codependency

noun
co·​de·​pen·​den·​cy | \ ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē How to pronounce codependency (audio) \

Definition of codependency

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (such as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another

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Did You Know?

Dependency on addictive substances has been known for centuries, but the concept of codependency got its name only as recently as 1979. For many of us, codependency isn't easy to understand; we may keep asking "Why doesn't she just leave him?" and find it hard to accept the answers we get. Codependents usually don't share their partners' addiction, but their lives tend to be taken over with the burden of caring for and protecting the spouse or partner. In recent years, people have started claiming that all kinds of conditions—anorexia, overeating, gambling, fear of intimacy, etc.—can result in codependency. Many experts think all of this has gone too far; still, almost everyone agrees that spouses of alcoholics and drug addicts face unique difficulties and should look for support and advice anywhere they can find it.

Examples of codependency in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Together, the pair form a portrait of codependency in the extreme; their daughters are hardly more than disappointed, disappointing interlopers in this closed union. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "The Unstable, Flickering “The Height of the Storm”," 30 Sep. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, Washington Post, "Ask Amy: Overwhelmed parent wants to mend broken family," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, chicagotribune.com, "Ask Amy: Overwhelmed parent wants to mend broken family," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, The Mercury News, "Ask Amy: We’re trying to sell our house. Can we tell our neighbors to clean up?," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Amy Dickinson, The Denver Post, "Ask Amy: Overwhelmed parent wants to mend broken family," 5 Aug. 2019 Therapy at this point should focus on your own coping skills, as well as exploring concepts such as codependency. Ask Amy, oregonlive.com, "Ask Amy: Family exhausted trying to deal with adult daughters’ accusations and substance abuse," 5 Aug. 2019 If only the Luddites could see our codependency now. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Inside the Amazon Warehouse Where Humans and Machines Become One," 5 June 2019 So is the crazy codependency and memory-lane madness that seemed to fuel their one-of-a-kind dynamic. Gary Goldstein, latimes.com, "'That Summer' goes behind the scenes at Grey Gardens, to mixed effect," 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'codependency.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of codependency

1979, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for codependency

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The first known use of codependency was in 1979

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Cite this Entry

“Codependency.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/codependency. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for codependency

codependency

noun
co·​de·​pen·​den·​cy | \ ˌkō-di-ˈpen-dən-sē How to pronounce codependency (audio) \
variants: or co-dependency also codependence or co-dependence \ -​dən(t)s How to pronounce co-dependence (audio) \
plural codependencies

Medical Definition of codependency

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person manifesting low self-esteem and a strong desire for approval has an unhealthy attachment to another person and places the needs of that person before his or her own

Note: In codependency, a person tries to satisfy the needs of another who is often controlling or manipulative and who may have an addictive or emotionally unstable personality. broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another

More from Merriam-Webster on codependency

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about codependency

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