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Excerpted from Homecoming by John Bradshaw. Copyright 1990 by John Bradshaw. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"To be codependent is to be out of touch with one's feelings, needs, and desires."

John Bradshaw, Homecoming, Part 4


I define co-dependence as a dis-ease characterized by a loss of identity. To be codependent is to be out of touch with one's feelings, needs, and desires. Consider the following examples:

Pervilia listens to her boyfriend talk about his distress at work. She cannot sleep that night because she is fretting about his problem. She feels his feeling rather than her own.

When Maxmillian's girlfriend ends their six-month relationship, he feels suicidal. He believes that his worth depends on her loving him. Maxmillian truly has no self-worth, which is engendered from within; he has others-worth, which depends on other people.

Jolisha is asked by her jock husband if she wants to go out for the evening. She is wishy-washy and finally says yes. He asks where she wants to go. She says it doesn't matter. He takes her to the Viking Barbecue Stand and to see the movie The Return of the Ax Murderer. She hates the whole evening. She pouts and withdraws from him for a week. When he asks, "What's the matter?" she answers, "Nothing."

Jolisha is a "sweetheart." Everyone comments on how nice she is. Actually, she only pretends to be nice. She is continually in an act. For Jolisha, being nice is a false self. She's unaware of what she really needs or wants. She is unaware of her own identity.

Jacobi is 52 years old. He comes to counseling because he has been in an affair with his 26-year-old secretary for two months. Jacobi tells me he doesn't know how this happened! Jacobi is an elder in his church and a revered member of the Committee to Preserve Morality. He led the fight to clean up pornography in his city. Actually, Jacobi is in a religious "act." He is completely out of touch with his sexual drive. After years of active repression, his sex drive has taken over.

Biscayne takes his wife's weight problem personally. He has greatly curtailed their social life because he is embarrassed to have his friends see his wife. Biscayne has no sense of where he ends and his wife begins. He believes his manhood will be judged by how his wife looks.

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