EARMARKS OF DYSFUNCTION
“You can’t do the healing without
the feeling, the leaving without
Much pathology is a pattern of learned response, a reaction to
modeled behavior while living in addictive systems. Some of the
behaviors can be altered simply through insight, education, awareness
and decision. When the behavior is repetitive and not altered, even
after we are aware and decide to change, it falls into the compulsive,
Codependency is made up of several compulsive disorders; it fits
the addiction model and is best treated within that model; it overlaps
and responds to other approaches and treatment modalities. There are
several paths to building self-esteem, identity and boundary sense.
Many of the learned aspects can be unlearned, but the addictive
aspects requires a support system and a treatment process.
PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS, PROBLEMS
We view life as a problem to be solved, becoming addicted to
control. The lack of ego strength, fear of haplessness, fear of
powerlessness and the defensiveness create a need for control. To
maintain control a person must head off each possible uncontrollable
factor at the pass by anticipating, planning strategies, and avoiding.
The hurt adult begins to view each day in terms of the problems to be
solved and the methods a person must maintain to not lose control.
More and more we become problem oriented. We make lists of problems
and check them off.
This problem orientation builds toward many of the phobias and
anxieties that travel with codependency. The more control we need the
more we fear being out of control.
We overreact to anything that may produce a loss of control, -flying,
storms, ski lifts, driving on freeways, shopping in crowds, elevators,
heights and other fears. We fear the panic attack that may happen
when we feel out of control, when we’re in a crowded places or our
feet leave the ground.
We often quit doing the things we enjoy because they look too hard.
Physical challenges are avoided. When traveling we expect to be
pampered, taken care of and get impatient and controlling with the
people we meet. Flight delays, hotel mix ups are an affront to us.
We no longer notice people and places. We live for the next foul-up,
the next problem, the next place to attack. We may act positively and
friendly but the steam inside builds up. If our lives are a problem
to be solved, we can no longer see that life is a mystery to be
embraced, a process to be enjoyed.
We lose a sense of time, of the preciousness of the moment and
a connectedness with others. We perpetuate the myth of our control.
We think that we have control. Our control is an illusion. It’s
insatiable. We are controllers and sometimes the control appears to
be the healthiest part of our life. The irony is that giving up
control and accepting our powerlessness leads us to recovery.
We try to control our feelings, other people, the world. It’s like
a pressure cooker with no release valve. We will and do explode.
Sometimes our addictiveness provides the release–the nicotine, food,
sex, spending, gambling and obsessive relationships. In our attempt
to recover from the addictions, things get worse. New addictions take
place of the old. Our codependent relationships become more and more
troubled. We switch, trade, go back and forth among the many
addictions we have without ever dealing with control.
It’s no coincidence that the first step of AA or any other twelve
step program deals with powerlessness. We keep trying to prove we can
control the compulsions we have, as if that is going to prove we don’t
have a problem. We often can control it or think we are controlling a
compulsion by stopping it temporarily. This is pseudo control since
even if we do end up controlling, it is the difference between
sobriety and serenity. The addiction isn’t really the problem, the
We control the symptoms but ignore the
Taken from “Broken Toys, Broken Dreams” by Terry Kellogg, M.A.