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I had to share this...it was such an eye opener!
June 18, 2008
5:06 am
New Member
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
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Good thing too....as it is 4:57 am. My brain is full, and I can't sleep. I feel like a sponge....just digesting all of this information...and seeing myself so clearly.I feel like a bird that feels the wind beneath them for the first time. Thank you for being so understanding of my naive-ness.
Here is the info...

"Characteristics of Co-dependents: Modified from Schaef (1986)"

"1. External referencing: distrusting own perceptions, lacking
boundaries, believing one cannot survive without a
relationship/addicted to relationships, fearing abandonment,
believing in the perfect union.

2. Caretaking: become indispensable, become a martyr

3. Self-centeredness: personalizing all events, assuming
responsibility for other's behavior.

4. Over-controlling: increasing control efforts when chaos
increases, attempting to control everything and everyone,
controlling without caring for those controlled, believing
that with more effort you can fix the addict/family.

5. Feelings: unaware of feelings, distorting emotional
experiences/accepting only acceptable feelings, fearfulness.

6. Dishonesty: managing all impressions made, omitting/lying about
the truth, rigidity.

7. Gullibility: being a bad judge of character, unwillingness to
confront, over-trusting, accepting what fits the way on wishes
the way things were.

Lay symptoms of Co-dependence

Changing who you are to please others
Feeling responsible for meeting other people's needs at the
expense of your own
Low self-esteem
Driven by compulsions

Diagnostic Criteria

a) Continued investment of self-esteem in the ability to
influence/control feelings and behavior, both in oneself
and in others, in the face of serious adverse consequences.

b) Assumption of responsibility for meeting other's needs, to
the exclusion of acknowledging one's needs.

c) Anxiety and boundary distortions around intimacy and separation.

d) Enmeshment in relationships with personality-disordered,
chemically dependent, and impulse-disordered individuals.

e) Exhibits at least three of the following:

1. Excessive reliance on denial
2. Constriction of emotions (with or without dramatic outbursts)
3. Depression
4. Hypervigilance
5. Compulsions
6. Anxiety
7. Substance Abuse
8. Recurrent victim of physical or sexual abuse
9. Stress-related medical illness
10. Has remained in a primary relationship with an active
abuser for at least two years without seeking outside

Co-dependent personality


Unassertive, does not pursue own rights, adapts rather than
changing a bad situation
Submission to others for predictability/security, self-
Oversensitive to others' difficulties
Puts up a front, hides "true self"
Withdraws, isolates, loneliness

Roles Adopted:


protecting/covering for the addicted person by
making excuses absences or social mistakes

Care Taker:

minimizes negative consequences in addicted
person's chemical dependency


rationalizing or participating/assisting in
addicted person's chemical dependency


protecting the family's public image/draw
attention away from the addiction with enormous/
"superhuman"/self-sacrificing efforts


avoiding discussion of the addiction in hopes
it will disappear, hiding concern and confusion
with apathy


Extreme family loyalty
Family rules: "Don't talk, don't trust, don't feel"
Distorted family image: happy, no problems, see only the good
Over-developed sense of responsibility and concern for others
Control is valued, lack of control is terrifying, order,
stability, routine, regularity, peace, not chaos
Only superficial relationships, no intimate ones as equality/
equivalence is required for justice


Excessive caretaking/dependency especially when stressed,
undeserved loyalty
Over-responsible/over-reliable (to compensate for the addict's
irresponsibility), anticipate other's needs ("enabling"),
need to control people and situations, rigidity
Denial: ignore/rationalize/minimize problem, denies increased
substance abuse
Loss of daily structure: missing appointments, having meals
at irregular times, not getting to bed or up on time
Fails to complete tasks, follow through, make plans, easily
overwhelmed with tasks, reactive not proactive
Crisis orientation not long term, good in crisis situation/
beginnings and endings but not in middles


Low self-esteem: self blame for any problem/other's substance
use, guilt-prone, shame and guilt, "I'm bad/no good",
extreme/unproductive self criticism/flagellation, assumption of
blame due to inconsistency of parental behavior
Insecurity, low self-esteem, fear/belief in one's unloveability/
insanity/badness/dirtiness, Powerlessness
Shame at addiction, secretive, very reluctant to ask for help
Acts in a way they believe normal, doesn't know what is
normal behavior, emotional responses
Anxious over not feeling/acting sufficiently "normal", feel
different from anyone else you know
Adopts extreme role models and standards which would be
acceptable to a group with low self-esteem


Depression, negativity, uncontrollable mood swings, no fun in life,
dulled feeling, alexethymia, anhedonia, or enjoy only when at
someone else's expense, seriousness life as series of problems
and crises to be solved, tasks to be done, worry is normal,
frequent resentments and anger, "Got a raw deal".


Obsessive thinking, overreliance on analytical thinking,
Delusions/Irrational beliefs: Amor omnia vincit
(or at least substance abuse)
Dishonest, lies, denial, unaware of dishonesty (behavior)
is not the "real person"
Low memory of childhood


Physical, sexual, psychological abuse and neglect
"addictive" behavior: eating disorders, substance abuse,
obsessive-compulsive disorder
Acting out for attention or approval


Health problems: stress related disorders, lack of personal care
Became addicted to cope with frustration and pain
Neglected attention in childhood, "stroke starved", leads to
denial of own needs

June 18, 2008
5:40 am
New Member
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
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ps...since i have tortured all of you enough with my thoughts...i am going to sit back and listen for a while. I don't want to impede someone else's progress if I am not where they are in recovery (i.e. a newbie...that's me). I have so much to learn...and it has been such a blessing to be able to talk. You made me feel valued. Now I am going to shut the heck up....I have typed so much...I have been a thread hog. I'm sorry for that. I think that I have vented my spleen enough now. Thank all of you really wonderful people.

June 18, 2008
6:16 am
New Member
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 24, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Thanks Marty:

This is helpful.

Don't stop writing. Your discoveries help and support others too.

Moon & Stars

June 18, 2008
6:31 am
New Member
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
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I will...just not as madly as I have done in the last couple of days....I have to control that advice thing. 🙂

I need to listen. Really!

Thank you!

June 18, 2008
11:10 pm
Tiger Trainer
Forum Posts: 5
Member Since:
September 27, 2010
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every time i see lists like this I cringe because that is me. For so long I thought I was being so good and helpful while reality I was co dependent and I wasn't doing anyone any good.

June 18, 2008
11:20 pm
New Member
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
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thank you ((marty)) I am fairly new at the recovery thing too that doesn't mean I don't give advice it's much easier to give advice from the outside you can see what makes sense lol;-)! Keep posting and thanks again loved the list:0)!

June 19, 2008
1:39 am
Forum Posts: 8
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Martyn- Thank you for taking the time to type all this good info.

June 19, 2008
10:43 am
New Member
Forum Posts: -1
Member Since:
September 30, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

I am sort of glad that I put it here...I have been re reading it...everytime I I do reread it...I find out something new about myself. I guess that it is a daily growth thing. I am glad that you could use the information....I am a research junkie.....I love to learn and sort out the whys and wherefors....I guess that gives me a sense of empowerment.

June 24, 2008
11:51 am
Los Angeles, California
Forum Posts: 104
Member Since:
September 29, 2010
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Thanks Martyn for writing this list. I went to print it and my printer was out of ink! So now I'm going to bump it until I can get to the store.


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