Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 505–526 | Cite as

Codependency: An Empirical Study from a Systemic Perspective

  • James Cullen
  • Alan Carr


To empirically investigate the construct validity of codependency, differences between young adults on a measure of codependency on theoretically relevant variables were examined. Compared with individuals who scored low on codependency, those who obtained high scores reported significantly more family of origin difficulties and parental mental health problems, problematic intimate relationships including relationships with chemically dependent partners, and personal psychological problems including compulsivity. Contrary to prevailing theoretical predictions the high codependency group did not contain more individuals whose parents had alcohol or drug abuse problems, or a higher level of childhood physical or sexual abuse. These results suggest that co-dependency is one aspect of wider multigenerational family systems problems which are not unique to families where drug and alcohol abuse or physical and sexual abuse are major concerns.

codependency substance abuse family of origin 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Cullen
    • 1
  • Alan Carr
    • 2
  1. 1.Western Health BoardBallinsaloe, County GalwayIreland
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Science BuildingUniversity College Dublin, BelfieldDublinIreland

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