Customer Review

18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but beware the unstated biases, 21 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself (Paperback)
I read this book because I frequently observed in one of my friends the worst excesses a control freak might visit on others and themselves, and I wanted to understand what might underlie this behaviour. Beattie's writing is certainly informative, and even helped me to observe the (relatively minor) control-freakery in my own behaviour. I have no problem understanding how this book can be valuable to those who are co-dependents and unhappy. However, I also feel that Beattie has not entirely disentangled all the aspects of her condition, and the lack of perspective on occasion can be dangerous. For example, she states that co-dependent women tend to be extremely angry people, and that that isn't surprising given what they've experienced (and by this, she means the unhealthy relationships that lead them to therapy). But it would be more honest to admit that the anger existed long before the relationships, that it informs every aspect of many co-dependents' behaviour. My own experience was of someone who was continually, unremittingly angry at *something* - anything - with that anger only suppressed (not absent) to varying degrees in daily life; she seemed to seek out things to be angry about, and they were almost always things that she felt were either 'wrong' (i.e. not done her way) or things that could be construed as a personal attack on her (which they seldom were). Excusing an aspect of a condition by blaming others is a way of enabling it, and this is what Beattie is essentially doing. She also uses the book as a platform for a polemic on alcoholics, but it is only late in the book that she reveals that she personally has been affected by them, and that her anger stems from that experience. Towards the end of the book, she states "I hate alcoholism" - which is, of course, perfectly fair - but up to that point she is less balanced, attacking the behaviour of alcoholic individuals (which is shooting fish in a barrel, really). If her stance is that co-dependency is a condition which requires understanding, then presumably she should be even-handed enough to take the same view of alcoholism and other addictions, but - once again - she enables the co-dependent by placing an emphasis not on them but on the behaviour of others. Having said this, if you are a suffering individual seeking help, then a certain amount of 'preaching to the choir' can be supportive; just be aware that that's what's happening and that the central problem is not the behaviour of other people, no matter how awful it might have been.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Sep 2012 01:13:03 BDT
what a well-thought out and helpful perspective. Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Jan 2013 23:53:05 GMT
jude says:
Couldn't agree more....thank you
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