A Desire to be Needed by Your “Important Person”: The Ethics of Codependence
I have met many codependent persons in my life. Since some of them are important to me, I come to have a keen desire to solve the issue. I still cannot forget my emotion when I saw a person who had suffered from codependence free himself/herself from the agony through the recovery theories. At first, I thought that codependent persons should recover from codependence while depending on others to some extent so that they can become independent/autonomous. The reason I thought so originated from my actual feeling that codependence not only brings codependent persons suffering but hurts their relevant people. However, I gradually came to realize that such thought itself brings some codependent persons suffering and hurts them.
I reached a deadlock regarding medical care and assistance codependent persons receive, and I found myself in the world of academia, conducting research on codependence. Clinical knowledge concerning medical care and support exists to assist persons to “recover” from pathology in many cases. Given various circumstances in the modern society, it is possible to insist that support should aim at recovery. However, I wanted to help someone by finding something which was different from it.
I earned a PhD through the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences at Ritsumeikan University. Based on my doctoral dissertation submitted, I published The Ethics of Codependence: People who Desire to Be Needed (Koyo Shobo) in 2017. In this book, I clarified that there is an underlying ethical view which preaches a desirable way in the relationship behind the background of the concept of codependence. It is often told that codependence is the “disease of lost selfhood” which requires recovery and codependent persons are sufferers who live their lives as a “false self.” Also persons in a codependent relationship are considered as those who assume “false love” as “true love” and hide from reality. However, there are not a few persons who find out the “truth” in a codependent way of living. Some codependent persons find out the “affirmation” in their tragic lives and look at “happiness” in “unhappiness” by rejecting the “improvement” of their current condition through treatment or intervention of others, or even without assuming such things. Some people insist that the codependent way is the form of happiness. In my book I affirmed persons who choose a way of living of codependence and presented the “ethics (ethos)” clinical professionals or theorists in each area of research have overlooked or denied. For me, affirmation of codependence means just providing words for what I have seen in my involvement with codependent persons. However, verbalizing this was a difficult work as it was hardly mentioned, or I felt as if were not allowed to mention it.
It seems that many of the codependent persons I affirm (persons who fulfill the way of living of codependence) prefer not to speak out their own opinions. However, I feel that “speaking for” them through research is very intrusive. I think that I just have a desire to “save such persons,” and look for that ways. The publication of this book enabled me to have feedback from some codependent persons that they “felt relieved” through my work. This expression leads me to conduct research. My research on codependence is supported by codependent persons and is built upon the codependent relationship with them.
Since AY 2016 I have been involved in some specific self-help groups and psychiatrists, which enabled me to start more practical research. So far I have conducted research with emphasis on listening to codependent persons. From now on, however, I would like to fulfill my work as a researcher by taking a comprehensive look at clinical professionals, family members of addict persons, and social policies etc.