Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives

Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062505897
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/29/2003
Edition description: 1st ed
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 30,618
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Pia Mellody is an internationally renowned lecturer on the childhood origins of emotional dysfunc-tion. Her recovery work-shops have benefited people all over the world and her bestselling books have been translated into many languages. She is a member of the faculty at The Meadows Treatment Center, a residential center for victims of trauma, emotional abuse, and addictions, in Wickenburg, Arizona.

J. Keith Miller, the author of A Hunger for Healing, is a popular speaker and conference leader, and author. Among his best-selling books are The Taste of New Wine and Hope in the Fast Lane. He is also the coauthor of Facing Codependence.

Read an Excerpt

Facing Codependence
What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives

An increasing number of people have recognized themselves in the symptoms described in the following pages. They have begun to desire to change, to clear up the distortions, and to be healed from the painful aftermath of experiencing childhood in a dysfunctional family.

If you are such a person, I want to offer you a great deal of hope. The first major step in changing and clearing up these distortions requires facing the fact that the disease exists in your life. One of the purposes of this book is to describe what the symptoms are, where they come from, and how they sabotage our lives, so that you can learn to recognize co dependence operating in your own life.

This disease and its link to various forms of child abuse is a complex subject. Because of dysfunctional childhood experiences a co-dependent adult lacks the ability to be a mature person capable of living a full and meaningful life. Two key areas of a person′s life reflect codependence: the relationship with the self and relationships with others. The relationship with one′s self, I believe, is the most important, because when people have a respectful, affirming relationship with themselves, relationships with others automatically become less dysfunctional and more respectful and affirming. Much has been written about codependence in recent years, and many symptoms and characteristics have been described. My own work tells me that five symptoms form the core of the disease. Organizing the discussion of codependence around these five symptoms seems tomake it easier to grasp how the disease operates. Codependents have difficulty

1. Experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem

2. Setting functional boundaries

3. Owning and expressing their own reality

4. Taking care of their adult needs and wants

5. Experiencing and expressing their reality moderately


I have come to believe that dysfunctional, less-than-nurturing, abusive family systems create children who become codependent adults. Our culture′s inherent belief that a certain kind of parenting is "normal" contributes to the difficulty of facing codependence. A closer examination of "normal" parenting techniques reveals that they include certain practices that actually tend to impair the growth and development of the child and lead to the development of codependence. In reality, what we tend to call normal parenting very often isn′t healthy for the child′s development; it is less-than-nurturing or abusive parenting.

For example, many people think the range of normal parenting includes hitting a child with a belt, slapping a child across the face, screaming at a child, calling a child names, having the child sleep with them, or being nude in front of a child who is older than age three or four. Or they think it acceptable to require small children to figure out a way to deal with life is situations and problems themselves, rather than providing a concrete set of rules for social conduct and some basic problem-solving techniques. Some parents also neglect to teach basic hygiene such as bathing, daily grooming, the use of deodorants, dental care, removing dirt, stains, and body odour from clothes, and how to keep them mended, expecting the children to learn somehow on their own.

Some parents think that if children are not given rigid rules and swift, severe punishment for breaking them, the children will become juvenile delinquents, teen unwed mothers, or drug addicts. Some parents, after making a mistake such as punishing a child in error because the full facts were not clear at the time of punishment, would never apologize to the child for the mistake. Such parents conceive that an apology would be seen as showing "weakness" that might undermine the parent′s authority.

Some parents believe, perhaps unconsciously, that children′s thoughts and feelings have little validity because the children are immature and need training. These parents respond to a child′s thoughts and feelings by saying "You shouldn′t feel that way" or "I don′t care if you don′t want to go to bed -you′re going because it′s good for you!" and believe they are training the child in a functional way.

Still other parents swing to the opposite extreme and over-protect their children, not making the children face the consequences of their own abusive and dysfunctional behaviour. Such parents are often very intimate with their children, using them for confidants and sharing secrets beyond the children′s level of development. This, too, is abusive.

Many of us who were raised in homes where this kind of behaviour was common grew up in the delusion that what happened to us was "normal" and appropriate. Our caregivers encouraged us to believe that our problems arose because we didrft respond appropriately to what happened to us. And many of us arrived in adulthood filled with baffling feelings and with a distorted way of looking at what happened in our family of origin. We got the idea that the way our families behaved toward us was correct and our caregivers were good. This meant by unconscious deduction that since we weren′t happy or comfortable with some things that went on, we were not "good." Also, we apparently couldn′t please our parents by being what we were naturally. This delusion that the abuse was normal and we were "wrong" locks us into the disease of codependence with no way out.

Facing Codependence
What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives
. Copyright (c) by Pia Mellody . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

John Bradshaw

“Mellody is a true pioneer...she offers tried and effective ways to treat codependency. This is a splendid offering.”

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Facing Codependence 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book explaining the root of codependence and the problems associated with it. It is very useful for people experiencing high levels of codependence. Perhaps a very painful eye-opener for those who are ready to face this type of awareness (if we are not ready, we can just deny it). However, I think that this book does not emphasize enough that codependence occurs in varying degrees. The best book that eloquently explains this as well as the process of becoming codependent and how to release ourselves from it is 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato. It is an incredibly well-written book and should be read by every adult in the world!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is designed to assist the person who has ever been abused deal with their lives by understanding what codependence is, where it comes from and how it sabatoges our lives. It is a way of managing the torment and anguish you were put through with great examples to everyday life. This book has turned my life, my partners life, and my childrens life around a full 360 degrees for the better. If you are serious in trying to manage and cope with abuse then this is the book to get you started.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read on this subject. It did enlighten me to the major areas I needed to concentrate on in correcting my problems. God Bless - Keep the Faith...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What an interesting book - I related to almost everything in this book. No wonder I am the way I am.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has been a very helpful book. The examples given were more extreme that situations in my life but I learned a lot about the history & 'illness' of co-dependence.
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