Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives

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Pia Mellody creates a framework for identifying codependent thinking, emotions and behaviour and provides an effective approach to recovery. Mellody sets forth five primary adult symptoms of this crippling condition, then traces their origin to emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical and sexual abuses that occur in childhood. Central to Mellody's approach is the concept that the codependent adult's injured inner child needs healing. Recovery from codependence, therefore, involves clearing up the toxic emotions left over from these painful childhood experiences.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Harper & Row; 1 edition (June 14, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062505890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062505897
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces

Customer Reviews

I’m finally understanding quirks about myself

105 people found this helpful.
 on November 28, 2000
I sought counseling for depression earlier this year, and this book was recommended to me several times by my social worker. He urged me to “take it with a grain of salt,” as Ms. Mellody is very much against codependency, while my counselor does not believe that all aspects of it in all cases are all bad. Until recently, I was hesitant to do any more self-exploration than I was already doing on an almost-daily basis, but since I have started to feel better, I decided to look into this codependency theory. I am only 50 or so pages into the book, but I’m finding it difficult to put down because it seems to describe me to a T in some ways that I never thought anyone else would understand. All my life I have found most of my self-satisfaction only after ensuring that I am pleasing others. When my husband and twin sister kept telling me last year that I never seemed happy (but I never felt truly unhappy), that’s when I decided I needed to make a significant change in the way I was living my life. Basing your self-worth on what Ms. Mellody refers to as “others-esteem” (as opposed to self-esteem) is a vicious, exhausting circle. I think I intuitively figured this out over the last few months on my own with the help of my counselor, but it really makes sense hearing Ms. Mellody explain it, because she has been there, so I can identify with her explanations MUCH better than those provided by someone who doesn’t understand what it’s like to have grown up this way. I hope to convince my husband to read portions of this book, because I think it will help him to realize that my struggles are real and not so unusual after all.

A simple, unflinching introduction to a challenge for many

243 people found this helpful.
 on January 28, 2001
By Michael Guttentag
Some things said simply are more powerful thanks to their simplicity. This book provides a forceful, unflinching description of how people who are raised in a dysfunctional or abusive environment often sabotage and cripple their lives. The structure of the book is straightforward. The situations Mellody discusses are often sound sadly ordinary rather than extraordinary. But the resulting emotional resonance of this book is undeniable.

Extremely insightful in the area it covers

100 people found this helpful.
 on December 31, 2005
By David A. Bayliss
I am not an expert in this field but as far as I can tell there are at least two distinct strands of co-dependance. There is the type that is induced during adulthood by exposure to an adult addict. Then there is a form induced during childhood via what Pia describes as ‘abuse’.

Best Book Describing CoDependency

52 people found this helpful.
 on December 18, 2003
I couldn’t put this book down after reading the first 5 pages. It described my experience so vividly. I was shocked and scared.

This book changed my life – better than similar titled

52 people found this helpful.
 on March 9, 2006
By T. Stephenson
I read a lot of books with similar titles to this one. But this one is dramatically different in the sense that it (for me) correctly identified that the condition I live with is all about me… and that it lives and operates in me without having anything to do with anyone else – except that the actions of others can trigger me.

Really excellent book!

37 people found this helpful.
 on August 19, 1999
By Patience Mason, Post-Traumatic Gazette, ptg@patiencepress.com
One of the most moving parts of this book is her discussion of the “natural characteristics [of a child] that make them authentic human beings… valuable, vulnerable, imperfect, dependent and immature.” Not perfect, independent, mature, self-contained, and impervious to hurt. Imagine my surprise! Anyone from a dysfunctional family where meeting Mom & Dad’s needs was more important than the parents meeting your needs can benefit from this book. It brought up a lot of sadness for me, but it also encouraged me to begin to parent myself in healthy ways.

Read At Your Own Risk!

45 people found this helpful.
 on October 18, 2000
Read this book/listen to this tape at your own risk~Pia Mellody has written a book that WILL NOT allow you to continue to live in the comfortable wallow of your own misery. Easy listening/reading? No. Ms. Mellody asks hard questions, demands honesty, and shows you the true face of the person who looks back at you from the mirror-your own self. You cannot read this book or listen to the tape and then ignore the message. Mellody’s words stick with you like sidewalk gum on the heel of your shoe. You gotta sit down, shut up, and pay attention to what she has to say, or suffer the uncomfortable consequences of knowing that you have chosen to turn away from the truth. If you put Ms. Mellody’s philosophies into action in your own life, you WILL find the freedom to live with joy. You WILL find the path to real maturity. You WILL learn to take responsibility for yourself and your actions…and you will learn to let others take responsibility for themselves. There are hundreds of self-help books available…save your money to buy this one, and do what Pia Mellody tells you to do. It works.

Very Powerful Book

19 people found this helpful.
 on April 22, 2005
By tinydancer
This book wholeheartedly changed my life. Mellody gives a fantastic insight into the underlying causes and symptoms of codependence and how deeply it can influence a person’s life. THough worth it, this book is a difficult read; the material is indepth and can be confusing to someone who is unfamiliar with the true “roots” of codependence. It is also difficult from an emotional perspective as it will certainly drudge up any issues on the surface of one’s subconscious. Facing codependence was like opening a door to an entirely new level of my own healing process. It has helped me improve every important area of my life, especially relationships; Mellody’s insights also help the reader become very area of OTHER codependents. When I originally flipped through the book(2 or 3 years ago), I was dismayed to read that recovering from codependence can be a long (3-5 year) process. Three years later, I realize how accurate that statement is. The workbook is also very helpful, but difficult to get through since dealing with an issue of this nature is often emotionally painful. If you are truly committed to your own healing path, this book is a must.

A pragmatic tool for facing codependence.

19 people found this helpful.
 on July 20, 1998
Easy to read and easy to understand, this book (and it’s workbook, “Breaking Free”) helped me more than four years of therapy. I’ve recommended it to many of my loved ones and friends. Worth buying and keeping. A bible of recovery.

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