Codependency is a unique condition that presents within relationships, in which one person enables another’s behaviors at the detriment of their own wellbeing. The codependent individual demonstrates an overreliance on others for approval and a sense of identity, a tendency to caretaker and ignore their own needs, and an inflated sense of responsibility. Among other characteristics they also typically display an overwhelming need to control those around them, lack of trust, low self-esteem, and fear of abandonment. Codependency is born from dysfunctional family dynamics, namely abuse, addiction, and chronic physical and mental illness. The codependent person takes on the role of caretaker and finds esteem in the unhealthy caring for others who can care for themselves. The dynamic continues to cause harm to the codependent, resulting in the development of a victim mentality and feelings of helplessness.
Due to its origin in childhood, effective treatment requires consideration of early childhood experiences. A therapist can help show how the coping mechanisms developed in childhood are contributing to the negative patterns in their current relationships. Talk therapy can help to expose the realities of codependent behaviors and the harm they cause to the codependent individual. By identifying one’s own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, the codependent individual can learn how to take care of themselves and allow others to do the same. Recovery from codependency can benefit from dedicated time with a therapist to relearn self-care, self-love, and self-reliance.