Evidence of Codependency in Women With an Alcoholic Parent: Helping Out Mr. Wrong

Deborah Lyon, Jeff Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


A conceptualization of codependency and its development, which is based largely on the writings of Karen Horney, is presented. It is proposed that having learned to obtain approval and self-esteem by conforming to the demands of an exploitive person, women with alcoholic parents will continue to seek opportunities to help such people. On the basis of this analysis, it was hypothesized that women with alcoholic parents would be more helpful to an experimenter portrayed as exploitive than to one portrayed as nurturant; women with nonalcoholic parents were expected to exhibit the opposite pattern. The results strongly supported the existence of codependent behavior in the women with alcoholic parents. The implication of these findings and directions for future research were briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-439
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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