independent, self-directed, and tolerant of opposing views. How do we
infer this? Several studies have been done (Remley, 1988). In one,
sociologists asked mothers in the 1924 and in 1978 what traits they
wanted their children to acquire. In 1924, the three most important
traits were "loyalty to the church," "strict obedience," and "good
manners." All three are aspects of conformity! 54 years later in 1978,
mothers considered the most important traits of children to be
"independence (thinking sensibly for themselves)," "tolerance (of
others)," and "social mindedness (accepting responsibility)." All
aspects of autonomy! Keep in mind these are the values of mothers of
young children; we don't know how successful those mothers were in
teaching those values. But I consider the world moving in the right
direction (although autonomy could degenerate into self-centeredness,
competitiveness, isolation, and greed). Despite the progress, this
chapter will make it clear to you that, as a species, we are still
appallingly conforming, passive, and obedient. Perhaps we have just
found new masters and Gods.
If you are motivated to be more decisive, assertive, or self-
directed, this chapter discusses several useful self-help methods: self-
rewarding independence, extinguishing fears of being alone, practicing
decision-making and assertiveness, and gaining insight into your
passive-dependency. If you consistently subordinate yourself to
others, it is likely you will eventually feel inferior and resent them.
Don't take the easy way out. It is important to be "your own person."
Since God made us to be originals, why stoop to be a copy?
Definition of terms
Dependency is having needs that you can't--or feel you can't--
meet by yourself. An infant is obviously dependent in most ways. Later
in life, as a teenager, we may need our parents less and less in several
areas: safety, socially, economically, affectionately, etc. Thus, we as
adults become more independent although it is normal to always need
others in certain ways. But if as children we have overprotective, over-
controlling or authoritarian parents, we are in danger of remaining
overly dependent for our age. The dependent personality is
conforming, compliant, passive, suggestible, sensitive to what others
want, yielding to other's opinions, needy to have others like us, and
generally pleased to be taken care of. Many of these traits are "nice"
but you can clearly see that the dependent personality is designed to
encourage others to be protective, controlling, demanding, and
nurturing. Thus, dependent people are usually in a reciprocal
relationship with someone who is controlling (a "control freak") or