Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

William H. Green

Third Advisor

Nancy J. Carbonell

Abstract

Problem. Co-dependence (CODC) is described as an "incurable disease" by some practitioners in the addictions treatment business. The CODC concept developed in isolation from mainstream psychology and psychiatry and remains an unverified diagnostic category. It has been compared with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and this relationship was investigated.

Method. Representative samples of the voluminous literature on CODC and BPD were reviewed in an effort to identify commonalities. The characteristics used for comparison were the ones identified by Dr. E. G. Goldstein in Borderline Disorders: Clinical Models & Techniques (1990). Two self-report, anonymous instruments were used; one was completed by clinicians and the other by persons who self-identify as co-dependent or were so identified by a relative, friend, or counselor.

Results. Evidence of commonalities between CODC and BPD was provided by an exacting comparison of descriptions from both bodies of literature. In addition, the survey of clinicians revealed insufficient understanding of the nature and characteristics of BPD and CODC that could lead to a failure to diagnose accurately. The survey of clients provided rich evidence that many persons identified as co-dependent obtained scores on a BPD instrument higher than required to be suggestive of a diagnosis of BPD.

Conclusions. There appears to be an area of overlap between CODC and BPD. Clinicians are not taught to recognize this overlap but when they are tested on a BPD instrument, "co-dependent" persons often endorse enough items to be suggestive of a BPD diagnosis.

Subject Area

Borderline personality disorder, Codependency

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