Codependency In A Nutshell
Published: March 18, 2022
By Marty Lythgoe LAADC-CA, NCAC II, SAP

Co-dependency is a disease of immaturity caused by childhood trauma. 


Co-dependency is a disease of immaturity caused by childhood trauma.  How many people do you know who seem to spend most of their time operating out of an emotional self that seems to be about 15 years old? Codependents are immature or childish to such a degree that it hampers their life over-and-over again. It must be said that you don’t have to be from an overtly abusive family to have been traumatized — the main requirement is that you took on SHAME at one point that caused you to have the fundamental core belief that, “There is something wrong with me, or I’m defective.” Once a person concludes that they are defective they change themselves to compensate for the issues they feel that they have. Therein lies codependency.

A person becomes “developmentally immature,” or codependent, the moment they lose themselves in childhood and morph into some sort of false self, such as a pleaser, rebel, perfectionist, bully, controller, clown, or any sort of personality that is not the real, authentic self.

Here are the primary symptoms of codependency:

  1. Difficulty experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem – meaning difficulty loving oneself.
  2. Difficulty setting functional boundaries with other people – difficulty protecting the self.
  3. Difficulty owning one’s own reality appropriately – difficulty identifying who one is and knowing how to share that appropriately with others.
  4. Difficulty addressing interdependently one’s adult needs and wants – difficulty with self-care.
  5. Difficulty experiencing and expressing one’s reality in moderation (are you controlling or out-of-control?) – difficulty being appropriate for one’s age and various circumstances.

Secondary Symptoms Of Codependency

In addition to these, there are also five secondary symptoms of inaccurate thinking that reflect how codependents think other people’s behavior is the reason they are unable to be healthy in relationships. All the five symptoms come from the core problem, which is the bruised relationship with the self.

They are:

  1. Negative Control. Codependents try to control others by telling them who they ought to be or allow others to control them by telling them who they should be.
  2. Codependents use resentment as a futile way to try to protect themselves and regain self-esteem. This anger makes a codependent feel better about him or herself, but the real problem is blaming others for their own inability to protect themselves with healthy boundaries.
  3. Impaired spirituality. Codependents either make someone else their higher power through hate, fear, or worship, OR they attempt to be another’s higher power.
  4. Addictions or Mental or Physical Illness. The use of outside relationships (in love addiction) or illnesses to soothe the internal pain by giving unconditional love and attention to someone or something else.
  5. Difficulty with Intimacy. Intimacy involves sharing one’s own reality and receiving the reality of others without either party judging that reality or trying to change it. Codependents have difficulty identifying who they are, so cannot share intimately this reality.

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