Customer Review

371 of 391 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 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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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 7, 2009 4:18:15 PM PST
Travis Stein says:
Outstanding review Brad. Very well-written and it made me look up for a sec if you were one of those one-time and done fake reviewers or reviewers that plug products incessantly then disappear for 5 years :).

I'll definitely look into doing the library deal with this book first and we'll see how it goes. Lord knows I have enough self-help books on the shelf.

Posted on Apr 29, 2010 7:49:22 PM PDT
Wow...I never met you and reading this sound as if you were talking to me. I haven't purchased this yet but I plan to as it was recommended by my counselor. Thank you.

Posted on Feb 5, 2011 2:26:51 PM PST
Thanks so much, I'm buying the book you recommend, my husband has been in AA for 35 years. never made a slip and its just like you say, still "in recovery". So well stated.

Posted on Jun 3, 2011 1:29:18 PM PDT
rcfreebird says:
Thank you for your comments, I will be buying this book! I did not realize my work even offered the free EAP for counseling, now I am definitely interested in getting myself in, as well as my boyfriend!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2012 11:07:29 AM PDT
Sandra B. G. says:
Yep, AA likes to do that "recovery forever" thing, which is silly. If you can have a drink and stop at any time- you are not an alcoholic. And if you haven't had any drink for 35 years - you are not in recovery anymore. You are fully recovered. This is why many people consider AA to be a religion!

Posted on Sep 5, 2012 11:11:16 AM PDT
Sandra B. G. says:
I thank you for your long comment and review. It gives a clear picture. I will look through the book and I may choose not to purchase it especially if it is like AA or any of the 12 steps groups. . if it has anything in it like "Recovery is forever", I'm not going to purchase it. I like getting to a point, not on the "road to" recovery forever. And I LOVE books by Dr. Ellis. And I do agree, one must have a therapist, which I have right now.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 24, 2013 7:53:42 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 24, 2013 7:54:57 AM PDT
Sandra, I don't know about that last bit about one "must" have a therapist. When I was a teenager, my mom sent me to a therapist and I enlisted one for myself a year later. However, therapy without spiritual guidance seems to me to be rather pointless. A lot of our problems are related to false identification with worldly ideas and images. And nowadays, the penchant for prescribing meds makes therapy downright dangerous for those who are at their most vulnerable. I know someone who has been going to therapy for at least 20 years and he's worse than ever. He makes a lot of money so he can probably find therapists willing to kiss his butt so that he continues to give them buisness! LOL

Posted on Dec 26, 2013 5:07:46 PM PST
Lynn says:
I make constant progress in Al Anon and look forward to continuing to unfold and become even better. I love the love and fellowship as I work at staying healthy in my life and in this world. The fellowship is a great way to stay honest with myself and continue to expand into a more and more joyous way of living. Like they say, "take what you like and leave the rest."

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2014 8:22:29 AM PST
Travis Stein says:
Agree on some points April. I think having a therapist is invaluable, regardless. Now it helps too that mine turned me onto Al-Anon, but I also really enjoy seeing her because sometimes I just need an hour every 2 weeks to vent and air things out. Everyone varies though!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2014 10:29:08 AM PST
When you vent, you are just practicing the vibration of that of which you do not want. The Law of Attraction is where it's at, IMO. Ever notice that people who "vent" tend to stay in that place forever? At some point you have to let go of the attachment to the negative attraction. So again, a very tuned-in therapist wouldn't be so bad but how many of those exist? And you have to learn how to guide YOURSELF and stop turning to others for their opinions of you! Do you hear that, wishy-washy Librans? ;)
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