Codependent Personality Definition Essay

We all come into this imperfect world, in imperfect families, as imperfect versions of ourselves. Not one of us is without a story or two about family dysfunction, economic hardships, medical limitations, self-esteem challenges and more. Through conscious choices, personal commitment and hard work, we all can experience the world as fully competent, secure, loving and loved individuals. With a fervent belief in ourselves and a commitment to becoming the very best version of ourselves, we can achieve our God-given right to experience joy and healthy love. Taking good care of yourself, healing your emotional wounds, and unconditionally loving yourself, will bring you closer to your dreams. My very favorite quote by George Eliot exemplifies the malleable and indomitable nature of the human psyche/human spirit: "It's never too late to be who you might have been."

As a survivor of some rather challenging relationships with emotional manipulators, I must say to the codependent readers there is most definitely hope for healthy love! I am living proof that if you make a commitment to a healing and transformational process, it is possible to squelch, if not completely stop, the dysfunctional voices that our emotional manipulator parents instilled in our minds. We all have the power to terminate the commanding unconscious force that compels us to replicate our childhood trauma through our choices of dysfunctional adult romantic partners. With the help of loved ones and qualified professional services, it is possible to heal those childhood wounds that have unconsciously directed you to "dance" with the same dysfunctional partner over and over again. (1)

I challenge the readers of my book to courageously commit to never giving up on yourselves -- to never again feel powerless in a relationship that is harmful to you. The choice to change, to release yourself from the shackles of your dysfunctional past and to stop your propensity to fall in love with an emotional manipulator might be the biggest and most important change that you will ever make in your life. Stopping your own personal insanity will take perseverance and courage. It will require dedication, diligence, endurance, patience and probably a stint or two of psychotherapy.

I am sharing the following poem because a long time ago, during a low point in my life, it inspired me to continue my own personal therapeutic work. It spoke to that part of my heart that yearned for true love, but was trapped by mysterious formidable and unconscious forces. David Whyte's poem, "The True Love," encouraged me to stay true to my pledge to heal and to never lose hope for "true love." His poem was the beacon of light that, in my personal darkness, kept me focused on my pursuit of love for myself and, ultimately, for a lover who would share the wondrous experience of true and healthy love with me.

The True Love
David Whyte

There's a faith in loving fiercely the one who is rightfully yours
especially if you have waited years and especially if part of you never
believed you could deserve this loved and beckoning hand held
out to you this way.

I am thinking of faith now and the testaments of loneliness
and what we feel we are worthy of in this world.
Years ago in the Hebrides I remember an old man
who would walk every morning on the gray stones
to the shore of baying seals, who would press his
hat to his chest in the blustering salt wind and say his
prayer to the turbulent Jesus hidden in the waters.

And I think of the story of the storm and the people
waking and seeing the distant, yet familiar figure,
far across the water calling to them.
And how we are all preparing for that abrupt waking
and that calling and that moment when we have to say yes!
Except it will not come so grandly, so biblically,
but more subtly, and intimately in the face
of the one you know you have to love.
So that when we finally step out of the boat
toward them we find, everything holds us,
and everything confirms our courage.

And if you wanted to drown, you could,
but you don't, because finally, after all
this struggle and all these years,
you don't want to anymore.
You've simply had enough of drowning
and you want to live, and you want to love.
And you'll walk across any territory,
and any darkness, however fluid,
and however dangerous to take the one
hand and the one life, you know belongs in yours.

David Whyte from The House of Belonging and River Flow (1996); Permission to reprint given by David Whyte & Many Rivers Company

Along the way, you are likely to make a mistake or two. Do not let the pain of these mistakes throw you off course. More importantly, don't second guess your commitment to yourself. There will be a payoff -- I promise! In time, you will realize that you are now healthy, confident and strong enough to choose a romantic partner who is first and foremost a friend and who loves, cares and respects you for who you are, not just what you can do for him or her. You also will find that your improved "relationship picker" will help you get to the point in which you are ready "to take the one hand and the one life, you know belongs in yours." Your improved psychological health will change the "polarity" of your human magnet. (2) You will start to naturally repel narcissists while finding yourself irresistibly attracted to a person with whom you share deep feelings of love, respect and caring. Better yet, a person who wants to love, respect, and care for you will be attracted to you!

Go to the mirror now, and look yourself in the eye. There is a child inside of you, the child you used to be. He or she is you -- a frightened child who is frozen in time because of harm suffered and endured at a young age. You know you desperately want to be released from the shackles of self-doubt, self-loathing and fear. You, and only you, can make the determination to walk down a new path in life that will certainly bring you to happiness, serenity and improved self-esteem. The decision is yours: Live with limited risk but perpetual relational dysfunction, or risk everything and choose to begin the personal/emotional work that will bring you to healthy and satisfying mutual love -- true love. Make the right choice.

1. Ross Rosenberg's Essay: Codependency, Don't Dance (2013).
2. Explained in Ross Rosenberg's Book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love Love People Who Hurt Us (2013)

For more by Ross A. Rosenberg, click here.

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During their lives, individuals follow several important concepts that play a significant role in their existence. Among the most common of them, success, well-being, and faith are prime examples. Another and perhaps one of the most ancient concepts is love. This word is one of the most widely-used in the world, although there are many sound reasons for the substitution of this concept when speaking of it. What is most confusing is the notion of “codependency,” which brings, in contradistinction to “love,” a harmful and morbid experience.

According to Merriam-Webster online, codependency is a psychological condition or relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is afflicted by a pathological condition. defines codependency as a relationship in which one person is physically or psychologically addicted, for example, to alcohol or gambling. In addition, offers the definition of codependency as an excessive, emotional, or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one with an illness, or addiction, who requires support.

These are the most common interpretations of codependency. As it can be observed, all of them contain several keywords: relationship, partner, dependence, addiction, or pathology, and characterize this state as “unhealthy.” At the same time, many psychologists claim that codependency is not just about being in a relationship with a person having an addiction, or who is mentally challenged. Research indicates that it is a state that is commonly mistaken for love and is typical in most relationships. Thus, 98% of grown-up Americans who are married or are in a romantic relationship are considered to be codependent (Weinhold 46). Actually, it does not matter whether one of the partners has a certain obsession, as codependency develops even between people who are free from bad habits.

Codependency can be defined as a psychological state involving a heavy emotional reliance on a partner, characterized by excessive caring, a constant search of their acceptance and approval, and by painful experiences as a consequence. Among the latter, one can point to excessive and unjustified jealousy, repressed anger, unspoken resentment, and the feeling of abandonment. Codependency is considered to be the same kind of addiction as alcoholism and narcomania—the difference being that the object of the unwholesome passion is directed to another person. Codependent people often forget about their needs, interests and goals, sacrificing it all for the benefit of the partner they “love.” Stated succinctly, codependents make the relationship more important than themselves. For classic examples of this disease, one needs to look no further than Romeo and Juliette, Othello and Desdemona—or from the more recent past, Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, as much less romantic, but still a codependent relationship.

Codependency, which is sometimes called neurotic affection, is supported by a number of extremely powerful and enduring myths, which are taken for granted by the majority of people. For example, one of the most widespread myths is that partners should always endorse each other. Another typical myth is the dream about a perfect partner. One more myth prescribes that partners satisfy each other’s needs and match all interests in all spheres of life (Weinhold 422). These and many other myths are supported by mass culture: popular songs, movies, books, and other media promote this kind of relationship. The same mistake was constantly made during previous centuries and perhaps only religious and philosophical movements, such as Christianity, or Buddhism, had taught people true love.

It can be seen that codependency is a phenomenon that is often confused with love, due to the prevalence of numerous uncritically-perceived myths supported by modern and ancient cultures. 98% of Americans presumably are in codependent relationships. This is the unhealthy psychological state of excessive, emotional reliance on a partner, which is characterized by an obsession to control and take care of one’s partner, and by a constant search for that partner’s approval. This state is accompanied by various painful experiences, such as excessive jealousy, a feeling of abandonment, repressed anger, insults, and a constant craving for being needed and recognized. Codependency can be successfully cured without breaking relationships, but it is important for patients to realize their problem and to want to get out of it.


Weinfold, Niva. Codependency as Normalcy. New York: Pasta Press, 2009. Print.

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