helplessness," the dependent, compliant person sees no alternative
way out. They need to learn to say to themselves, "I can handle this
myself" or "I don't have to agree with everything someone else says."
They need to challenge self-limiting ideas, such as "I could never do
this without _____'s help," or "I'd be scared to move a long way away
from my family" or "Oh, I'll never make it without all the good luck I
can get." Take charge. Test your ability. See if you can't accomplish
much more than you have thought you could. Build your optimism and
self-confidence (see methods #1 and #9 in chapter 14).
Because shame is thought to underlie the addictions and
codependency, there is a strong tendency in this area to blame
parents ("dysfunctional families," "toxic parents," etc.) for our
problems. There is also great emphasis on 12-step treatment
programs. Certainly, understanding the origin of our difficulties is
useful, but instead of merely parent bashing, we would profit more
from recognizing our reaction to parental anger, fears, over-protection,
domination, punishment, abuse, emotional disturbance, etc. Not all
abused, neglected kids have problems; some find ways to adjust. We
need to understand our reactions to good and bad circumstances; then
become survivors and copers.
Some therapists believe blaming our parents and going to 12-step
groups are not as helpful as it could be. These critics (Tessina, 1993)
say the emphasis is unduly on past troubles and misdeeds--not on new
skills, new views of the situation, new expectations and goals, new
plans for changing your life. No doubt that is true--it would be
delusional to believe that current 12-step programs will remain the
best possible treatment for the next 50 years. But 12-step programs
serve many people well (at low cost); they are a good "first effort," a
place to start, and they provide many effective procedures.
Researchers need to find additional treatments to add to the 12-step
programs. Unfortunately, some people's devotion to and dependency
on old methods as well as a fear of change may inhibit the
development of even better treatment methods in this area. Research
is just good thinking.
References cited in this chapter are listed in the Bibliography (see
link on the book title page). Please note that references are on pages
according to the first letter of the senior author's last name (see
alphabetical links at the bottom of the main Bibliography page).