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Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

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Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby Après L Orage » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:33 am

Based on the information provided by Whichway and Narc_Magnet in the Narcissism and Codependency thread (here is the link: http://coda.org/index.cfm/meeting-materials1/patterns-and-characteristics-2011/):

Denial Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• have difficulty identifying what they are feeling.
• minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel.
• perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
• lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
• label others with their negative traits.
• think they can take care of themselves without any help from others.
• mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
• express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
• do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted.

Low Self-esteem Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• have difficulty making decisions.
• judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough.
• are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts.
• value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own.
• do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile persons.
• seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than.
• have difficulty admitting a mistake.
• need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good.
• are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want.
• perceive themselves as superior to others.
• look to others to provide their sense of safety.
• have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.
• have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries.

Compliance Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
• compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
• put aside their own interests in order to do what others want.
• are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.
• are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
• accept sexual attention when they want love.
• make decisions without regard to the consequences.
• give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.

Control Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
• attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
• freely offer advice and direction without being asked.
• become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice.
• lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence.
• use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
• have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others.
• demand that their needs be met by others.
• use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate.
• use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally.
• refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
• adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
• use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
• pretend to agree with others to get what they want.

Avoidance Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them.
• judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
• avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance.
• allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships.
• use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
• diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery.
• suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
• pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away.
• refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves.
• believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
• withhold expressions of appreciation.

Can pwNPD on here relate to any of those bullet points? Nons?

I can see myself in a great deal of the low self-esteem patterns (my past self definitely had to deal with a great deal of compliance patterns and some of the denial patterns).

My gut feeling is that the first three (denial, low self-esteem and compliance) will describe better "classic" codependency patterns whereas control and avoidance patterns will correspond to a more narcissistic style of codependency.
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby whichway » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:34 am

Pulling out the ones that I think fit me (with notes where appropriate):

Denial Patterns

• mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.

Low Self-esteem Patterns

• have difficulty making decisions. (Only depends on what the decision is over - so contextual)
• look to others to provide their sense of safety. (contextual)
• have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects. (contextual)

Compliance Patterns

• are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long. (I think others might say this about me. Not sure I'd say it about myself.)

Control Patterns

• attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel. (Convince, yes. Control, no.)
• freely offer advice and direction without being asked. (Contextual, but leans yes.)

Avoidance Patterns

• judge harshly what others think, say, or do. (Define harshly. We all judge.)
• refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves. (No. I am fine with surrendering to other people and/or animals or natural disasters. I am an atheist, though.)
• withhold expressions of appreciation. (I don't withhold. But sometimes on the internet specifically I forget that I'm not showing it. [In person I'm all smiles and laughter and eye contact.])
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby octopuslol » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:00 am

At this point, it seems not only do we need to define codependency, but pathological narcissism as well. Modern psychology states that NPD is a result of severe ego deficits, the main one being the ability to regulate self-esteem. This is why a person with NPD will crave and seek out approval and admiration, in order to regulate and maintain the stability of the grandiose self. Since there is no inner voice that says, "I'm ok, I will be okay, it's just a minor setback" any narcissistic injury has the potential to send the person with NPD from being a god among men to the lowest of life forms.

Low self-esteem, control issues, lack of empathy, are consequences of such a deficit and not the actual cause. You can have most, or even all of the issues on that list and still not have NPD, because motivations matter far more than symptoms do.

So, do codependents crave the admiration and approval of others to maintain a grandiose self? I guess some do, if you're thinking of covert narcissism. But I don't think issues of self-esteem are the main issue with what we think of with codependency. It could be one issue, but the main one seems unlikely, as it would be with NPD.

Personally, I prefer the schema approach when it comes to defining these things. Here are three maladaptive schemas that could be used to refer to codependency.

Self-Sacrifice Schema: http://healingschemas.tumblr.com/post/9 ... ice-schema
I don't see the narcissism with this one?

Subjugation Schema: http://healingschemas.tumblr.com/post/9 ... ion-schema
Same with this one

Approval-seeking Schema: http://healingschemas.tumblr.com/post/9 ... ing-schema
Now this one is narcissistic. We all have this one to varying degrees, since we're all a tad narcissistic. But at the severe end of this schema, you're dealing with pathological narcissism. So yeah, a codependent having this schema at the severe end would be narcissistic. Otherwise, perhaps not.
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby OneRinger » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:46 pm

octopuslol wrote:Approval-seeking Schema: http://healingschemas.tumblr.com/post/9 ... ing-schema
Now this one is narcissistic. We all have this one to varying degrees, since we're all a tad narcissistic. But at the severe end of this schema, you're dealing with pathological narcissism. So yeah, a codependent having this schema at the severe end would be narcissistic. Otherwise, perhaps not.


It is more the Grandiose/Entitlement schema that would fit the psychiatric NPD.

As for the Self-Sacrifice, it is not necessarily grandiose, but can easily be, and if the person expect either gratitude or recognition for it, it is also entitled. Think about someone dying on a cross and being also God. In this case, it is both. And it happens to be a fairly common empathic ideal self, so to speak. Maybe a billion people think it is a good thing, give or take.

There is a thing though, about co-dependance in relation to narcissism, which was probably proposed by Vaknin, that there are some people that are both covert narcissists and co-dependent, and will seek narcissist to live their own narcissism by proxy. I don't know if they are the same as the above. Maybe some are. If you think about it, it is not an unusual pattern. Take for example, the head of States. More often than not, they act the narcissist part, and their wives, are there to show compassion and small non controversial issues that relate to social good. I believe the couple in House of Cards fit quite well that pattern. Not that the wife is particularly self-sacrificing, but she acts the part. Clearly she has the same ambition as her husband though, but she is happy to have second role, but still she wants it to be important. This being said, I believe the subjugated would be more common when it comes to relationships with someone highly NPD pathological. We are talking about long term relationship though, obviously, not a fling of a year or two, or less.
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby Après L Orage » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:05 pm

octopuslol wrote:Personally, I prefer the schema approach when it comes to defining these things.


I can tell you're making a point. I just want to be extra sure which.

Are you saying that you prefer schemas over a list of symptoms because you think that the best way to define a maladaptive mechanism is by delineating its cause rather than the way it expresses itself?
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby Après L Orage » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:17 pm

OneRinger wrote:There is a thing though, about co-dependance in relation to narcissism, which was probably proposed by Vaknin, that there are some people that are both covert narcissists and co-dependent, and will seek narcissist to live their own narcissism by proxy.


It wasn't proposed by Sam Vaknin, I assure you. It is the very definition of the Closet Narcissist by James Masterson.

OneRinger wrote:I believe the couple in House of Cards fit quite well that pattern. Not that the wife is particularly self-sacrificing, but she acts the part. Clearly she has the same ambition as her husband though, but she is happy to have second role, but still she wants it to be important.


Yes, OMG, yes! I think the show makes a good job of describing how little they have bonded except over their thirst of power.
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby KingPing » Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:24 pm

So what does a codependent person really want? For me it looks like the bulletpoints above show the following tendencies:

- codependents manipulate others in order to get what they want (objects of desire)
- codependents manipulate others to be in -hidden- power (emotionally)
- codenependents look out for others to provide safety for them (own insecurity)
- codependents want to feel needed (attention)


Why would such a person stay in an unhealthy relationship though? That does not seem to fit. I dont understand what they really want or crave for (aware or not).
There is nothing more humane than the will to survive.
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby octopuslol » Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:34 pm

As for the Self-Sacrifice, it is not necessarily grandiose, but can easily be, and if the person expect either gratitude or recognition for it, it is also entitled.


Sure, if it co-exists with the aforementioned Approval/Recognition-Seeking schema. People with the Self-Sacrifice schema aren't necessarily doing it for recognition or approval, but to prevent feelings of guilt over being "selfish" or to alleviate pain in others. I see what you're saying though that if this schema gets carried away it can lead to some sort of martyr complex.

This being said, I believe the subjugated would be more common when it comes to relationships with someone highly NPD pathological. We are talking about long term relationship though, obviously, not a fling of a year or two, or less.


More or less. It's a relatively common schema as far as I know, many people deal with it in some form or another, fear of speaking out for various reasons. I agree with Apres that House of Cards is a good example, and they both seem narcissistic, just in different ways.

Après L Orage wrote:It wasn't proposed by Sam Vaknin, I assure you. It is the very definition of the Closet Narcissist by James Masterson.


This. And Masterson never said that covert narcissists are always attracted to overt narcissists per se, but they're far more likely to be because they have the 'supplies' that the covert narcissist can bask in, like power, fame, beauty, wealth, etc.

Vaknin not giving credit where credit is due is not unusual, though. :roll:
Après L Orage wrote:I can tell you're making a point. I just want to be extra sure which.

Are you saying that you prefer schemas over a list of symptoms because you think that the best way to define a maladaptive mechanism is by delineating its cause rather than the way it expresses itself?


Pretty much. When it comes to these labels like NPD, BPD and so on, motivations and intent matter. The impact isn't necessarily different. If two guys are speeding down the road, one is just being reckless and the other is rushing to get his wife to the ER and they both strike and kill a pedestrian, that doesn't make the loss of those people any less pronounced just because intent was different.

Let's use control for example. Two people have control issues. Their behavior looks awfully similar. One tries to control others to maintain order and cleanliness, the other tries to control everyone around him to maintain or cultivate a certain self-image. The treatment for these two types will probably be different, even if the outcome is the same (less control of the environment and others).
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby whichway » Thu Jan 12, 2017 12:53 am

I guess my questions in all of this are:

Is codependency a precursor to NPD? As in, is there a blending between the two?

Does that mean that the grandiose fantasies arise from a codependent state and then distinguish NPD from codependency?

I could see the grandiose self accounting for the discrepancies between codependency and NPD.
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Re: Codependency: Patterns & Characteristics

Postby Akuma » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:54 am

whichway wrote:I guess my questions in all of this are:

Is codependency a precursor to NPD? As in, is there a blending between the two?

Does that mean that the grandiose fantasies arise from a codependent state and then distinguish NPD from codependency?

I could see the grandiose self accounting for the discrepancies between codependency and NPD.


I think the question cant be asked this way. NPD is a medically defined and psychologically describable personality disorder, codependency is a murky list of changing symptoms, ascribed to people who pathologically enable addicts, created by the [Alcoholics] Anonymous groups. It doesnt hodl enough descriptive power and is not in the same category, so its an apples vs oranges thing.
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