Codependence Defined

Codependence is about having a dysfunctional relationship with self!
With our own bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits.
With our own gender and sexuality.
With being human.

Because we have dysfunctional relationships internally  we have dysfunctional relationships externally.

"Actually the term "Codependence" is an inaccurate and somewhat misleading term for the phenomenon it has come to describe. A more accurate term would be something like outer-dependence, or external dependence."

"The point that I am making is that our understanding of Codependence has evolved to realizing that this is not just about some dysfunctional families, our very role models, our prototypes, are dysfunctional. Our traditional cultural concepts of what a man is, of what a woman is, are twisted, distorted, almost comically bloated stereotypes of what masculine and feminine really are."

"Codependence deals with the core issues of the human dilemma. Codependence has grown out of the cause from which all symptoms arise. That cause is Spiritual dis-ease not being at ease, at one with Spiritual Self. Not being able to be in balance, in harmony with the universe. All other diseases - physical, emotional, mental - spring out of, are caused by, Spiritual dis-ease. . . . The human condition is a symptom! Human nature as we understand it is a symptom! The human condition is not a result of flaws in human nature. Both are effects. The condition of Codependence which, as I said could more accurately be described as outer or external dependence is the human condition as we have inherited it!"

A Definition of Codependence Codependence is a primary, progressive, chronic, fatal, and treatable disease which is caused by being raised in an emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environment. The primary environment is the family system which is part of the larger emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional society which is part of a civilization that is based on false beliefs about the nature and purpose of being human.


continue story below

Codependence is characterized by dependence on outer or external sources for self-worth and self-definition.   This outer or external dependence, combined with unhealed childhood emotional wounds which get reactivated/gouged whenever an emotional "button" is pushed, cause the Codependent to live life in reaction to, give power over self-esteem to, outside sources.

"Traditionally in this society women were taught to be codependent on - that is take their self-definition and self-worth from - their relationships with men, while men have been taught to be codependent on their success/career/work. That has changed somewhat in the past twenty or thirty years but is still part of the reason that women have more of a tendency to sell their souls for relationships than men do. Codependence is all about giving outside or external influences power over our self-esteem. Everything outside of our 'self'- rather that is people, places and things or our own external appearance has to do with ego-strength not self-worth. We all have equal Divine worth because we are transcendent Spiritual beings who are part of the ONENESS that is the Great Spirit/God-Force - not because of anything outside of us."

From the Column "Relationships & Valentines Day" by Robert Burney

"Codependence and interdependence are two very different dynamics. Codependence is about giving away power over our self-esteem. Takingour self-definition and self-worth from outside or external sources is dysfunctional because it causes us to give power over how we feel about ourselves to people and forces which we cannot control. Any time that we give power over our self-esteem to something outside of ourselves we are making that person or thing our higher power. We are worshiping false gods. If my self-esteem is based on people, places, and things; money, property, and prestige; looks, talent, intelligence; then I am set up to be a victim. People will not always do what I want them too; property can be destroyed by an earthquake or flood or fire; money can disappear in a stock market crash or bad investment; looks change as I get older. Everything changes. All outside or external conditions are temporary."

From the Column "Codependence vs. Interdependence" by Robert Burney

"This dance of Codependence is a dance of dysfunctional relationships - of relationships that do not work to meet our needs. That does not mean just romantic relationships, or family relationships, or even human relationships in general. The fact that dysfunction exists in our romantic, family, and human relationships is a symptom of the dysfunction that exists in our relationship with life, with being human. It is a symptom of the dysfunction which exists in our relationships with ourselves as human beings."

"The dance that we learn as children - the repression and distortion of our emotional process in reaction to the attitudes and behavior patterns we adopt to survive in an emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment - is the dance we keep dancing as adults. We are driven by repressed emotional energy. We live life in reaction to childhood emotional wounds. We keep trying to get the healthy attention and affection, the healthy love and nurturing, the being-enhancing validation and respect and affirmation, that we did not get as children. This dysfunctional dance is Codependence. It is Adult Child Syndrome. It is the tune that humans have been dancing to for thousands of years. Vicious, self-perpetuating cycles of self-destructive behavior."

"The way the emotional defense system that is Codependence works is that we continue to repeat our patterns in order to reinforce the belief that it is not safe to trust. Not safe to trust ourselves or this process we call life. Codependence does this to protect us. Because it was not safe for us to trust our own feelings, senses, and perceptions as children our egos decided that it is never safe to trust. Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child. Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met - our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs. Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside. Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves. . . . The battle cry of Codependence is 'I'll show you - I'll get me.'"

"Due to the planetary conditions, the human ego developed a belief in separation - which is what made violence possible and caused the human condition as we inherited it. The reflection of that human condition on the individual level is the disease of Codependence. Codependence is caused by the ego being traumatized and programmed in early childhood so that our relationship with ourselves and the God-Force is dysfunctional - that is, it does not work to help us access the Truth of ONENESS and Love. It is through healing our relationship with ourselves that we open our inner channel and start tuning into the Truth."

From the column "Christ Consciousness" by Robert Burney

next: Codependence vs. Interdependence

Last Updated: 07 August 2014

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

Related Articles

Follow Us

Mental Health Newsletter