Codependency? Who has the problem?


Who has actually a problem? 8 hour train-trip to Italy……  Beautiful landscape, lovely lecture, coffee in the bar…. A lady starts telling her story and I can’t help to tell mine: “I must have a beer now to tranquilize. You see, I don’t drink any alcohol, but now I need to relax” she goes and talks about serious family issues starting with death of a loved one and further consequences mainly for her daughter who right now experienced a quite unpleasant and frightening situation in the train. I could see the lady feeling helpless with too much weight on her shoulders, trying to help her daughter and prevent her from further pain or problems. Somehow I tell her about our psychosomatic team on Majorca and the successful treatment there. I also tell her, that she is probably “at risk” as well, since she might be stuck in trying to fix her daughter’s problem. She might look up the “10-step-program” for groups like codependents and family members of people with some kind of serious trouble. As we return to the wagon, I finally get to see her beautiful 30-year-old daughter packing up to leave the train as they got off there. And I could see the dynamic of the family system: the mother telling her daughter to pack up, her daughter reacting a little harsh since she obviously felt a bit offended or maybe not taken serious. A system out of balance, very sad, since both probably suffered from the situation and none could get out of it without proper assistance. This situation reminded me to the some stories I listened to during postgraduate education on psychosomatic treatment for Physicians: we need to be aware that the expression of a symptom in a child may be the result of a problem in the social system. In other words: children may suffer from a health issues due to a family problem. Partners may suffer from somatic problems, which originate from their partner’s unsolved issues. The question is not: who is guilty but how are we connected and how can we balance the system pack into a healthy state.


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