I am often looking for articles on codependency whether on the internet, in conference programs, or new books and articles. Just last week I opened the on-line Addiction Professional magazine to find an article on Rethinking Men and Codependency. It is an interesting article with thought, theory, and treatment recommendations. I am pleased every time I see that others understand the importance of this topic to both recovery and to good mental health and good relationships.
There are several points made in the article which I resonate with: seeing codependent behaviors on a continuum, understanding the role of socialization in the origins of codependent behaviors, and teaching relational skills as a means of treatment. I appreciate that the article is addressing men and codependency specifically, and yet here in my comments, I will simply be responding to their offerings about codependency itself. In this blog I will be addressing the first of the three points I list above: seeing codependent behaviors on a continuum. I will respond to the other two points in future blogs.
This article caught my eye right on the first page when the authors state that codependency pathologizes intrinsically human behaviors and that codependency can be viewed on a continuum of relational behaviors: independent, interdependent, and codependent. I agree with these premises.
My use of the continuum in working with codependency involves this: I believe that it is important to look at codependence in terms of the behaviors associated with it and then to look at those behaviors on a continuum from OK to Going Too Far. Devotion, care-taking, hard work, serving, and pleasing others can all have a healthy place in our relationships. Our assignments are to be aware of these behaviors, to be aware of any tendencies we may have to lose our self in these behaviors, to learn to intervene on our behalf as we start moving too far down the continuum of a particular behavior, and to then apply our knowledge and skills to find that ever-changing balance point of care of self and others that offers the health we seek.