Sunday, March 16, 2008

Does Codependency Therapy Help or Hurt?

It seems to me that the adult children of narcissists who learn of NPD and then go through the natural process of dealing with this stunning revelation fare better than those who get involved in codependency therapy.

You are at first enormously relieved, because your instincts were right and the brainwashing was wrong: it wasn't your fault, and you weren't the defective one. But then come the memories and the pain and all the emotions they generate. You go through them. You gain much understanding.


Yes, you do learn who loves ya and that you must look out for yourself first in life. But you just lost your naivete, that's all. You (correctly) view your abuse as the narcissist exploiting your love and goodwill, which are virtues - not as him or her exploiting what the preachers of codependency regard as a FLAW in you - your vulnerability. (Which is exactly the view the narcissist takes. Hmm.)

If that parent is still alive and plaguing your life, you stop enabling by making changes to distance yourself as much as possible.

Then, six months, a year, or two later, you're beyond it. Because those emotions are spent, and you have put that parent too far away from you to hurt you anymore.

The people who handle it naturally like this have no problem talking about it, either. They will give you frank, straight answers about that parent.

But just listen and compare their voices to the adult children of narcissists in support groups that preach codependency therapy. The latter still seem enslaved to the idea that there is something wrong with them, that they need much improvement and have been struggling at it, some for many years.

They go against nature on everything, as though what a person is naturally inclined to do is always dangerous or something.

So, for example, instead of feeling their feelings, they repress them. Because in that religion, being made to feel bad or angry is a sin: you're supposed to have one emotion = happy, happy, happy. No matter what is done to you - happy, like good people are. (Which is again the view the narcissist takes.)

Years later they are still fighting to conquer those repressed feelings, which they consider a character flaw in themselves. Any little thing that happens calls those painful feelings to consciousness, so that they must be stifled and repressed again.

Again, for example, instead of contemplating their memories in the light of what they now know, and having a good cry, they eschew thinking or talking about it. They think it's a sin to think or talk about what happened to them, so they repress memory too, because just talking about the childhood abuse or that parent is "failing to take responsibility" for your life in that religion.

You must take responsibility for the hurt done to you. Narcissistic abuse hurt you only because you are weak and let it hurt you. You must pump up your self-esteem (which is telling the victim to do exactly what a narcissist does) and just "blow off" abuse and all other unhappy things so that you stop being guilty of ever feeling any negative emotion about anything.

In other words, you must act like it didn't happen. Which is exactly what the narcissist tries to make you do.

Consequently, the adult children of narcissists under codepency therapy act like war veterans who come home and never talk about the harrowing experience. But, unlike war veterans, they won't even talk about it with other war veterans.

And these people constantly have to puff up their self-esteem because every little thing still deflates it. Which is no wonder, because they believe they are flawed for having their feelings.

How is this "casting off victimhood"? It looks to me more like re-vicimization. Is this codependecy therapy not picking up right where the narcissistic parent left off?

Add it up. It sounds like therapists took this therapy for the VICTIM right from mouths of the NARCISSISTS on their couch! For, this is exactly the line the narcissist hands a therapist about his or her blame them.

And notice the wholly negative nature of this "positive" therapy: Rule 1: Don't feel what you feel. Rule 2: Don't remember your past. Bossy, bossy, bossy.

Where is the proof that this therapy is effective? Nowhere. Why? If it really works, why don't the practitioners show us the proof? They offer nothing but the kind of unreliable testimonials you can find posted on a website that sells tablecloths or some other merchandise.

Since codependency therapy is so involved with 12-step programs, here is a well-kept secret about 12-step programs: A scientific review of comparative studies of various 12-step programs show that they are no more effective than any other kind of treatment for alcoholism.

But here's the kicker: no studies have been done to establish whether most of these other treatments are effective at all. That's indefensible. Why are there no such studies? Are the AA and APA afraid of what the results would be?

The existing SCIENTIFIC research allows us to say nothing more than Dr. Edward V. Nunes, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia notes - that certain elements of A.A. are known to be effective:

Some of the wisdom embodied in A.A., such as the notion of persons, places and things that trigger drinking, are very much a part of cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is a scientifically driven, empirically validated treatment.

Therefore, the other treatment methods and the rest of the 12-step program may be ineffective for all we know. We do know that at least 1 in 5 alcoholics achieves long-term sobriety on their own, with no treatment at all. Do any of these treatments beat that benchmark?

The NYT tries to downplay the facts by suggesting credibility in the whining that this reveiw refused to accept the pseudoscience usually put forth as "proof" of the 12-step program's validity. In other words, they whine that no junk science "data" was allowed in this scientific review. Specifically, they complained that this scientific reveiew cited only randomized, carefully controlled studies = real science.

Get it? Very funny. Can't the NYT tell a joke when they quote it?

The people who let that stinker have NO CREDIBILITY whatsoever, and the NYT shouldn't lend them the semblance of any. You do nothing but misinform by "balancing" the known truth with a known lie. The NYT is irresponsible for even quoting that crap. The defenders of the 12-step program should have been warned that if they couldn't come up with something credible and legitimate to say, they wouldn't be quoted at all.

Otherwise, from now on the NYT must quote a flat-earther every time to "balance" any source quoted as implying that the earth is a sphere.

And I'm not being facetious. I'd be surprised if there were no legitimate criticism one could make of this scientific review. So, its opponents don't have to try to legitimize the illegitimate...unless that's exactly what their goal is.

They're just trying to discredit real science and pass off their pseudoscience as superior - with nothing but fast-talk to people who don't know enough about science to see how absurd they're being.

Technorati Tags:

Labels: ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


At 9:36 PM, Anonymous LJA said...

Wow. You have very accurately described my own experiences within the system of family and church... and the effects it had on me.

I finally found a friend who was honest. Her honesty helped me see that I needed therapy. The therapist said, in response to my voiced concern about whether I was getting too close to this friend have been invaluable. (Both my mother and church leaders warned us both that we shouldn't 'get too close.') My therapist said, "You and your friend are not codependent, you're interdependent. And that is healthy and normal."

The insanity is that this codependency garbage has reached the level that people are discouraging normal friendships for fear of them becoming 'codependent' relationships. I suspect that to a narcissist, this is like a present on a silver platter, because, after all, that N does not want people getting too close, either. They might compare notes and then the jig would be up.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Lori said...

What codependence therapy or groups have you gone to? None that I've attended focus on repressing your feelings or having to feel happy, happy, happy. Quite the opposite. They focus on feeling your feelings and learning it's okay to be angry. And then, what to do about it.

As the future ex-wife of a narcissist, and a member of a local CoDA group for five years, I've personally experienced all sides of this topic. And I can tell you, I would not have had the self-esteem to leave this man had I not learned what I have in CoDA, and related therapy, over those five years. I know my value, and I know I've lived with someone who didn't. And I know my anger about his behavior is rational and reasonable and justified.

Codependency therapy is not about blaming the victim, but about ending the thought-patterns that make us think we are.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Did you see my post Nonsense Check on Codependence.

I copied that denial of feelings from Daddy at AdultsRecoveringFrom NarcissiticParents at Some of these groups ban you for claiming that feelings aren't right or wrong and that you can't change them and that you shouldn't pretend to.

So, what are you trying to hand me?

As I said, codependency began as a sensible concept of enabling and then ran amuck. You may have had better experiences in the particular therapy you got, and if so, great. But that is the exception rather than the rule today.

I dare you to post your view of feelings in one of those groups and see what happens. (Be ready to duck.)

You can't deny the facts. Check 'em. I've posted plenty of links and documentation. You answered none of it, so that evidence all stands.

And don't take my word about these groups. Read 'em. If you brook at their exhortations to to feel no pain, they ATTACK you as choosing to be a "victim," and smugly ask you when you are going to get tired of being a victim. Which is a bad thing in their eyes.

It's heresy to say anything otherwise and they won't even post any disagreement.

While they preach to control your feelings, they don't control theirs and prove it by really getting riled up over any disagreement with them, however gentle ;)

At 10:50 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

PS, and by the way, I was talking about the adult children of narcissists. Surely you see the vast difference between them and someone who married an N?

At 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Kathy! !!

Both my own experience (for the most part I've been in psychoanalytic therapies for many years) and what I have witnessed, but also what I got to know by reading specialized literature unfortunately has showed me that there are many (not only very few) doubtful, questionable up to dangerous therapists (including doctors, psychoanalysists with specialized educations of many years) irrespective of the kind of therapie or group.

I want to recommend warmly to every victim not to forget that there can be also found abuse and narcissists both among professionals and self-help groups and not so few as assumed ... and therefore please be wary and cautious (and listen to your feelings) ! !!

Wish you the best, Tobi

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also have stopped visiting an internet forum for victims after having witnessed the dominant persons in this group attacking a really very distressed young women in an extraordinary desperate conditon.

They attacked her in a shocking way for complaining but not leaving her boyfriend. I felt staggered and was very worried about the hurting impact to this young lady.


At 3:45 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

According to these folks (who obviously never think outside a very tiny little box and wouldn't notice an absurdity if it slapped them in the face), you mustn't feel what you feel; you mustn't ever remember your past abuse (= you must act like it didn't happen); and you mustn't even care about the N or other addict or other abuser = empathy is bad.

And these airheads are too stoned to realize that this is what they're saying.

Here is another example of the same thing you mention, Toby, from When Caring Becomes a Disease:

"A case from several years ago comes to mind involving a caring mother who's 27-year old daughter had been abusing prescription opioids and benzodiazapines for ten years. The daughter finally made the decision attempt a methadone detox, following two months of methadone maintenance. The MD at the methadone clinic recommended that she taper the benzodiazapine, which wasValium (methadone doesn't cover non-opiate drugs). The mother was very invested in her daughter's change efforts and subsequently flew in from out of state to live with her while she detoxed. She agreed to dole out the Valium because the daughter felt that she could not do it on her own without relapsing. The mother hid them in her car and stood watch over her daughter during the first three weeks of her transition. The patient voiced that her mother's presence was imperative for relapse prevention at this time. The mother voiced that it made her feel as though she was finally doing something to help daughter which was panning out. She felt so good about her efforts that she went to an Al-anon meeting. She was literally attacked by three attendees who deemed her behavior enabling and, in addition to deeming her responsible for her daughter's enduring problems with substances, instructed her to go back to her home immediately and let her daughter grapple with her troubles on her own. One said, "She's an adult, and a time comes when you have to let them leave the nest or you're just perpetuating the illness."

The author also tells how codependency therapists not only blamed a woman for being the victim but also for 75% of of her son's alcohol problem.

Now if that ain't perverted, I don't know what is.

Many of these people are mindless automatons automated by buzzword that push buttons on them -absolutely mindless.

At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About those groups- a few I know are run by proxy ( how interesting, huh) Sam V... Mr.NPD himself.

The moderators are just proxies for Mr. V and his party line...he says we're inverted Ns then we are...

The absurdity of giving him the status of "helper" and calling him Dr. is dishonest to folks out there who have no idea that he really, truly is a malignant narcissist with a degree from an online school, in physics I believe not even psych.

His words ring true re: narcissism, but his stuff about victims I don't even read. What you write Kathy is so true, obvious if you have suffered in these ways, but so contrary to self-help crap that's out there. I remember when I tried to wrap my mind around how, I couldn't be hurt by their cruelty without my consent.

I have ears, eyes... I should have blotted out my senses????

Thanks again Kathy

Anon for this post :)

At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy, you take the words out of my soul !

I always get dismayed and outraged by such perverted approach of people blaming those in need of help never minding when they cause injury.

And as for "caring" and "dependency" there is so much absurdity among therapists and in groups.

One reason may be what you described as "never think outside a very tiny little box" - and that they stop differentiating and critical thinking and no longer see the individual human being.

It just has occured to me that Marie-France Hirigoyen, the French victimologist you once have mentioned, also appeals that therapy by no means may lead to provoke or fortify feelings of guilt by making the victim responsible for being a victim. She has written about this topic in the book "The Masks of Vileness: Everyday Emotional Violence and How You Can Defend Yourself Against It" - (I'm not sure if this is the correct English translation?)


At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not much for the whole support group thing.

Feeling your feelings is a natural, and painful part of the process. With time, much distancing, and contemplation, it is possible to start feeling good about yourself. It is possible to be positive and optimistic about life. It is possible, then, for those groups to turn on you, wanting to drag you back into the pit of despair. I'm no Pollyanna, but one can only suffer for so long. Then, it's time to live.

So I get a failing grade from support groups. Fine with me.

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm not much for the whole support group thing. Feeling your feelings is a natural, and painful part of the process. With time, much distancing, and contemplation, it is possible to start feeling good about yourself. It is possible to be positive and optimistic about life. It is possible, then, for those groups to turn on you, wanting to drag you back into the pit of despair. I'm no Pollyanna, but one can only suffer for so long. Then, it's time to live well.

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

That's just it. If you are in touch with your feelings and completely honest with yourself, they will pass.

I don't see where a therapist or support group is helping you by CONTINUING the harping on you that something is wrong with you. Is there ever any end to it?

If you say the pain passes to someone still in the throes of the worst times, it gives them hope because others have been through it. I dare say this is exactly what Dante was talking about in the Divine Comedy, which he wrote after going through hell quite literally.

In fact, the passing of the pain of strong emotion can actually be a problem, as we see in Hamlet. As time passed, and his feelings waned, he was tempted to just let the murder of his father and other crimes stand. The victims of narcissists are likewise tempted to let the damage done to them stand - like stolen money, a ruined career, or whatever. In those cases, the victim must actually fire up those old feelings now and then to motivate themselves to winning justice.

Which ain't revenge. Just as though that N had been guilty of drunk driving to put you in a wheel chair, you have a right to compensation and restoration. Otherwise you are paying for his sin for the rest of your life, which the N thinks is hilarious.

In my own experience, I was always quick to question myself. Was I wallowing in self-pity? I don't think normal people want to do that, because it's so unpleasant. It's unnatural to SEEK pain, so I really don't know why common myth has it that people frequently do.

To want to wallow in self-pity, it would take someone with ulterior motives and some subconscious agenda (like repressed feelings, maybe?).

When you stop trying to stifle feelings, there comes a point when they are spent and you want to let go of the moutain of little stuff and the stuff that can never be undone.

That's all quite natural.

I'm not saying that all therapy is bad, but there is an awful lot of bad stuff out there. These people (and the drug companies) make money off making you mentally ill and treating you. Get "codependency disorder" listed in the DSM (pathologize the victim because victims outnumber abusers and abusers are unammenable to treatment) and then try to force insurance companies to pay for treatment and the drugs for this huge new class of "patients." No proof that the disease exists or that any drug or treament works. No proof even that they are not harmful. $$$$$

And it's ideal in group settings, where the self-righteous dominate and get to revictimize plenty of vulnerable prey. They love it.

Codependency is at the top of the long list of psychological pseudoscience that is drawing fire from critics.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Katherine Gunn said...

I just read an article on the effects of motional child abuse. Here's the link to the whole article,

I wanted to share a little bit of it, though, as it is especially relevant to this topic, I think.

"Another rarely understood form of emotional abuse makes victims responsible for their own abuse by demanding that they "understand" the perpetrator. Telling a 12-year-old girl that she was an "enabler" of her own incest is emotional abuse at its most repulsive.

A particularly pernicious myth is that "healing requires forgiveness" of the abuser. For the victim of emotional abuse, the most viable form of help is self-help—and a victim handicapped by the need to "forgive" the abuser is a handicapped helper indeed. The most damaging mistake an emotional-abuse victim can make is to invest in the "rehabilitation" of the abuser. Too often this becomes still another wish that didn't come true—and emotionally abused children will conclude that they deserve no better result."

I think that pretty much says it all. Telling someone they are responsible for their own abuse is, in itself, abuse.

At 11:12 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Thanks for that. That is a wonderful article that i urge everyone to read. I have links to here and at the main site.

It IS abuse. It's about as appropriate as kicking someone when they're down. Think what callousness people like that must have. All they're thinking about is how to "look" and "sound" good. Not once do they pause for one second to think how what they're doing will affect the victim. No excuse for that. A dumb beast is more sensitive.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger So, what IS in a heart? said...

"Telling a 12-year-old girl that she was an "enabler" of her own incest is emotional abuse at its most repulsive."

Most certainly. Children at a HUGE disadvantage no matter how otherwise skilled they might be. Kind of like in "A series of unfortunate events", those kids were BRILLIANT, but they were still just kids.

As for "forgiveness", well, that's something to be EARNED, and it shouldn't be easy to earn it.

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

During my 5 year tormented on-and-off relationship with an N - I truly, without the shadow of a doubt - believe that the numerous therapists who, after hearing my descriptions of his abuse, sat back, crossed their arms and said, 'Now, what is it about YOU that allows this abuse to continue?' have contributed to my abuse.

Without their BS, I would have gotten away from the N long ago. Codependency therapy kept me in this relationship, thinking if I could just change "me" things would get better. BS BS BS.

I went to one therapist after another - I knew something was wrong, but like him, they kept blaming me. It was abuse after abuse.

I remember at one point saying 'Look, if I am mugged in a park, would you ask me what I did to encourage the mugging? This is a crime that is being committed on me!'

Another, after two sessions, said she was referring me to a 'codependent support group' because there was no way for her to help me.

And the biggest abusers of all?

The therapists at my local women's shelter, where I went for weeks and weeks to try to break away from my N.

I remember them looking at me like I was disgusting for 'allowing him to abuse me.'

In my entire 44 years on Earth, I have never, ever been so beaten down. With the help of 'my codependency therapy' I ended up suicidal. Everyone was blaming me for being so WEAK, and I felt there was no way out.

As her suicidal patient, one therapist recommended I read, "Feeling Good," a book custom written to add to the N's way of thinking - believe something and it comes true! Whoo Hoo! I guess I'm cured!

Such bullshit.

Therapists like these are more abusive than a N - and likely are N's or P's.

You wanna know about self-esteem?

It is not only standing up to the N, but standing up to these arrogant know-it-alls who called me codependent.

Everytime I heard the word, or any kind of talk in that direction - I stood up and walked out. No matter what I knew it wasn't me.

I got where I am today on my own, despite the drags on my efforts to remain a loving, caring, empathetic person of character and integrity, who will NOT give up who I am for anyone or anything.

Being the kind of person I am is the ONLY reason I got through this.

Time with a 'therapist?' $50/hour

Antidepressants? $50/month

Kathy's support that blames the N and preserves my self-esteem?

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Thank you and amen. Quite a few people have commented that the ranks of clinicians and group therapists contain many Ns and Ps. I suspect that is so. What more attractive profession for this type of person? Since childhood they've practiced cunningly influencing people's minds. They love the opportunity.

What better mask for the villain to hide behind?

And the way clinicians blame the victim with lines word-for-word the same as what the abuser says is a glaring red flag.

OK, so some, or many, are just parrots, but there is no excuse for them either. If you think and say something harmful, you're resposnible. Being a brain-dead parrot doesn't remove your responsibity for what YOU do.

Moreover, it takes a real callousness - an inability to put yourself in the victim's skin - to think such rot.

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I think I must be one of the lucky ones. My ex (an alcoholic and N) went to four different therapists/counselors because he wasn't comfortable with any of them except. Not one of them told me that he behavior had anything to do with mine. As a matter of fact, every one of them said get out now! I see a therapist now that gives me coping mechanisms to deal with my issues that may or may not be co-dependent. Never does he blame me - just helps me recognize self-defeating behaviors and ways to understand and change them. I have been separated for two years and I am happy. What I need help with is being less predictable, having more fun, dealing differently with teenage drinking, etc. I am slowing getting there. One more thought, after living with an alcoholic I have come to the conclusion that they are all narcissists. The world revolves around them and their wants/needs and they do not care who they hurt in the process. The funny thing is that they stop drinking when the pain gets to be too much for them - never mind what they have done to the people that used to love them

At 5:09 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

co-dependency is one of my hobby topics. Since I really didn't know too much about it, I got a book by Melodie somebody-or-other and sat down to read.

My conclusion: The person she was describing as a co-dependent actually exhibited far more traits of NPD than someone who wasn't. I could see clearly that a co-dependent was someone with their own bucket of emotional mess that needed to be sifted through.

For me, the theory of co-dependency was not much more than a crock. And I did persist in reading the majority of the book, as I was stunned about what was in there.

Having said that, I do believe that there is a small minority of people who do possess those traits and do get locked into a destructive relationship due to a lack of understanding of their own needs and true self. And literature about co-dependency really can help that person find their way and get themselves fixed.

As for me, I didn't fit the co-dependent model at all. Well, perhaps a snippet here or there, but so would everybody if it's analysed closely enough.

At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only began to heal when I totally blew off the co dependency theorists and the rhetoric and totally started to honor MY experience of what happened to me.

I did experience trauma bonding for a long while but that was NOT the same as having been a life long "co dependent" I find this pop psych stuff very harmful to victims of N's and P's!! It the short term it can give you some insight if you need that but, to take it up as a way to heal or a mantra which you internalize as the truth about yourself, especially when you have been abused and exploited by an N is further abuse!!!

The bystanders blame the victim, the N's blame and smear the victim and now this "therapy" is getting you to do that to yourself as a way to heal?? Oh???? I fully understand what they are saying too. I read all the books long ago Ms. Beatty but, no way it applies to this sort of abuse.

This is a predator seeking you out and not because you are a beacon to N's or anything like it. If you are kind, have money, a career, are balanced *N's LOVE balanced people because they love attaining someone like that and then tearing them down!!*

I had no real glaring issues at all in my life when the N came along and began working on me. Period! And it was ignoring the co dependency theorist that got me to really see what he was attracted to.

You have to look at what your life was like before you were mind f*cked by one of these skillful sharks. I in no way had a habitual way of bringing abusive people into my life. My life was pretty damned good and I'd worked hard for that before this person brainwashed me into this...and it happens SLOWLY. I had questions of him certainly but, no normal person goes around thinking that there are people out there like this so you better be on your p's and q's at all times...until it happens to you.

People telling ME to be responsible for my own demise on top of what the N has done to my life is abusive. And the second I saw that is when my self esteem shot up. I honored that I felt that way and that it was okay to realize their "theory" is wrong for me.

Yes, I have to fix somehow the mess he handed me but, that says NOTHING about MY character that I am in it. I was taken, fooled utterly by a consumate liar. Nothing more complicated than that. Con artists are experts at what they do.

My unending question is what is it about the victims of these people that make so many want to blame us rather than hold the N's up to the light of day for what they are??? I experience this this moment the N has people convinced that I'm trying to get "revenge" on him because I told the TRUTH about what he did. He has them believing I'm some terribly ill and sad little person who only wants to ruin him out of lol...jealousy.

They believe it and these are not dumb people in other ways and are all professionals in their chosen walks of life. If they believe him as wholeheartedly as I once did are THEY all co dependent too??? Hell no. He's just that good. He's been practicing getting confirmation from others that he is the innocent one his whole life.

If their was a category in the Olympics for the contortionist N would win the gold medal.

I feel bad for those who spend too much time exploring the co dependency thing sometimes. The fact is and the simple truth is that with N's and P's...the victims are in NO WAY to blame no matter what. End of story. You do have a big mess to clean up and you need to find ways to heal and move on but, believing there was something fundamentally wrong with you that made this easier to happen to you is not applicable with N's and P's.

Ever. It was utter and complete validation of my experience and being totally honest with myself about what I went through that made me feel complete again. Splitting off parts of myself to blame or some such made me feel further shame. Goodbye to the blame game on ANY level with regard to these predators.

This theory is junk science. It's no different than asking a rape victim what she was wearing to cause her rape or saying that a child somehow attracted a sexual predator. It's the SAME thinking!! I reject it whole heartedly for myself. When I see this for what it is I feel better and better.


Post a Comment

<< Home

craig class janesville