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Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives Paperback – April 29, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This book stands out among the current glut of material on codependence because it claims the realm of parenting for its vantage point. The authors believe that codependents must heal themselves in order not to repeat the "less than nurturing" behaviors of their own addicted or emotionally dysfunctional parents. Hence, they couple strategies for recovery with guidelines on what is and is not "normal" in the parent-child relationship. The authors' conclusions will invite controversy; for instance, they suggest that "emotional sexual abuse" of children may lead to homosexuality in adulthood. Nor are they reluctant to generalize: "Although physical and mental illness aren't addictions, their effect on the family is the same." Offsetting the opinionated commentary is great compassion for the helpless, hurt children who live inside adult codependents. Mellody and Andrea Wells Miller are coauthors of Breaking Free: A Recovery Workbook for Facing Co de pend ence ; J. Keith Miller is a freelance writer. Author tour.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“Mellody is a true pioneer...she offers tried and effective ways to treat codependency. This is a splendid offering.” (John Bradshaw, national director of Codependency TreatmentLife Plus Institute, author of Healing the Shame That Binds You and Bradshaw On: The Family.)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; 1 edition (June 14, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062505890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062505897
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (178 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

221 of 231 people found the following review helpful By Michael Guttentag on January 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Some things said simply are more powerful thanks to their simplicity. This book provides a forceful, unflinching description of how people who are raised in a dysfunctional or abusive environment often sabotage and cripple their lives. The structure of the book is straightforward. The situations Mellody discusses are often sound sadly ordinary rather than extraordinary. But the resulting emotional resonance of this book is undeniable.
Mellody methodically dissects the disorder she calls codependency. She first explains how when working with addicted individuals as a nurse in a recovery center in Arizona she saw a repeated pattern of dysfunctional behavior in individuals and their families that went beyond the addictions for which the individuals were being treated. Her work there and her own personal development led to the conclusions in this book. (One of the wonderful aspects of the book is that when Mellody talks about codependents and their behavior) she does not speak condescendingly about "those codependents", but rather uses examples that begin with "I" or "us." This creates a powerful intimacy.
There are four main sections to the book. The first section details what she sees as the core symptoms of codependency: difficulty experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem, difficulty setting functional boundaries, difficulty owning and expressing one's own reality, difficulty taking care of one's adult needs and wants, and difficulty behaving moderately. The second section details how dysfunctional family can push a child (whom Mellody describes as inherently valuable, vulnerable, imperfect, dependent, and immature) into codependency.
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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I sought counseling for depression earlier this year, and this book was recommended to me several times by my social worker. He urged me to "take it with a grain of salt," as Ms. Mellody is very much against codependency, while my counselor does not believe that all aspects of it in all cases are all bad. Until recently, I was hesitant to do any more self-exploration than I was already doing on an almost-daily basis, but since I have started to feel better, I decided to look into this codependency theory. I am only 50 or so pages into the book, but I'm finding it difficult to put down because it seems to describe me to a T in some ways that I never thought anyone else would understand. All my life I have found most of my self-satisfaction only after ensuring that I am pleasing others. When my husband and twin sister kept telling me last year that I never seemed happy (but I never felt truly unhappy), that's when I decided I needed to make a significant change in the way I was living my life. Basing your self-worth on what Ms. Mellody refers to as "others-esteem" (as opposed to self-esteem) is a vicious, exhausting circle. I think I intuitively figured this out over the last few months on my own with the help of my counselor, but it really makes sense hearing Ms. Mellody explain it, because she has been there, so I can identify with her explanations MUCH better than those provided by someone who doesn't understand what it's like to have grown up this way. I hope to convince my husband to read portions of this book, because I think it will help him to realize that my struggles are real and not so unusual after all.
The only downside I have found so far is that nearly all of Ms.
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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful By David A. Bayliss on December 31, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am not an expert in this field but as far as I can tell there are at least two distinct strands of co-dependance. There is the type that is induced during adulthood by exposure to an adult addict. Then there is a form induced during childhood via what Pia describes as 'abuse'.

I came into this subject as my wife has been diagnosed with codependancy. The Melodie Beatty books don't come close to describing her symtoms. Pia's book hits her case perfectly. So the usefulness of this book will depend upon which of the two cases concern you.

This books gives the clearest and most detailed explanation of the symptoms and progression of this illness I have come across and her metaphors for describing some of the internal driving forces behind the behaviours are excellent.

One thing that may irritate some is that Pia describes almost any form of dysfunctional parenting as abuse - whilst she is right by her definition it can appear harsh. Her sections upon dysfunctional parenting are extremely helpful - especially as codependants usually pass the disease to their children via this mechanism.

All in all, if you have a form of codependancy induced during childhood I believe this book is a MUST ahve.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By T. Stephenson on March 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
I read a lot of books with similar titles to this one. But this one is dramatically different in the sense that it (for me) correctly identified that the condition I live with is all about me... and that it lives and operates in me without having anything to do with anyone else - except that the actions of others can trigger me.

I feel that a lot of other books on codependence seem to invoke depictions of "someone that supports and enables another person's destructive habits". I would judge that to be a tiny subset of the behaviour, and not much to do with the problem at all. Pia describes how it is really a disease of impaired emotional maturaty as a result of abuse suffered during childhood. (And by abuse, it doesn't take terrible beatings to do the damage and create the condition). She then describes all the symptoms and issues that it creates in our lives. For me, it was like looking in a mirror.

The key point I wanted to present is that this book is different. I strongly believe that other addictions are medications to help mask and dull the pain that comes from codependence.

I have purchased five copies of it now... I keep giving it away.
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