While being a Highly Sensitive Person and being Codependent
both have connections to chaos and addiction, they are different. I reject the pop-psych label of codependency because I think it is an illusion. There are better ways to discuss unhealthy behavior. For example, one could say “Rivka, you’re seeking validation from others.” or “Rivka, you’re putting his needs before your own.” I never finished reading the self-help book I bought about codependency because only one-fifth of the behaviors seemed applicable to me. I scored especially badly in the compliance and control behaviors. Which is to say, I want to be needed and I want to be right! However, I scored zero points in avoidance. I do not avoid emotional, physical or sexual intimacy. I do not avoid feeling vulnerable. I do not withhold expressions of appreciation. I also scored low in denial. I do not lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others. I do not project more than the average person. I do not mask my pain. Clearly, codependency as a group of behaviors is not very accurate, and therefore, not very useful. Hence, I reject it. In my opinion, codependency is an illusion that leads people away from recovery, primarily because they are distracted by a false science.
While codependency is a group of behaviors, HSP is a group of characteristics or qualities that make one person different from another. Being Highly Sensitive includes:
According to HSP pioneer, Dr. Elaine Aron, about 20% of the population is a Highly Sensitive Person. (I assume she means North America.) That means about 80% of the population does not have this group of characteristics that differentiate one person from another.
I see common elements to the idea of being codependent. For example, an HSP is unusually concerned with other people’s needs and/or feelings. An HSP is overly sensitive to the well-being of others. An HSP may be seeking validation that they are not so different from others (when, in fact, they are). An HSP may demand reciprocity, asking for equal attention from people who are not capable of sensory detail.
I have a hypothesis that perhaps alcohol damages sperm, which then damages the developing central nervous system. This would explain why alcoholism and hypersensitivity coexist in families that are struggling with addiction. Clearly, Highly Sensitive People were born that way. It is not a condition that develops later in life, but rather can be identified even in infants because they have stressful responses to objects, people or situations that are “too much” for their sensitivities – and they don’t grow out of it.
It seems to me that the central concern is whether or not being a Highly Sensitive Person causes one to get involved in unhealthy relationships. My feeling is that my overly-loving qualities are Superskills
if and when I choose a healthy partner. However, if I choose to emotionally invest myself with an unhealthy partner, those same sensitivities will condemn me to trauma-bonding.
“HSP vs. Codependent.” is copyright © 2015 by 18mitzvot. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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