Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Blaming the Targets - The Myth of Co-Dependency
The term "co-dependency" is a controversial one. It first came into widespread use during the 1970's. I've never really understood quite what this label means. What I can glean is that it's often used to describe a caring person who puts others first. There is nothing wrong with doing that, to a point. Those of us with Christian backgrounds have been raised to serve others and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are taught to bear with one another and to forgive.
It's important to remember that narcissists take advantage of people who like to help others, and of those who like to ease people's burden's, rather than add to them. We all have difficulties in our lives. Everyone you meet is fighting one type of battle or another. The problems that many people face seem almost insurmountable these days.
Being kind and generous is not a fault. Many targets possess these qualities. It's troubling to read material online that seems to imply the targets are the ones with the problem. The truth of the matter is that we now have a lot of malignant narcissists walking among us. (One estimate puts this figure at 1 out of every 25 people.) These folks are clever and sneaky, in ways the rest of us cannot even dream of being. So we shouldn't feel too bad when we get taken in by one of these charlatans. Even the professionals can be fooled by high-functioning covert narcissists.
That's why I don't like the term "co-dependency." It implies that the target, and not the abuser, is really at fault. Such terminology takes the issue of accountability off of the abuser and further victimizes the target.
However, as we recover from abuse, it doesn't hurt us to take a look at our weak spots, in order to firm them up a bit. This will, hopefully, prevent us from falling into another relationship with a malignant narcissist/sociopath. Learning as much as you can about this disorder is the best way to protect yourself.
We should embrace our kindness and not feel guilty because extend ourselves to others. So many people right now need a kind word or gesture.
Flickr photo by alexisnyal