Oct 25, 2018

Codependency Harms

History of Codependency

The term codependency (or co-addict) was a word made up by a bunch of addicts from Alcoholics Anonymous, founded in 1935, and was then used by Al-Anon (Sister of AA) when it was formed in 1951. The word later became widely popular by therapists and also authors like Melody Beattie in the 1980's. Addicts basically believed their loved ones were acting just as crazy as an addict by displaying similar behaviors (what they considered to be obsession, controlling, neediness, paranoia, ritualizing etc.) and so they assumed their loved ones must be "addicted" to the addict, therefore needing the exact same 12 steps as the addict (same wording and everything). This is why Al-Anon and S-anon and COSA etc. were created, to help treat all the obsessed dysfunctional family members of addicts --- also so they'd no longer hinder the addicts recovery. These 12 step manuals subtly teach family members the belief that they have just as many issues and are as diseased as the addict 😢

However, over the years more therapists have come to realize that family members of addicts WEREN'T actually exhibiting addict or diseased behaviors, but were instead experiencing trauma/PTSD, just like a rape victim or war veteran. Family members didn't have a disease, they were simply INJURED --- the cause is external and not a direct result of one's internal issues. 

The codependency label is not only an incorrect label to automatically apply to betrayed victims of sex addict abusers, but has the possibility of being very dangerous because it places undue blame on wives for their completely natural reactions to being injured by their husband's choices. Most behaviors thought of as codependency (hypervigilance/ obsession, worrying about what a spouse thinks, lack of boundaries, being controlled by an addict, "loving" the addict more than they love you, etc.) are instead natural NORMAL symptoms of a trauma injury, much like screaming out in pain or being full of fear after being run over by a semi truck, and they are NOT because wives are doing something "wrong". We wouldn't tell someone who was just run over by a semi truck that their natural reaction to pain means there's something inherently wrong with them, would we? 💗 

Top 4 Myths of The Codependency Model 

Myth #1 Wives Allow Their Husband's To Mistreat Them (Ie. Wives are partly to blame for doing nothing to stop it)

Codependency blames victims of trauma

Did any of us really ALLOW our husbands to do this to us? I often see innocent victims use language like "allow" or "permission" and it got me thinking. 

Honestly, I had to look up the definition of Allow just in case 😊

      "Give (someone) permission to do something."

      "Consent ; Authorization" 

      "Compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another specifically: the voluntary agreement or acquiescence by a person of age or with requisite mental capacity who is not under duress or coercion and usually who has knowledge or understanding" 

I find it interesting that under consent it states "who is not under duress or coercion". So I want to ask again, did any of us really allow or give consent, without coercion, for our husbands to treat us this way? Did we have FULL knowledge and understanding of what our husbands were doing? 

Myth #2 A Wife's Lack Of Boundaries Is Proof She Has Internal Issues

Raise your hand if you grew up mentally prepared to marry someone who would lie, betray and gaslight you? How can a person implement boundaries if they have no idea they married someone who was lying and gaslighting them? Or they've never been taught how? Or were manipulated and gaslit into believing they were crazy and didn't have the power to? So many addicts/abusers tend to SUBTLY convince their wives that they are the ones who did something wrong or it's their fault. It's the frog in the pot analogy (the one about how to boil a frog, ie. You have to put it in cold water first so it doesn't jump out, and slowly turn up the heat so it doesn't notice etc.). 

Being abused and gaslighted is like being a frog in boiling water
Many women have no idea they are slowly being boiled alive. They might feel something is wrong, but again, without any evidence and after being gaslit, women tend to wonder if they are the ones that are crazy and they just need to "do better". But once they DO find out the truth they're being boiled alive, they are so exhausted (oh my goodness DEBILITATINGLY EXHAUSTED) and still so confused that the man they trusted the most could do such things, that many times they have a hard time "jumping out". ESPECIALLY if they have never learned "how to jump out". (And sometimes it's just not safe to jump out yet) 

It's like your husband ran you over with that dang semi truck and you're broken all over, and then someone tells you that you now have to climb Mt Everest, even though you feel like you're dying and can't walk anymore and you've never even been on a stinkin mountain in the first place let alone climbed one. 

Learning boundaries and how to stand up for ourselves is a process, and just because it takes us a while to stand up and climb the mountain because, again, WE'VE NEVER CLIMBED AND OUR LEGS ARE BROKEN, can we really say a wife consented to the continuing abuse just because she's exhausted from getting run over and can't walk yet? Or is in the process of learning how to walk/climb? Because I'm pretty darn sure 99.9% of wives would have walked away in disgust had their husbands treated them so badly or had known about all their husband's lies the first day they met them, which shows that if a wife has a hard time setting boundaries it's more a direct result of the craftiness and subtleness of ABUSE, not because shes consenting to it. Consent requires knowledge and understanding, without being under coercion or duress 💗

Myth #3 "Most couples match each other's codependency in a relationship, that's why they get together, they are equally as unhealthy" - Brannon Patrick, podcast by The Addicted, The Betrayed, The Expert. 
Buddy elf screaming no. Blaming victims of abuse is wrong

This is such a dangerous belief to automatically apply to most couples and points to a clear lack of understanding of PTSD. Most wives are NOT equally as unhealthy as their addict husbands. To imply that a wife must've been as unhealthy as an addict who gaslights, abuses, exploits, and continuously lies simply because she married him only puts undue blame on a wife and risks further traumatization. Again, most wives wouldn't have married their husband's had they known they'd be treated so poorly, and most wives definitely did not subconsciously want someone who would mistreat them. When you combine 70-80% of men now days looking at pornography, along with an addicts ability to deceive and gaslight, the odds are simply against all women. ALL women. 

Read this, I explain more on this concept here: Is There Something Wrong With Me That Attracts Abusers?

Myth #4 The Codependency Model Isn't The Same As It Used To Be. It's Better Now.
Codependency doesnt fit just like a square peg in a round hole doesnt fit.

Nowadays many people/therapists have sugar-coated the term codependency (or made up their own definitions) to make it seem like it's just a mild negative behavior that describes just about anybody, but sadly regardless of how definitions change, the pathological treatment and foundation for codependency has largely remained the same. Ie. Codependency is a disease. Your own personal issues/addiction/disease to the addict/person is causing your symptoms, and you need to stop allowing it to happen to you, etc. I'm not saying the codependency model has never helped anyone in any way. It definitely has, and for many years it was the only available help to many women. I've just personally noticed that when it comes to betrayed victims of sex addict abusers, the codependency model makes them feel greatly empowered at first but leads them to have slower healing later on because it keeps them focused on the incorrect blame placed on them and what they could have done to prevent the abuse. It also can shame women out of "snooping" or putting up strong boundaries surrounding filters/monitors on internet devices and teaches a "mind your own business/Dont focus on him" attitude, further putting a wife and children in danger. 

Codependency is simply outdated and shouldn't be be applied to betrayed victims of sex addict abusers. They are in trauma due to abuse, and trauma victims and addict abusers require different treatments. No point in trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, ain't nobody got time fo' that 💗
Codependency is like a square peg in a round hole. It blames victims.

A Needed Change

I Am Not A Co-Addict (Codependent) and Neither Are You

- "Wife of Alcoholic : Sexist Stereotypes" PDF by Decker, Redhorse, Green & Starrett. Excellent research paper 👏👏👏😍!!!! This paper gives MANY examples from several researchers of sexism and mysogyny surrounding the victim blaming of wives of alcoholics, including the label of co-alcoholism (codependency, co-addiction, and co-alcoholism all come from the same place). It's absolutely amazing that this was written in 1983, considering many therapists/researchers today still can't grasp these basic concepts. It's comforting to know that there WERE researchers back then who opposed codependency and victim blaming. Sadly their voices were drowned out and not remembered, since it wasn't the "popular" opinion 😢


- Excellent paper by Greg Dear called Blaming the Victim: Domestic Violence and the Codependency Model (PDF) 


If that link doesn't work, try this one https://acrobat.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:df99cd77-95ee-3e96-a519-b820b49d6f1a

- Co-dependency: Implications for Women and Therapy by VanWormer 


PDF download of the same paper by VanWormer:


- Here's another example of the frame of mind these men had of women back then. This is written to the wives of alcoholics, by AA founder Bill Wilson, but he's PRETENDING TO WRITE IT AS A WIFE 🤮 Bill felt that dealing with the addiction was a wife's "burden to bear", and despite alll the obvious abuse, she must never condemn her husband or show anger. Ew. 

A few tidbits of "To the Wives" (that is still in publication today) :

"There was never financial security..... 

Sometimes there were other women. How heart-breaking was this discovery; how cruel to be told they understood our men as we did not!.... 

The bill collectors, the sheriffs, the angry taxi drivers, the policemen, the bums, the pals, and even the ladies they sometimes brought home—our hus-bands thought we were so inhospitable. “Joykiller, nag, wet blanket”—that’s what they said.....

..We have told small tots that father was sick, unreasonable person. Treat him, when you can, as though he had pneumonia. When he angers you, remember that he is very ill.... 

The first principle of success is that you should never be angry. Even though your husband becomes unbearable and you have to leave him temporarily, you should, if you can, go without rancor. Patience and good temper are most necessary. Our next thought is that you should never tell him what he must do about his drinking. If he gets the idea that you are a nag or a killjoy, your chance of accomplishing anything useful may be zero. He will use that as an excuse to drink more. He will tell you he is misunderstood. This may lead to lonely evenings for you. He may seek someone else to console him— not always another man.... 

Next time you and he have a heated discussion, no matter what the subject, it should be the privilege of either to smile and say, “This is getting serious. I’m sorry I got disturbed. Let’s talk about it later.”...."

Alcoholics Anonymous : To Wives (PDF) 


- Interesting article about how it's a myth that adult children of alcoholics display a similar profile of symptoms, or are syndromed. Hopefully this screenshot is clear. If not then search within the document for the word codependent. :


- William White gives a brief chronology of Al-Anon. In it you can see a few examples of the progression of the victim blaming that later formed Al-Anon 🤮