Codependency and Narcissists: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (Part I)

Dr. Anne Brown
2 min readMar 4, 2021

For this discussion, we are going to stick with our understanding of codependency as a system of distortions that exists on a continuum. Codependents learn personality traits that interfere with knowing one’s self and others. The people-pleasing aspect of codependency might drive the ignoring of who we are trying to please. The focus of wanting approval may keep us from acknowledging abusive behaviors coming from the very person whose approval we seek. The need for harmony might prevent us from realizing we are enabling abusive behavior. Or any combination of the above. We don’t have the tools to deal with abusive behavior, so this also drives us to avoid bringing it to consciousness. And we probably have a history of being abused or exploited, so it feels familiar.

What do we have now? Green light for perpetrators. When we have a society of codependents, they become a magnet for the narcissists of the world.

Now let’s look at a working definition for Narcissist. Three significant distinctions of the narcissist are grandiosity, seeking excessive attention, and lack of empathy. A book I recommend often, Why is it Always About You: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss, can shed some light on the challenges of the narcissist. I think, for our discussion, it would be interesting to look at these sins:

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