can become a superego replacement, leading to major depressive attitudes, psychotic disorders, and even suicide.

Fear of Intimacy Rationalized

People who fear intimacy have a phobia of exposing their vulnerabilities and committing to a long-term relationship. This fear is rooted in a deep distrust of the world and other people. They tend to devalue their intimate partner and imagine negative scenarios for the future. Fear of intimacy is a form of diffuse anxiety that causes people to withdraw and avoid intimate relationships. It is a cycle that can never be broken or interrupted, leading to a never-ending chase that never culminates in a happy ending.

Narcissist Father: Save Your Child

Parents who are worried about their children becoming narcissists under the influence of a narcissistic parent should stop trying to insulate their children from the other parent's influence. Instead, they should make themselves available to their children and present themselves as a non-narcissistic role model. Narcissistic parents regard their children as a source of narcissistic supply and try to control their lives through guilt-driven, dependence-driven, goal-driven, and explicit mechanisms. The child is the ultimate secondary source of narcissistic supply, and the narcissistic parent tries to perpetuate the child's dependence using control mechanisms. The narcissistic parent tends to produce another narcissist in some of their children, but this outcome can be effectively countered by loving, empathic, predictable, just, and positive upbringing, which encourages a

When the Narcissist's Parents Die

The death of a narcissist's parents can be a complicated experience. The narcissist has a mixed reaction to their passing, feeling both elation and grief. The parents are often the source of the narcissist's trauma and continue to haunt them long after they die. The death of the parents also represents a loss of a reliable source of narcissistic supply, which can lead to severe depression. Additionally, the narcissist's unfinished business with their parents can lead to unresolved conflicts and pressure that deforms their personality.

Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers

Narcissistic mothers can have a significant impact on their adult daughters' relationships, with children of narcissistic parents being ill-adapted and prone to deploying psychological defense mechanisms. They can become co-dependent, needy, demanding, and submissive, fearing abandonment and displaying immature behaviors. Some children of narcissistic parents become inverted narcissists, craving relationships with narcissists, while others become counterdependent or even narcissists themselves. Narcissistic mothers micromanage their child's life and encourage dependent and infantile behaviors, emotionally blackmailing them and threatening to disinherit them if they do not comply with their wishes.

Borderline Codependent: Clinging Child, Punitive Parent

Codependency in parents can lead to children who only receive conditional love based on their performance. This can result in a child who is objectified and treated as an extension of the parent. The child learns that to obtain affection, they must perform, leading to a lack of self-love. This can result in a psychopath, passive-aggressive personality disorder, masochistic adult, or an adult with depressive disorders. Codependents often experience extreme abandonment anxiety and swing between self-effacing and explosive behaviors due to divided loyalties between their partner and internalized parent.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy