Semantics Game (It’s All The Same): Trauma Bonding, Codependency, People Pleasing, ‘Push Over,’ Doormat, Nice Girl Syndrome, S.L.D.D.
I see a lot of sharp disagreement among therapists or survivors of abuse online about terminology.
There is a lot of pointless bickering about what to refer to this or that type of person, attitudes, assumptions, coping skills, or behavior, or set of behaviors.
One therapist says in his videos about relationships that in the past few years, a lot of people began using the word “codependent” or “codependency” in a derogatory manner – it’s used as an insult.
Self Love Deficiency
That particular therapist, a Ross Rosenberg, coined the terms and phrases SLD and SLDD to use, rather than use “Codependency” and “Codependent.”
Rosenberg has a web site about all this called Self Love Recovery Institute.
Rosenberg is open to the word “codependency” but likes to refer to it as “Self Love Deficit Disorder,” or to say that being self-love deficient is at the root of codependency:
Introduction to Self-Love Deficit Disorder and Self-Love Abundance
People find themselves chronically in unhealthy and unbalanced relationships, where they give most of the love, respect, and care; only to receive nothing in return. Despite the pain, they stay in this unhappy and toxic dance, because they are afraid of feeling the intense shame and pathological loneliness that will arise if they leave.
Often this has been called codependency, however a more appropriate name is Self-Love Deficit Disorder or SLDD. On the SLDD pyramid, codependency is a mere symptom of not loving oneself. Codependency is not what needs to be treated, rather the root cause needs to be addressed.
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This same guy, Rosenberg, also wrote a book about how and why codependents often end up marrying pathological narcissists, and he titled his book “The Human Magnet Syndrome,” so I take it one could even, based on this, start referring to super passive, boundary-less people who tend to repeatedly attract abusive people to them, as “Human Magnets.”
Other objections I’ve seen about use of the word or concept of “codependency” includes…
There are many, many authors out there on the internet who believe that codependency “pathologizes” normal, caring, giving behavior, or that it “victim blames” women abuse victims and lets male abusers off the hook for their behavior – when it does no such thing (but that may be a topic for another, separate post).
Codependency is Not Sexist, Nor Does The Concept Pathologize Normal, Caring Behavior
By the way, let me pause here to say: it’s an absolute strawman argument to suggest that the term or concept of Codependency pathologizes or “gives a bad name” to normal, loving, empathetic, care-giving behavior.
That there may be some individuals out there who read books about codependency and mistakenly conclude,
“Oh wow, I now realize I never, ever have to care about other people ever again! I can always put me first all the time, and never show care or concern for another person ever! I can be totally selfish!,”
does NOT invalidate the concept or the word.
Nobody (sane) who agrees with the term or concept of Codependency, such as myself, is arguing that every one should stop having any and all empathy for other people or should stop doing nice, kind gestures for other people.
Codependency is a form of pathological caring, pathological empathy – it’s doing too much, it’s caring too much; it is an individual’s becoming too focused and too wrapped up in other people and always trying to fix or rescue the hurting, or to try to fix every problem in the lives of their family and friends.
Codependency properly understood is an OVER-ABUNDANCE of caring, and of being overly focused outside of one’s self on other people, that becomes unhealthy.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being excessive and 1 being quite low, many codependents would rate at a ten or higher at trying to solve other people’s problems, and only thinking of other people!
To get totally lost in another person and that other person’s problems and life is not normal or healthy. Codependents get so consumed in pleasing or trying to rescue other people, they don’t stop to think on what THEY want in their own life, nor do they stop and work out their own identity.
So, nobody who supports the concept of codependency is telling other people to stop helping hurting people – but there is a limit at which your help ceases to be helpful and becomes harmful or enabling.
People who agree with the concept of Codependency are not sitting around encouraging people to behave like selfish, self-absorbed jackasses all the time.
If you’ve been in a relationship with a selfish jackass who used “codependency” as an excuse, I am sorry that was your personal experience, but your mother’s, your boss’s, ex- spouse’s, or ex- friend’s co-opt of the term to mis-use it to excuse their selfishness does not invalidate it.
(And your ex- spouse, boss, ex- friend, whomever it was, was probably a text book case Narcissist who was inaccurately or falsely claiming to be Codependent to get away with their lousy behavior.)
Still other mental health professionals claim that the word “codependency” is much too broad.
Cry For Justice Blog’s Barbara Roberts
I’ve seen Barbara Roberts at A Cry for Justice blog (blog pertaining to domestic violence from a Christian perspective) pitch a fit about my use of the word “Codependency” (or discussing the concept) back when I used to post to her blog, because she once read a book by some psychologist or someone who claims that the term “pathologizes” abuse victims.
People like Roberts will go on to prefer to use the phrase “trauma bonding” which has seemingly become trendy in the last few years.
(Note, I do not recall if Roberts herself specifically uses that term or approves of it; but I am saying that I’ve seen others who object to the term “codependent” prefer to use the term “trauma bonding” – she may or may not be one of those, I am unsure.)
In this post at her blog, Roberts writes:
Of course, a victim-survivor is free to say about herself “I was lacking in certain qualities / skills / discernment / character traits.” …or… “I was enabling my abuser.” It’s fine if you want to speak that way about yourself; but please don’t speak that way about other victims.
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I’ve actually written a blog post responding to Roberts’ blind spots and double standards before:
ACFJ Blog’s Hennessy Domestic Violence Series: Yes, Codependency Makes An Appearance
I can and will speak this way about other victims – because it’s true.
What I have said at your blog before, and what I continue to say here at my blog, Ms. Roberts, is accurate and true.
Roberts actually promotes the views and work of other authors at her blog that she feels helps domestic violence victims, but those authors she gives the “stamp of approval” to are all saying the same things I’ve said on my blog and which I said at her blog.
The only difference is that those “Roberts-approved” authors do not use the word “codependency.” I refer you again to this former post at my blog for an example of what I mean.