By Terence T. Gorski

People with care taking personalities are especially vulnerable to Codependence. The primary symptoms they experience are:

(1) A normal unconditional love with a partner, child or other family member that is incorporated as a part of self-identity;

(2) Repeated attempts and failures to help “their addict” as the symptoms of addiction progress;

(3) Continuous exposure to the addicts denial, distortion of personal history, and blaming the codependent for all problems and failures.

(4) Compulsive over-involvement in helping “their addict” as a means of establishing self-identity;

(5) Excessive caretaking behavior that results in a lack of self-care;

(6) the loss of self-identity and establishing self-worth based upon their ability to help “their addict.”

(7) Most codependent people privately feel guilty, ashamed, inadequate but wear a mask of being in control as they cover up the problems caused by the behavior of “their addict.”

(8) The mistaken belief that all their pain and problems will go away when “their addict” stops drinking and drugging and goes back to being the way they were.

Guy Lamunyon asked Mother Teresa would be considered an extreme codependent?

My answer to that question is that it all depends on definitions and culture-based interpretations.

Most Saints could be classified as mentally ill if only a small set of their behaviors were considered and their intent and outcome of their behavior was not taken into account.

Mother Teresa never had sex, believed, as other Nuns, that she was married to Jesus on a deep spiritual level, and abandoned her family to go work in a foreign and impoverished country. These could be seen as saintly characteristics or as behavior motivated by psychological problems.

The main issue, however, would be if she lost her personal identity and developed serious health and life problems as a result of helping others and whether her efforts to help were generally effective.

I don’t use diagnostic criteria to judge. I try to use diagnostic labels and criteria as s guide to help people figure out what is happening in their lives that is causing unnecessary pain and problems and learn ways to manage their lives more effectively.

A hallmark of the codependent style of helping is that it doesn’t work and often allows problems to get worse. It also means the the source of self-worth is based upon trying and constantly failing to help others while actually enabling their problems to get worse.

I understand that Mother Teresa built and participated in a well run organization, was a leader who effectively participated in that organization. She could set boundaries when appropriate to protect herself, her team, and her mission.
Her source of self-worth was on her relationship with God.

All great people who push the edge of human and cultural consciousness suffer from some form of mental disorder. See the book Touched By Fire –



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