Over the past two years we have been training and speaking with addiction professionals around the country in an effort to rethink how the addiction field can provide effective treatment services for men. Our work, with a strong emphasis on how men navigate relationships, already had us thinking about the idea of male codependency. When we were invited to speak last April at a conference sponsored by the Indiana Association of Addiction Professionals on the issue of male codependency, it required us to flesh out a framework for our emergent ideas.
In this article we offer a brief description of this concept, with the primary interest of generating dialogue and inquiry into how addiction professionals might think differently about men and codependency. We propose the following for consideration:
· The traditional notion of codependency pathologizes behavior that is intrinsically human and even healthy at times.
· Codependency can be viewed as existing on a continuum of relational behavior.
· Men engage in codependent behavior as frequently as women do.
· Codependency manifests differently according to gender and is a product of gender-based socialization.
· The masculine expression of codependency may include dominating and violent behavior, which is a compensation for shame and lack of relational skills.