How Codependency Can Make You Sick

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I believe firmly that it is only a matter of time before codependency becomes a recognised disorder. As discussed many times by this author, I have been challenged on occasions to prove that codependency truly exists and is not just a symptom of another disorder. The many clients I have who show similar debilitating symptoms that are associated with enmeshment and the typical childhood scenario that fosters this are testimony to the devastating effects of codependency. The fact is that many, many people suffer from this thing called codependency or the “love addiction” and that cannot be disputed.

Far from being a symptom of another disorder, we can look at this issue from another angle. Many codependents will develop other issues as a direct result of their codependency. In the never ending quest for connection with a string of partners who are mostly emotionally distant, a myriad of other complaints can arise complicating the codependent issues they have.

Depression: Many codependents I treat have depression. The world is often a confusing place for them. A world where they do all they can to please with very little validation (one of the main issues of codependency is helping with expected return of validation). While it is not healthy at all to look outside of oneself for validation, codependents until treated effectively are on an endless quest for just that, mirroring the relationships they had as children with neglectful parents. This never-ending grind to obtain connection can be a frustrating experience often leading to a depressive state. This is often fuelled by typical self-talk. “What’s wrong with me?” “Why does this always happen to me?”

Anxiety. Anxiety is often present during a relationship with a narcissist and after. Codependents are very conscious of changes in their environment around their emotionally distant partner and anxiously look for change in moods, etc. This enables them to adapt their behaviour to these changes. The anxiety comes from the typical insecurity that codependents carry as a core wound which is often around abandonment issues. Anxiety after the relationship finishes is often centred around contact with the narcissist and the gaslighting that is often associated with their interaction, especially when children are involved.

Anger Issues. Codependents can be very angry people when they perceive failure in their attempts to fix others. Sometimes, this anger is internalised and exhibited in passive aggressiveness but often it externalised in rage and voice raising. This is due to the feeling that the sacrifice and giving is not having the desired effect or return. It is part of the drama triangle often associated with controlling codependency.

Fear. This plays a major factor in the way a codependent thinks. They often have a fear of being alone, abandoned, being intimate and being emotionally honest. This fear will keep them in a dysfunctional, often abusive relationship and they will avoid positive change.

Learned Helplessness. Part of the drama triangle that is often present around codependents, is the concept of victimhood. The drama triangle suggests that after a “fixing” episode hasn’t produced the desired return, anger follows and then victimhood. Many codependents I know have taken this a stage further and play the “perpetual victim”. They naturally take the stance that they are incapable of “doing” and need constant help and attention to do the most meagre tasks. This, of course, is another control method aimed at getting the connection they need.

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Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Marty

    I find some expect perfection from all they do

    Making mistakes opens the thought gates of unworthiness

    Is perfection worth our happiness

    The answer I get is no but behavior says yes until they become aware

    1. DonaLuna

      I’m sensing many cases of co dependence is actually “ bound by trauma”
      That’s a whole nother thing.
      I’m not a weak woman, I married a NPD plus, all my efforts to seek help
      forvour family were thwarted. I was made it by APA involuntary addiction
      and toxically sick, my “ codependance “ was actualized in rejection in
      house for 5 very long tournamented years , Reduced by prescribed RX
      often to the emotional and physical needs of a 5 year old , any expectation
      of support , was thwarted after walked out on each of us…
      He’s pushed the “ codependent “ hysterical fat lazy and crazy , to protect
      his abuse , and how bound each of our 3 sons and I are in the trauma of
      a Narscistic …20 years of this overtly discrimation is enough ..

      Frankly the faulty ,moften errous DSM has infected many minds in alienating
      via analysis of conjured codes that are covered by insurance governing the law
      so it’s epidemic in incorrectly diagnosing factually and certainly in spiritual
      and soul based abuses .

      1. Dr. Nicholas Jenner

        I would absolutely concur regarding developmental trauma. Codependency can be traced back to neglectful and abusive primary relationships with caregivers. It truly is an epidemic on a global scale. Ax for the DSM, yes that is an issue. Many codependents I have come across have been “classified” with a code for the insurance companies, mostly GAD or Depression, which may or may not exist. This is where the main argument for the doubters comes from. I had a peer tell me ‘If it isn’t in the DSM, it doesn’t exist’.