Codependency, what is it???

I’m teaching a codependency class right now, and just started researching information on it.   Without any specific curriculum to go by, I’ve decided to start with a basic definition of the concept as a starting point.  I found a book by Melodie Beattie as a guide.   In her book she starts out with the following definition:

“Codependency is a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members to survive in families experiencing great emotional pain and stress…behaviors passed from generation to generation….Codependency is about the ways we have been affected by our pasts. (Beattie, 2009).

Characteristics of Codependency

So with this definition in mind, how can one know if they have codependent relationship traits?  Melodie Beattie (2009) describes a codependent person as follows:  “A codependent person [allows] someone else’s behavior to affect him or her, and is obsessed with controlling other people’s behaviors.”  Based on this definition, I’m reminded of Shel Silverstein’s book, “The Missing Piece”.  Individuals in this case, would be seeking others as a solution for what is missing within….

Recovering from Codependency

Recovery, like healing and growth, are a gradual process, often much like watching a pot of water boil. “We stop reacting to the powerfully dysfunctional systems so many of us have been affected by. We stop getting tangled up in craziness. We acquire the art of removing ourselves as victims.” (Beattie, 2009).

  1. Instead of controlling others, we detach & begin to let go.

  2. Instead of allowing others to hurt us, we develop healthy boundaries

  3. Clarity and problem-solving skills replace hyper-vigilant worry, and denial.


Beattie, M. (2009). Beyond codependency: And getting better all the time. Hazelden Publishing.

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