Knowing about codependents and the different types of codependency can help you understand it better, and if you suspect that you’re one, then you can take the appropriate steps to deal with it.
The following content is derived from “The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap” (2022)
When Your Disorder Is A Joke
“What’s in a name?” Well, Mr. Shakespeare, in the mental health field, quite a bit! Hence, providing hope to legions of people suffering from codependency requires, at the very least, a professional consensus on what it is, diagnostic criteria that establish it, and standardized treatment that specifically connects to both.
Like fake news or soundbites are mistaken for facts, inaccurate mental health terms cause more harm than good. “Codependency” is a prime example of a poorly understood mental health condition. Forty-plus years after it was first coined, it remains the unwieldy multi-headed monster of a disorder that still defies attempts to categorize, name, describe and diagnose it.
Without a consensus on its name, description, and symptoms demonstrating it, we are prolonging suffering and hopelessness for codependents who, in my experience, are suffering more deeply than most can imagine.
Like other mental health terms, codependency has been reshaped to fit its mainstream use. Unfortunately, the original definitions are often diluted over time, especially when they pique the interest of news and media sources.
To the general public, a codependent is a weak, needy, clingy, and even emotionally sick person who often lacks common sense and sometimes intelligence.
There is little consensus in the mental health field for what it is; the people who profess to specialize in it have little direction and experience in solving a problem about which they claim to know a lot. To that end, codependency treatment is driven by a loose association of psychotherapy techniques that represent the clinician’s personal experiences than their history of providing successful treatment outcomes.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon the mental health field to admit its failings while considering revamping the cartoon-like depiction of what is a debilitating mental health disorder.
Perhaps the “cherry” on top of this not-so delicious “codependency sundae” is that many people in the helping professions begin their careers as untreated codependents. Many of them live knee-deep in their own personal and relational dysfunction, then it is time to tell “Houston” that “we have a serious problem.”
Out With The Old And In With The New
Codependency is a pathological mental health condition that manifests in individuals (codependents) who are predictably and reflexively attracted to harmful, selfish, and self-absorbed Pathological Narcissists.
The powerful and difficult to resist opposite attraction dynamic illustrated in my “Human Magnet Syndrome” books account for the instant explosion of euphoric “chemistry” between “caregiving” codependents and “care-taking” Pathological Narcissists.
Codependency is not just limited to romantic couplings, as it manifests itself in varying degrees in most other significant relationships.
Predictably and reflexively, codependents repeatedly find themselves in dysfunctional relationships with Pathological Narcissists. They give most, if not all, of the love, respect, caring, and trust (LRCT), hoping someone will willingly reciprocate it.
Unfortunately, by virtue of narcissists’ Personality Disorder, most are not interested, nor willing, and to some degree, unable to participate in a relationship based on the mutual distribution of love, respect, caring, and trust (LRCT).
An exception is when the narcissist gains something or has a relationship advantage by pretending to be mutually expressing LRCT.
Codependents mistakenly believe the only solution to the LRCT inequality dilemma is to double down and try harder to “fix” the wayward narcissist, or worst, fall victim to a form of emotional dissociation, where the pain of caring is effectively anesthetized.
The prospect of being painfully alone fueled their lifelong delusion that with time, patience, and sacrifice, the narcissist lover will willingly correct their errant ways, sincerely apologize for them, willingly change them, and, as a result, recreate the long-lost soulmate bliss.
Codependents are reluctant to terminate the relationship because of the very real fear of Pathological Loneliness, Codependency Addiction’s most intolerable withdrawal symptom.
However, suppose they or their narcissistic partner end the relationship to avoid the reemergence of pathological loneliness. In that case, they will quickly find another source of their “drug of choice” and subsequently rebound into another “soulmate” turned “cellmate.”