Earlier today I spent time (my entire morning!) writing out ideas on current social dynamics. I suggested we have a lot of active “co-dependency” in general social behavior. What is posted here is “effort #2” based on morning explorations.
Hallmark behaviors of co-dependency are making excuses on behalf of another rather than confronting the person, which can be a respectful but firm challenge to their behavior. We have witnessed the following at the social/political level: people in positions of power making excuses for one another’s sometimes clearly corrupt behavior; citizens raising no questions while unjustifiable war is initiated; and supporters of “a market economy” justifying and/or excusing outrageous profit by Mega-Corporations.
Justification and excuse making in co-dependent relationship ordinarily are seen as “family affairs”: One spouse denies or excuses addictions and abusive behavior of the other. What’s really going on in “co-dependent behavior” is self-protection by protecting a relationship which, for whatever reason, someone values more than they value themselves or the other person.
This may sound harsh, but it’s what is meant by ‘co-dependent’ behavior. IF – the thinking goes, genuine care was felt for the other, in a mature form, then each would want the other to grow past any need to belittle, need to manipulate, or need to play the martyr. The co-dependent relationship remains co-dependent until both are ready to mature, or one is ready and leaves.
Co-dependency describes a sort of “unholy alliance” in which both agree to allow excesses of one another, or one agrees to be belittled by the other, in order that neither has to “face whatever is out there outside this relationship”. Often, even in marriages, or intimate partnerships,“material comfort” plays a big role in co-dependent practices.
Another angle, also related to material or economic, comfort and security, is employee to boss relationship. (This one can be very real! How many employees might “cover” for a boss’s mistakes, or take a fall? Not many of us want to challenge an employer, even if she/he is “out of line”! This is why unions developed!)
And still another co-dependent type behavior is citizen to “famed and/or powerful, economic/political leadership”. Worth considering as an angle of attitudes of groups (made of individuals) in relationship with those who appear to have power, especially greater power. Or who might be able, by association, to “bestow” power and/or fame on those who feel lesser power.
In my writing this morning, also I explored “rugged individualism”. It’s an imperfectly balanced approach to life, as is co-dependent behavior. I found one to be a ‘flip’ of the other. Two sides of the same coin. (An exploration not discussed here.)
In all the cases I touched, the bottom line comes down to “individual power”. “Felt” power, and “felt” lack of power. Issues of personal sense of power lead straight to Alfred Adler’s work on “Individual Psychology”*. Individuals gathered together create groups which reflect issues of “power”as perceived by members of the group. (*Adler was a contemporary of Freud’s – see bibliography page)