Dependent Personality Disorder Defined, Plus Self-Help Tips for Healing

Dependent Personality Disorder Defined, Plus Self-Help Tips for Healing

Have you ever been told to “be more independent”, or maybe you are the one saying it to your kids, spouse, co-workers, etc.?

Have you ever heard of dependent personality disorder?

Feeling powerless, unable to care for yourself, and struggling every day with the need to be taken care of is not a good way to live.

This is how you’ll feel if you suffer from dependent personality disorder.

You may think that this type of behavior is normal. It’s not. Let’s talk about it.

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What Is Dependent Personality Disorder (DPD)?

Dependent personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people feel anxious and helpless when they are not able to be taken care of by someone else.

People with dependent personality disorder have problems in their ability to be self-sufficient, along with an excessive need to be taken care of and excessive fear of being abandoned by those they rely on.

Dependent personality disorder is sometimes confused with codependent personality disorder, but they are different conditions. Read more about dependent personality disorder vs. codependency.

Dependent Personality Disorder is on the Cluster C Spectrum.

Most of the personality disorders we dig into here are on the Cluster B spectrum. But according to the Mayo Clinic, dependent personality disorder is a Cluster C personality disorder.

“Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior,” the Mayo Clinic says. “They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.”

Dependent Personality Disorder is an Anxious Personality Disorder. 

When you first learn about DPD, you might think it’s just a formal diagnosis of codependency.

But according to the Cleveland Clinic, it’s an anxious personality disorder, and there’s a lot more to it than that.

In short, someone with DPD feels generally helpless, like they can’t take care of themselves at all.

People with dependent personality disorder may feel like they need to be around other people all the time in order to feel good about themselves. They may try to please others and avoid conflict at all costs, even if it means giving up their own needs.

It’s not unusual for people with this condition to feel like no one understands them or supports them as much as they need—and this can lead them to become depressed or anxious.

What does dependent personality disorder feel like?

You may notice that people with Dependent Personality Disorder have great difficulty initiating projects or doing things on their own (because of fear of disapproval or failure).

They need other people to assume responsibility for them, make most of their decisions, give them advice and instructions, and take care of most of the constructive action in their lives.

  • You’re highly dependent on the people around you, even relying on them to make decisions for you.
  • You need others to take care of you.
  • You are afraid to be alone and you worry that you might not be okay if you do find yourself going solo.
  • You also do whatever you can to make the people around you like you, including but not limited to not disagreeing with them, even if you’re not on the same page.
  • As with codependency, you are likely to have a fear of abandonment.
  • You wouldn’t know what to do if your partner needed you to do something for them.
  • You wouldn’t be likely to tolerate excessive emotional, psychological, or physical abuse in order to maintain the relationship as someone who is codependent might.
  • People with DPD sometimes act helpless and refuse to handle their adult responsibilities, preferring to have them taken care of by someone else.
  • With DPD, you aren’t likely to speak up for yourself and you might avoid arguments by agreeing with others even if you secretly don’t agree with what someone wants to do.
  • As you would with codependency, you’d be likely to stick with an unhealthy relationship due to the fear of being alone.
  • People with dependent personality disorder feel anxious and worried when they think that someone who is close to them might be harmed in any way, or think that they are abandoning them. This can make it hard for someone with dependent personality disorder to have personal relationships with others.

How can you heal from dependent personality disorder?

Dependent personality disorder causes feelings of shame and guilt in yourself, as well as your inability to be alone. It is also characterized by your pattern of depending on others to meet your own personal needs.

It is a type of emotional dependency that centers around seeking approval or validation from your environment.

Is there any hope for you if you have DPD? 

YES! There are numerous treatment options available to help you begin the road to healing from dependent personality disorder.

Of course, as you’ve likely already realized, dependent personality disorder can be a difficult disorder to overcome, as a sufferer’s sense of self is bound up in the relationship.

However, there are still many things a person can do to heal from DPD and restore their sense of self.

What are the steps to healing from DPD?

Whether you’re facing DPD yourself or you know someone else struggling with it, these tips can help you move forward.

The key to healing from dependent personality disorder lies in identifying yourself first and foremost as a person who is capable of achieving their goals with or without the help of others.

  • The first step to healing from DPD is learning about it and realizing you have it. Self-awareness is the first step and you should be compiling a list of everything you do now that can be replaced with more positive behaviors.
  • The second step is understanding how the disorder has affected your life and how to make all those broken promises come true. Reaching out to others is important, but don’t let this become a crutch you lean on when you should be solving your problems on your own.
  • The third step is working on improving your relationships, which is one of the most difficult parts of recovering but also one of the most important. Remember that you’re a strong and capable person who can help yourself just as much as you can be helped by someone else – even yourself.

 

Dependent Personality Disorder Resources

Are you struggling with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? Get help now.

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

 

INFJs are the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors – WHY and what you can do to heal

INFJs are the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors – WHY and what you can do to heal

Did you know that a large percentage of narcissistic abuse survivors happen to resonate with the INFJ personality type (from the Myers-Briggs Personality Test)? Based on several polls and a lot of research I did back in 2020, I can tell you it’s true.

Are you an INFJ who has been traumatized by a narcissist and you don’t know how to recover from the abuse? INFJs are highly intuitive and empathetic creatures which makes them prime targets for narcissistic abuse. INFJs have a tendency to ignore their own feelings as well as put other people’s needs above their own. We live in a world that praises selflessness and can make you feel bad if you place your needs first, and INFJs are especially sensitive to this.

What is an INFJ Personality?

The INFJ personality is known to be a compassionate, intuitive leader and is considered one of the rarest Myers-Briggs personality types. But when this highly sensitive and creative personality becomes a victim of narcissistic abuse, the devastation can be enormous.

According to 16Personalities.com, “An Advocate (INFJ) is someone with the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. They tend to approach life with deep thoughtfulness and imagination. Their inner vision, personal values, and a quiet, principled version of humanism guide them in all things.”

Quick Facts on the INFJ Personality

  • They are genuinely good-hearted people who connect quickly with others.
  • They often find interest and support in helping other people more than themselves.
  • They want to help and make a difference, which makes them an ideal target for manipulation.
  • INFJs value deep, heartfelt relationships.
  • They focus on a few special people in their lives and are intensely loyal and protective of them.
  • INFJs great strength lies in the intensity of their feelings, which they use intuitively to understand other people.
  • Their unique combination of traits makes INFJs natural advisors or counselors.
  • People value their insight and willingness to listen to others.

Why are INFJs the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors?

While every single personality type is susceptible to being a victim of narcissistic abuse, the most common profile of narcissistic abuse victims is INFJ. But why? For one, INFJs are givers by their very nature, and when they fall in love with someone (or are infatuated), their first instinct is to give everything they have to make that person happy.

INFJs are externally focused.

INFJs are wired to respond instantly and to take swift action to soothe any sort of negative emotion the narcissist may show – their goal is to prevent the narcissist (or anyone else they interact with) from feeling uncomfortable or unhappy in any way.

They will bend over backward to ensure the emotional safety of anyone they love. This makes them prime targets for narcissistic abusers, who are known to lack empathy and only concern themselves with their own emotions and needs. Plus, many INFJs may have develoed this particular personality type due to their own childhood trauma.

INFJs are sensitive and intuitive.

INFJs are highly intuitive, which is an asset in many situations. It’s often the quality that leads them to choose counseling as a career. But it’s also the quality that’s most likely to lead them into abusive relationships. INFJs are so attuned to other people’s feelings that they’re often taken advantage of by narcissists and sociopaths.

They can be easy targets for emotional predators because INFJs tend to trust people too easily and believe that everyone has good intentions. This tendency toward being trusting and giving isn’t a character flaw — it’s just part of being an INFJ personality type. And it can be a trap if you don’t learn how to navigate relationships more effectively.

INFJs struggle with seeing their own value.

INFJs are not always good at taking care of themselves. They can be overwhelmed by their own pain and are so used to putting other people first that they have a hard time letting themselves take a front seat in their own lives. So when an INFJ endures narcissistic abuse, it can really knock them down hard. The self esteem of an INFJ can take a real hit after being treated so poorly.

Many INFJs describe narcissistic abuse as having the rug pulled out from under them in some way. The dream they had for their life is shattered and they find themselves lost and confused with no idea where to turn next. Even if you’re familiar with personality disorders, the effects of narcissistic abuse on an INFJ can still be devastating because it attacks their very core being – everything that makes them who they are as a person. It’s like a parasite that burrows into your brain and takes over your mind, convincing you that you will never, ever be enough.

How can INFJs recover from narcissistic abuse?

When an INFJ is dealing with narcissistic abuse, it can be extremely damaging to their self-esteem and confidence. The narcissist has spent months or years filling their head with negative thoughts, telling them that they are bad, unworthy, and need to be fixed.

As outlined in my DUO Method, the first step in treatment is to recognize that there is a problem. There may be some denial involved because the INFJ has been subjected to constant criticism and manipulation by this person. When the INFJ realizees that they are being abused and that the abuser has no regard for their feelings or their needs, they’ve already taken the first step toward narcissistic abuse recovery.

The next step involves learning how the abuser thinks and operates so that they can spot the red flags before they get into another toxic relationship, as well as learning how you got into the relationship in the first place and what you can do in the future to protect yourself from similar situations.

It is important for INFJs to develop a strong support system during this time and seek out other people who understand what they are going through. Therapy and narcissistic abuse recovery coaching can also be helpful in teaching them how to set boundaries without feeling guilty or ashamed of themselves.

Recovery from narcissistic abuse really sort of begins when you stop blaming yourself for what happened. You may feel that the narcissist was right about you all along, but when you’ve finished the second phase in recovery, you’ll understand the psychlogy of what happened and you’ll see the patterns around them.

Finally, the INFJ will overcome narcissistic abuse by ending or minimizing the relationship in their lives before evolving into the best possible version of themselves.

INFJs: Questions to Ask Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse

  • What are your personality strengths and how do they relate to narcissism?
  • When you were being abused by a narcissist did you get caught up in the narcissist’s web of lies and manipulation? If so, what did it feel like?
  • How did you deal with the narcissist’s flow of constant criticism during the relationship and now that it is over?
  • How do you handle working through your feelings of self-blame, guilt, shame, and not feeling good enough?

Can an INFJ be a narcissist?

Can an INFJ be a narcissist? It’s possible, though unlikely, that an INFJ personality type can be a narcissist.  First, we have to consider this: Since Narcissists really haven’t manifested any original, true identity (and since they tend to lie to even themselves), any Myers-Briggs Personality Test result would (or at the very least) could be false. Narcissists won’t or can’t see any true insight into their false selves.

The truth is that their actual identity is comprised of “borrowed” personality traits, hobbies, choices, and frustrations from other people in their lives. There’s not a lot of substance. Narcissists usually aren’t capable of self-reflection – and don’t forget: they lie – to themselves and everyone else. With all of that being said, here is what you’d see if narcissism manifested in each of the 16 personality types – watch this video.

Communication Struggles for INFJs After Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Many INFJs find themselves struggling with communication folloing narcissistic abuse. Part of this is because they might be (or have become) more introverted due to their abuse. Some of the issues that introverts have when communicating with others are due to the very definition of being an introvert.

INFJs are silent perfectionists.

Due to perfectionistic tendencies, introverts frequently don’t speak up, even when they have something to say because they fear it won’t be insightful enough or it will come out all wrong.

INFJs might neglect phone calls.

You much prefer to text or email because you can skip the small talk and it’s socially acceptable with those forms of communication. But phone calls… shudder! You find yourself procrastinating making important phone calls or returning calls, even to those you love. You have to feel energized enough to be an enthusiastic participant in the conversation, which can cause you to put off making calls, even if they are vital.

INFJs prefer to fly solo.

Because you need to think before you speak and because you need to have silence while you ponder, you find it challenging to participate in the conversation when there are comments and ideas flying everywhere. You may feel like you can’t gather your thoughts well enough to contribute to the conversation.

INFJs are overwhelmed and exhausted by large groups.

When you have to be around a lot of people, especially if you don’t know them, you feel exhausted fast. One reason for this is because it involves a lot of small-talk, which doesn’t come naturally to introverts. Putting out that much effort wears you out.

In fact, working in groups can be even worse for an introvert than small-talk. When you must rely on others to communicate in ways that aren’t comfortable or understandable to you, it’s a real challenge to complete the project. There’s also the issue of your perfectionism too. Because of your practice of thinking through every possible issue and solution, you are committed to only turning out perfection… but others in the group don’t often care as much about this as completion, or they have a very different perception of what “perfection” is.

INFJs can feel lonely in a crowded room.

Introverts often feel left out of a rapid conversation, whether it’s at a party or a work conference. This often occurs because, by the time you determine what you want to say and the best way to say it, the group has moved onto a new topic. You can easily feel left out and lonely during these discussions – more so than if you were actually alone.

INFJs CAN Recover From Narcissistic Abuse

Many INFJs are able to rebound from abuse and go on to have happy and fulfilling lives; however, there is no “road map” for recovery. Abuse is difficult for everyone, and for INFJs it can be especially hard because of their tendency to overlook their personal needs in favor of being selfless and accommodating.

The key to understanding the process for INFJs is realizing that we are dealing with an abuse of power. It is because of immature, unfulfilled expectations of what romantic relationships should be that the narcissist tries to take control. Whether it’s because they were not treated with the love they expected when they were younger, or whether they are simply incapable of truly loving anyone else, the narcissist is only capable of meeting their own needs.

What’s important to remember is that you are not alone, and that you can work through your pain. The first step is recognizing the abuse for what it is. From there, you need to learn how to love yourself again. Below are some additional resources to help you get started on your narcissistic abuse recovery.

Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.

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