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Thursday, December 15, 2011


This picture is a tragic emblem of codependency:

This child did not become obese on his own, but rather it was a cooperative effort with his family.  Why would a parent do this to a child?

Codependence is when one person derives emotional satisfaction from another person's emotional condition.  A codependent lives his life in reference to someone else than God.  It is a form of idolatry.

Therefore, when the subject of the idolatry becomes upset, like a child complaining he wants more food, the codependent 'worshipper' appeases the idol.  So, addicts rage about how they need things, and their codependent followers come up with money and put up with being treated poorly.  The Greeks were treated by their gods the same way (according to their mythology), and now we can see it was not too far from the truth in a psychological sense.

Part of recovery involves the healing not just of the addict but his entourage of codependent followers.  The entire family and community must be healed.  When the addict flies into a rage, others must understand it is the broken mind in need of repair that is speaking.  We ought not react in an unhealthy way.

The first step is to never 'feed the disease.'  The addict relies on others to act out, and these services must end so that the addict can realize the extent of the problem.  Otherwise, he will assume that people give because they want to, or because his accusations against them must be true.  We confirm their false 'reality' when we respond to their demands.

1 comment:

  1. I think the idea that people like/want to be needed plays into co-dependence. I quite surprised someone when I said that I do not want to be needed. Yes, I like to help, but to be needed in a dependent sense, no thank you.

    To me this parallels something we talked about at the seminary about the role of the spiritual father in his relationship with a spiritual child. We talked about that role as being not one in which the spiritual child becomes dependent on the spiritual father, but one where the spiritual father guides the spiritual child towards spiritual maturity - not self-sufficiency, since that is impossible.

    I'm not sure exactly where I am going with this comment and I apologize for that. The parallel above just jumped out at me and made me think a little about the potential similarities between someone helping with addictions and a spiritual father.

    Fr. Peter