371 of 391 people found the following review helpful
A terrific first step towards happier living
, December 20, 2002
This review is from: Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself (Paperback)
So far as I can tell, very few people could ever read this book without taking something positive away from it. And you don't have to be the product of a broken home, child abuse, neglect, or other serious trauma to see how the machinery of so-called "codependency" tweaks your life; always for the worse.
Having read other peoples' reviews, I'm not sure where some of the negative "cult" comments and rancor come from. I recognized a lot of these behaviors in mysef and in my family, and I'm not from an abusive, alcoholic, or otherwise chemically shattered upbringing. I have good parents and I had a good childhood. Just the same, even good parents and a good childhood are no guarantee against developing unhealthy relationship habits, as well as damaging internal emotional processes.
If you're like me, you shy away from "self help" literature because it all seems way too touchy-feely. I don't see myself as a victim, and I refuse to adopt the victim mentality. But nobody gives parents a rule book on setting healthy emotional boundaries with their kids, and kids that grow up in a home without healthy emotional boundaries become adults without healthy emotional boundaries. This can really get you into trouble when you start trying to form a family of your own, and is the reason why I sought out this book with urgency.
Does it seem like your hapiness is too connected to how other people live their lives? Do you get really upset and depressed because those whom you love engage in behavior you see as risky or damaging? Feel powerless to stop your loved one from using or abusing mind altering substances? Tired of always feeling like "the bad guy" when you're just trying to get your partner to "be good"? Has your own social circle dwindled or vanished, so that now only your partner and his/her friends are 'your' social group? Would you like to know why it's so hard to get out of bed every morning, and why you spend so much time worrying about that certain person in your life, while worrying too little about yourself?
The problem called "co-odependency" is not a catch-all, nor is it remedied over night. But I'd dare say that at least half or more of American adults--indeed adults across the entire world--struggle with some form of co-dependent-like behavior. And if you want a deeper insight into this problem, what it is, what it is not, and how it messes with your life, then read this book, and gain strength from understanding.
Now, having said all this, and having dealt with these issues for a few years, I think I need to be honest and say that a book like this is only the FIRST STEP. Nothing replaces a good therapist or psychologist. If you feel like you really are that messed up or are "going bonkers", please, see about getting some professional counseling. When your car is broken do you try to fix it yourself? No, most of us do not. Not even those of us who are handy with cars. The same is true for psychological and emotional disturbances. Many companies now offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that offset or eliminate the costs of counseling. If your company has an EAP, by all means, use it!
Barring counseling, I would HIGHLY SUGGEST another book, once you have passed through the bowels of "Codependent No More" and are ready to move beyond merely identifying your problems, and are anxious to work on SOLVING them.
To merely gaze at one's navel and bemoan the sorry state of one's broken or damaged history is to remain trapped in emotional and mental amber. You're not REALLY going to "get better" until you attack the unhealthy mental habits at the heart of the problem. Understanding the root of the trouble is just a first step, making changes for the better is what happens next, and ought to be the logical goal of EVERY person seeking relief from abnormal or extreme emotional and psychological disturbance.
Which is why I highly, highly, highly, suggest seeking out the classic "A Guide to Rational Living" by PhD. Albert Ellis and PhD. Robert A. Harper. Whereas Beattie is good at giving a layman's view of co-dependent problems and guiding the unkowing through a tour of co-dependent issues, where they might come from, and how they affect our lives in the present, she is not technically a TRAINED professional in mental health care. Without seeking that kind of professional-level knowledge, one is very likely to fall into the "Twelve Step Trap" wherein 'recovery' becomes an asymptotic hell of forever progressing towards wellness, without actually attaining wellness.
Doctors Ellis and Harper have the goods on making changes in your life RIGHT NOW, without facing a daunting and endless program of eternal Anonymous-type meetings and couch sessions with your shrink. Refreshingly pragmatic and frank, Ellis and Harper give you a toolbox full of solid instruments to help you start dismantling that co-dependent house you've built for yourself (yes, I said YOU built for YOURSELF), and avoiding taking on "group" and perpetual "recovery" as just another set of addictions or ways to avoid truly attaining mental and emotional health.
Thanks for reading. Best of luck on your journey, as I continue my own.
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