Sunday, August 7, 2016
Some self-help books have made "codependence" into a pathologic diagnosis. Certainly, unhealthy relationships do exist that reinforce people's addictions and unhealthy patterns of behavior. That's not what we are talking about here. It is wholly natural, normal, and necessary for human beings to depend on one another. Wholesome codependence is part of loving relationships between spouses, parents, and children and close friends.
Human beings are innately social animals. It is natural for people to live in community with one another - rather than merely in proximity to one another. Living in community means acknowledging our innate interdependence and accepting a level of mutual responsibility for one another. The most concrete example of this fact is the government's pledge to care for its citizens with Social Security. But the principle of shared responsibility is evident in a thousand expectations and norms of behavior not only within the body politic, but also in the civic communities of towns and neighborhoods and in workplaces, social clubs, and congregations. It is a mark of a healthy community that members care for one another during periods of stress and need, and can be counted on to do so.
-Ira Byock, M.D., The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living