Dependent Personality Disorder - Perth Psychology Clinic

Dependent Personality Disorder

COPE Centre Can Help You With Dependent Personality Disorder

What is Dependent Personality Disorder?

People with Dependent Personality Disorder have excessive dependent needs towards others. They find it difficult to leave “exploitative” or “abusive” relationships. They have been called “self-defeating” or “masochistic”. People with dependent personality disorders define themselves in the context of their relationships with others. They also seek security and reassurance from others (example – ‘I am okay if my husband is too’). 

How Does Dependent Personality Disorder Come About?

This personality may originate from protective and/or authoritarian parenting, as well as cultural attitudes regarding achievement vs relatedness.

Symptoms – What Does It Look Like? 

  • a pervasive pattern of dependent and submissive behavior.

  • cannot make decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others.

  • more common in women than in men.

  • a variant of dependent personality disorder is passive-aggressive personality disorder in which relationships are marked by hostile dependency.

  • pessimism, self-doubt, passivity, and fears of expressing sexual and aggressive feelings all typify the behavior.

  • an abusive, unfaithful, or alcoholic spouse may be tolerated for long periods to avoid disturbing the sense of attachment. 

Therapy and Dependent Personality Disorder

  • Respect their feelings of attachment.

  • Be careful when encouraging a patient to change the dynamics of an abusive relationship.

  • When medically ill they may become frustrated that they are not receiving help.

  • Be active in the treatment planning.

  • There is a continuum from maladaptive dependency (submissiveness), through healthy interdependency (connectedness) to inflexible independency (unconnected detachment).

  • Often Dependent Personality Disorder may be secretively dependent on a substance, a partner, a mentor, an ideology. Some tend to be “medically ill” which provides a “legitimate” reason to be cared by others.