Codependency and Pathological Altruism

Michael McGrath and Barbara Oakley

in Pathological Altruism

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199738571
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918669 | DOI:
Codependency and Pathological Altruism

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Pathological altruism is a construct describing the willingness of an individual to place the needs of others above him- or herself to the point of causing harm, whether physical, psychological, or both, to the purported altruist. Codependency can be viewed as a form of pathological altruism. The study of codependency has been hampered by limited agreement as to what it is, whether it even exists, and a lack of validated psychometric instruments to study it. This chapter suggests codependency is best viewed as a behavior and not a diagnosis, facilitated by the inability to tolerate negative affect. This chapter will review the concept of codependency, comment on its roots in empathy and altruism, explore its potential neurobiological, genetic, and evolutionary basis, and make suggestions for future research.

Keywords: codependency; evolutionary; negative affect; neurobiological; pathological altruism

Chapter.  12925 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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