Have You Been Labelled CoDependent? Time Was You Might Have Been Saddled With Penis Envy

21/12/2011 15:06 GMT | Updated 19/02/2012 10:12 GMT

Few today would take seriously a suggestion that a woman unaware of how she envies the penises of men must be repressing the truth. Fewer still would agree that such an individual needs therapy designed to make her realise just how messed up she really is. There was a time, though, when all that nonsense about penis envy was taken seriously not only by members of the lay public, but by many professionals as well.

It's always easier to see through the foibles of past generations, and much harder to view one's own reality with the same critical acumen. So I ask the reader to make an effort: try to view today's codependency culture with the eyes of future generations. An admittedly imperfect exercise, such an effort can still generate a different view and, possibly, provide an opportunity to question what one has been taught. I will even offer some assistance, simply by quoting a bit from my recently published book:

"Check out a recovery session, professional, 12 Step, or other. You might hear a lot of this: I, me, work on myself, love myself, speak from the I, all I have to share is my experience, validate myself, help myself before I can help others, I can't love you because I must first learn to love myself. Apparently, the process is geared to helping people become less self-centered."

Hmm...Possessing the keen critical eye of someone from the future, you might now wish to ask yourself how any generation could be so daft. Now please return to your normal (contemporary) state of mind, think about how penis envy was once in vogue, and try not to judge your contemporaries too harshly. Every generation has its quirks, and there was a time when people burned witches. Today, instead, we torment women with psychobabble - a much more humane approach to stupidity.

The codependency movement is part and parcel of a cultural shift hostile to any kind of dependence. Yet people have always depended on each other, for reasons ranging from economics and protection to love and recognition. What we have in place is a culture of independence that is simply unreal. If you are native to Britain or the US, think of some of the immigrants you know. The way they might stick together would be deemed pathological by many recovery gurus. In fact, all forms of traditional kinship could easily be dubbed codependent.

In place today is a movement that pathologises perfectly normal relationships (it's normal for people to take care of each other). So if you don't "realise" how messed up and codependent you are, there are plenty of therapists and support groups ready to mess up your mind (and your life). When you hear that over 95% of westerners are codependent, consider how the figure can be achieved: an admission of codependency is taken as proof, but so is denial (because all codependents are subject to "denial"). Strange how the figure is only 95%.

Here is a suggestion from Dr. Pete himself: if people try to tell you about your codependency, offer to help those poor souls - male and female - to deal with the penis envy from which they undoubtedly suffer.