Possible Paths To Codependency

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How does someone become “codependent”, a “slave of man”, subsumed to someone else?
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      • Was he born that way?
      • Did it start in childhood?
      • Did it appear later in life?
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For codependency to take place, two people are involved – the codependent, and the one who causes or allows the codependency – let’s call him/her the controller. Although not always the case, the controller could be a person with insolent pride – the narcissist – who seeks to have others in his orbit to put him on a pedestal and serve him.
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The prospective slave has a vulnerability that can be exploited or manipulated – often unconsciously. This could include:
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    1. the young
    2. sensitive or compliant personalities
    3. those carrying a previous wound that hasn’t healed
    4. those desiring affection to the extent that they will accept occasional crumbs of “love” from someone in exchange for whatever is asked of them
    5. those with no solid extrinsic foundation for their life
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The controller could use a variety of methods to achieve dominance over the vulnerable
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    • Outright bullying, either physically or verbally, ranging from cutting remarks to much more aggressive power moves
    • Lies and manipulation, ranging from charm (which is deceitful – Proverbs 31:30) to the current ill-defined popular phrase “gaslighting” (the attempt to make someone believe an alternate reality)
    • Some combo of the two – such as alternating “love”/abuse

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The controller’s intent is to make the target dependent upon them, so that the target will exalt and be subservient as they seek to get their emotional or physical needs met. The fickleness of the controller may cause the target to cling even tighter as the controller appears to be the only available foundation of strength and source of need fulfillment.

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These seeds of dependency are likely planted in childhood, through a parent or other authority who makes the child in some way fearful of disappointing the authority. The (narcissistic) parent in some way forces the child to take undue responsibility for meeting the parent’s needs as the means to get their own needs met.

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If the dependency is not resolved before early adulthood – if the target does not learn to have their own rock solid foundation for life, they will tend to look for “strong people” who provide that foundation. In milder forms the target may become a “people-pleaser” – constantly going beyond what is necessary or appropriate to make sure others are not disappointed in them. They will tend to respond in the same way as childhood with too much reliance on the approval of others. They have a warped view of healthy relationships.

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While the target may desire a romantic relationship with someone who is kind to them, they might easily gravitate toward someone like their childhood controller. This would be compounded by the fact that narcissists with a bent toward dominance will be attracted to them as a potential “planet” revolving around them. In his pursuit, the N might deceive the target through initial kindness, before they reveal their true colors.

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The special vulnerability of children brings a particularly strong judgment on those who would damage them. That is why Jesus said…

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….. to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:1-2

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Next Up: The Foundation For Freedom From Codependency