In the book of “The Family”, John Bradshaw said that co-dependency can be understood as a characteristic of an adult who is contaminated by childish dependency needs. The reason almost everyone identifies with many characteristics of co-dependency is that the monarchial patriarchal rules (the poisonous pedagogy) created an environment wherein children could not get their developmental dependency needs met. When children are nurtured properly, their developmental dependency needs are, on some level, met. This is never achieved perfectly, but certainly in a manner that allows them to grow into adulthood with a certain degree of autonomy. When these dependency needs are not met, children become adults with a child’s “neediness.” This is the general meaning of what is described by the words “adult child.” A co-dependent person is an adult with mild to severe developmental deficits.
He also mentioned that we humans have a built-in protection system that allows us to defend ourselves against stress. When a threat actually occurs in the forms of abandonment, the person responds with survival behaviors. Such behaviors include denial, dissociation, repression, withdrawal (flight responses) or anger, identification with the persecutor, and reactive and reenacting behavior (flight responses.) Survival behaviors are hard to give up. They are old friends that served us well. We did survive. But we survived by developing a kind of power that resulted from sacrificing ourselves. We learned to control people by becoming Caretakers, Stars, Heroes and Heroines, or by being Lost Children, Perfect, the Probem, the Rebel, or the Scapegoat. We were Surrogate Spouses, our Parent’s Parent, Little Parents, etc. In these early role decisions, we developed a dependency on things outside ourselves to the point of self-neglect. We gave up our own reality in order to take care of our parents or the needs of the family system. In short, we survived by abandoning our true selves.
Children who usually need their parents’ time, attention and direction for at least the first 15 years of their lives. When they don’t get it, they are abandoned. Abandonment sets up compulsivity. Since the children’s needs aren’t met by the parents, they have an inner emptiness, and this drives their compulsivity. The children look for more and more love, attention, praise, booze, money, etc.
John Bradshaw also thought that compulsivity is a more comprehensive term than addiction. Compulsivity comes closer to meaning “addictiveness.” Addictiveness is the inner emptiness we try to fill up with any mood-altering behavior. The word addiction has often been limited to chemical substances like alcohol, nicotine and other drugs that have their own inherent addictive properties. There are many types of nonchemical addction. Activities such as gambling, sexing, working, eating, and starving can also be fullfledged addictions. The common root of every addiction is compulsivity understood as addictiveness.
Compulsivity is set up by the kinds of abandonment. Healing the unresolved grief (original or ancient pain ) resulting from abandonment is the way to heal compulsivity. The Lord Jesus can heal your pain and set you totally free from the bondage of compulsivity! It’s written in the Holy Bible: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
John Bradshaw also believed that co-dependence is the disease of today. All addictions are rooted in co-dependence. We are co-dependent because we’ve lost our solid sense of self. In the activity addictions it is easier to see the co-dependence. Severely co-dependenct people have internalized shame and strong feelings of low-worth. Co-dependents try to make themsevles indispensable by taking care of others. They are willing to do whatever it takes to be loved or worthwhile. Co-dependents often choose professions of caretaking and financial achievement, throwing themselves into their work to the point of workaholism and burnout.
Thank the Lord that He had ever letted me to help a person who addicted herself to reading. She could not sleep but read at night compulsively and could hardly fall asleep every night. The addiction to reading books to her was the mood-altering behavior. In the process of praying, I acknowledged that the lady served as the co-dependent person in her family system, and she had internalized shame and strong feelings of low-worth about herself. Through the inner child healing and transformation, the Lord Jesus has set her free indeed! She has found her true self back. Praise the Lord!
There’s one thing for us to be aware is that we have to really deem the co-dependence as the core addictiveness. That said, without getting healed from the co-dependence, the person may not trully get rid of the addictions. As you may have known, John Bradshaw was raised at an alcoholic family. After himself was recovering from alcoholism, he was still acutely compulsive. His compulsivity was causing life-damaging consequences. He was working, buying, smoking and eating compulsively. Then he realized that he must seek further treatment for his still-addicted personality.
John Bradshaw offered the road map for the recovering. He thought the only way out of the compulsive/addictive shame cycle is to embrace the shame. That is what it means to surrender. He had also said that for him the disease (co-dependence) had to wait until he dealt with its cover-up, his alcoholism. For him, this point is crucial. He continually mentioned that for any acting-out substance abuser, the use of the substance has to be stopped before you can treat the co-dependence (the disease of the disease). Alcoholism is caused by drinking alcohol. Alcoholism is a primary disease. That means it has to be treated first. The same is true for other drugs and chemicals.
As for food, sex, work and people addictions, he thought the recovering path are somewhat different. People can’t just stop eating, drinking, sexing, working or relating to people completely. Total abstinence would bring death to self and the species. Each addiction has its own particular nuances for recovery, but there are some commonalities. One commonality is surrendering the grandiose will.
Dear friends, I wish you will ultimately learn how unhealthy rules of behavior are passed down from parents to children, and the destructive effect this process has on our society. If you’re not yet familiar with who Jesus is and how He can heal you, please take a look at my previous articles which can help you get further knowledge about it.
Next time, there will be some suggestions and follow-up offered on the topic of addictions. Fantasy bond and creative prayer will be mentioned as well. Should you have questions on the process of inner child healing and transformation, just feel free to contact me.
God bless you,
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”——Luke 3:10