Friday, March 21, 2008

co-dependency vs caregiving

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to today's WORD Wrestling Federation knock-down match! 
   In one corner “Co-Dependency” represented by Mental Health America and in the other corner “Caregiving” represented by Dr. Robert Westermeyer … 

“CO-DEPENDENCY” by Mental Health America
“Co-dependency is a learned behavior … patterns have been seen in people in relationships with chronically or mentally ill individuals.

… family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. They become “survivors.” They develop behaviors that help them deny, ignore, or avoid difficult emotions. They detach themselves. They don’t talk. They don’t touch. They don’t confront. They don’t feel. They don’t trust.

Attention and energy focus on the family member who is ill ... The co-dependent person typically sacrifices his or her needs to take care of a person who is sick.

They have good intentions. They try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating.” 

“Caregiving is not enabling. Caregiving is fueled by the capacity to experience empathy and the desire to make the lives of our intimates more happy. … 

Victimhood, though stylish these days, creates a distraction …codependency authors who believe that relationships should be fair … are living on Fantasy Island. 

Caring is good. Some people care more than others, and caring often endures despite inequity. Thankfully, we live in a world in which caring can shower itself on the good, bad and ugly. Sometimes this results in imbalance. Imbalance is not necessarily bad, and to deem it so would require us to reckon the most altruistic individuals in history as flawed. 

... Maybe it's okay to "care too much." 

In my experience as a Multiple Sclerosis spouse caregiver, yes there is collateral damage to families, marriages, and relationships. Yet there is also positive personal changes, priority changes, and enhanced and unique family relationships. 
   Perhaps it’s best to paraphrase the master wordsmith, William Shakespeare: 
"Be not afraid of caregiving: some are born to care, some achieve caring, and most have caregiving thrust upon 'em."

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 


  1. those first two sound like "feel good philosophy" New Ageism to me; William Shakespeare said it the best of the 3; wonder if those 2 ever were caregivers; to write about caregiving, one has to experience caregiving in my humble opinion; that is why your words written about it speak the truth far more than any mumble jumble from the "experts"

    may you, Patti and Megan have a Happy Easter :)


  2. Westermeyers comments on caregiving 'survivorship' are interesting to me. I have experienced all those during the course of caregiving of Charlie. Many times, the negative emotions occurred when I felt sorry for myself.  I do think that anyone who is in a daily caregiving position experiences those emotions because it is human nature. Hopefully, just not all at once!!

    Bill's viewpoint is right on target. He did have a remarkable insight to humans and their emotions....



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