The essential characteristic of individuals with Dependent Personality Disorder is dependent and submissive behaviour aimed at finding someone to protect and care for them. It arises from a consideration of oneself as fundamentally inadequate and defenceless and therefore unable to face the world only with one’s own strength ( low self-esteem ). So, What is the dependent personality disorder?

Dependent Disorder

Individuals with dependent personality disorder are unable to make daily decisions unless they have an inordinate amount of advice and reassurance from others. Leaving the responsibility to make decisions for their lives to others, while relieving the anxiety that each decision brings with it, fosters a position of submission within the relationship with the other.

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Patients with dependent personality disorder feel upset and helpless when their intimate relationships end due to an exaggerated fear of being unable to take care of themselves. It hurts them to be frowned upon, they tend to submit to others and would do anything to please others. In order to ward off abandonment by the people they depend on, they agree on what they feel is wrong rather than express a disagreement.

Hard to move on

People with dependent disorder have difficulty starting projects or doing things on their own. These people wait for others to start as they believe that as a rule others do better. They lack self-confidence and tend to belittle some of their skills and strengths. They thus tend to trust blindly and faithfully rely on others, anticipating that their efforts will be rewarded with affection and protection.

Generally, those who suffer from dependent personality disorder choose partners with strong characters, sometimes narcissistic, who assume dominant and controlling attitudes towards them. This relational imbalance, in the long run, while constituting a semblance of equilibrium, harms the dependent subject, who sacrifices himself in relation to the relationship and who, paradoxically, often ends up being discharged, as not sufficiently stimulating and worthy of esteem for the partner’s eyes.

Dependent personality disorder, if diagnosed, benefits from medium to long-term cognitive-behavioural psychotherapeutic treatments (from 1 to 2 years), which focus on the acquisition of self-confidence, on the progressive autonomy of the subject from interpersonal relationships and on becoming aware of their individual needs, which these people often struggle to recognize and, above all, to affirm.

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Treatment of Dependent Personality Disorder

Experts recommend psychotherapy as the primary cure for dependent personality disorder. The goals of therapy will be patient independence and the development of social, emotional and behavioural skills. The shorter therapies are generally preferred to long-term therapies since the latter could intensify the dependence on the therapist and a state of strong anxiety in the patient when the therapy is ended and the relationship must be severed. For this reason the therapist should be aware of this functioning and take preventive measures against its occurrence.

These types of patients, especially with the initiation of therapy, tend to be so cooperative that they create expectations in the therapist that treatment will be easy and short-lived. But this is not the case and the therapist will notice when these patients cling to therapy and ask for additional sessions and telephone availability, resisting encouragement efforts towards a more independent life. Helping patients to achieve autonomy therefore represents the real challenge of the treatment.

To help them along this path it is necessary for the person to learn to separate from other significant figures (including the therapist) and increase self-confidence and the feeling of self-efficacy. This work must be done gradually and with some delicacy. The collaborative approach typical of cognitive-behavioural therapy can be used to encourage patients to take a more active role.

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