From Codependence to Interdependence

Dr. Keith WittCognitive, Interpersonal, Love & Intimacy, Psychology, Video, Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith Leave a Comment

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Codependent relationships — those relationships where one person needs another, and the other person needs to be needed — are surprisingly common in our lives, regardless of our overall stage of development. In fact, there is a good chance that you have dealt with codependent relationships in the past, or are maybe even struggling with one right now. This discussion will help you to transform those relationships into genuinely interdependent relationships that can transcend and include both healthy dependence and independence.

During the discussion, Corey notices that much of this can be approached as a fundamental polarity of agency and communion, which helps us understand how both dependence and interdependence can disintegrate into counter-dependence and co-dependence when either pole is isolated from the other:

Humans are ultrasocial, and most of our interactions fall into three categories, dependent, interdependent, or counterdependent. Just like most everything else, there are healthy and unhealthy versions of each:

  • Healthy dependence is when we appropriately rely on someone else to take care of us, or appropriately care for another person who would benefit from our help. Healthy dependence does not diminish the person caring for or the person being cared for, but instead supports the social holon they participate in. An infant being cared for by a parent or an invalid being cared for by a nurse are two examples of healthy dependence.
  • Unhealthy dependence is codependence, where one person attempts to help another in ways that diminish both. Trying to help an alcoholic or addict by lying for them or enabling them to practice their addiction is the most widely known example of this.
  • Healthy independence is doing for yourself when it serves the highest good for your and other’s health and development.
  • Unhealthy independence is counterdependence—not seeking connection or help appropriately because of ego or entrenched defenses.
  • Healthy interdependence is a functional social holon where people support each other’s vertical and horizontal health by appropriate agency and communion.
  • Unhealthy interdependence is using the LL intersubjective to create dangerous cultural forms like mass formation psychosis, extractive capitalism, or boomeritis.

Blindness to codependent patterns leads to sustaining exactly the behaviors that both people in the codependent loop are trying to change.

—Dr. Keith

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Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is editor and producer of Integral Life. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.