What Is Counter-Dependency?

What Is Counter-Dependency?

It is very common for people in addiction recovery communities to talk about codependency. This is a behavioral syndrome caused by proximity to the addiction or mental health disorders of a loved one. The manifestations of codependency include clinginess, constant justification and protection, and enabling the addict to continue functioning under the control of the disease. Codependency is an increasingly well-understood disorder with a range of clearly defined treatment options. Fewer understand the corresponding disorder known clinically as counter-dependency. While in many ways it functions as the opposite of codependency, its causes are quite similar.

Counter-Dependency Symptoms

Whereas codependent people tend to be extremely needy and insecure, counter-dependent people effectively hide their emotional pain under a veneer of self-discipline, independence, and confidence. Beneath this surface, however, these people are often deeply insecure, fearful, and frequently full of self-loathing.

The following are some of the most common symptoms of counter-dependence:

  • Shutting out others relationally
  • Hiding feelings
  • Self-absorption
  • Domineering personality
  • A need to know-it-all
  • Compulsive regarding activities, interests, work, hobbies, etc.
  • Builds walls against others
  • Argumentative
  • Sexual predation or exploitation
  • Emotionally cold or disconnected
  • Projection of power, strength, or confidence
  • Prone to manic episodes and risky behaviors

Counter-dependency is often a result of neglect or abuse experienced in early childhood. Young children, especially in the first few years of life, need to feel cared for and cherished. When these children are left on their own or exposed to trauma, loss, neglect, or risk, they learn to protect themselves and to trust no one. While these people tend to seem very together and mature at a young age, the truth is that most of those things are mere projections. On a deeper level counter-dependent people hurt deeply and then hurt others inadvertently. It is difficult for such a person to become aware of his own shortcomings or issues because of the psychological barriers he builds against vulnerability.

Risks of Untreated Counter-Dependency

While counter-dependent people tend to be high achievers professionally, there are many risks of functioning under these conditions. These people are at risk for loneliness, depression, mania, self-harm, and their own forms of substance abuse and neglect of others. Alcohol and drug abuse often become short-term forms of self-medication for these people. When addiction develops it can be especially difficult for counter-dependent people to seek or receive help as they are so habitually committed to projecting independence and personal strength.

Treating Counter-Dependency Effectively

Counter-dependence is treated through talk therapy in both personal and group settings. The challenge for counter-dependent people is to learn to let their walls down and experience true vulnerability, interpersonal transparency, and community. These individuals must come to understand the nature and value of intimacy – especially as it relates to surrendering personal control. Intimacy, in fact, is the critical human experience these people were denied as children. The goal of the most effective counter-dependency treatment programs is to help their clients become aware of their need for intimacy, and to learn to trust others relationally. This can take a significant amount of time. In many cases there are other related issues that must also be addressed alongside counter-dependency, including the following:

  • Anger management issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Sociopathic tendencies
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Relational self-destruction

The most effective programs understand that counter-dependency is similar to other psychological issues related to childhood trauma .

24 Hour Counter-Dependency Helpline

If you would like more information about counter-dependency please call our toll-free helpline right now. Our staff members are standing by 24 hours a day with free, confidential, advice and answers. If you require substance abuse treatment we can connect you with top-quality programs that understand how your counter-dependent issues are involved in your other struggles. It might be hard to believe, but we have experience helping people just like you find new ways to live and to love.

If you’ve been building a façade of goodness and perfection, and have worked hard to stay independent and free of any need for others you are missing out on a huge part of what life is all about. That kind of independence is dysfunctional and dangerous. We can help you come to grips with your past and to understand the ways your childhood has shaped who you are today. We can also help you learn to rise above these wounds into a place of healing and peace. Every human being needs to love and to be loved. You will not experience true happiness, joy, and freedom until you find that kind of healing. We can help.

There are no strings attached when you call. You don’t even have to tell us your name. You have nothing to lose. Call us right now and let us help you learn to understand yourself more deeply so that you can begin to overcome this crippling condition. Call now.