Codependency = conditioned reactive programming / Pavlov’s Dog

“Dr. Ivan Pavlov, a professor of physiology (the science of organic functions/processes,) won the Noble Prize in Medicine in 1904 for his study of the physiology of digestion.  His study of the physiological process of digestion in dogs led him to studying the link between digestion and the autonomic nervous system.  He found that he could train dogs to associate the ringing of a bell with food so that they would start salivating – which gave the stomach the message to start the digestive process – every time a bell would ring.  Thus the term “Pavlov’s dog” entered language referring to conditioned reflexes that are learned as opposed to innate and natural.”

“Codependency is a conditioned reflex.  It is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome.)  It is an effect of brainwashing, the result of behavior modification.  Codependency is condition, or dis-ease, that is caused by environmental conditions and conditioning rather than a phenomena which is genetic or innate to human nature.  (Disease =  a disturbance in a natural process, an abnormal condition which disturbs normal organic structural integrity / process.)”

“The purpose of codependency recovery and inner child healing is to clear up our relationship with the horizontal – with self and how we relate to everything and everyone in our human environment – so that we can learn how to integrate the Spiritual into the physical and bring some balance and higher meaning to this human dance we are doing.  We are here in body at this time to manifest Love into this human experience.  We cannot do that without first learning how to access Love for our self.  In order to do that, it is necessary to awaken to how the environments we grew up in conditioned us to live life in a way that is dysfunctional in relationship to the Spiritual / vertical component of our being – in a way that does not work to help us reconnect with Love.”

Animals are trained – Human Beings are emotionally traumatized

“Dr. Pavlov showed that repeatedly ringing a bell right before feeding a dog could result in a conditioned reflex.  That a dog could be programmed in a way that caused an alteration in the dog’s internal processes, in it’s relationship with eating.  He also showed that if the dog experienced the bell ringing without being fed enough times, it would revert to it’s normal digestive processes.  In other words, conditioned reflexes can be unlearned.

This true in human beings also – which makes recovery from codependency possible.  However the process – both of the programming and of recovery from the programming – is much more complicated and complex in human beings.

Human beings are only in part animal.  Human beings are a composite of four essential elements / dimensions of being.  Those four are components are mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.  Mind, body, and soul are three parts of a four part equation.

Animals do not have the intellectual capacity to define themselves in relationship to their environment.  They do not have consciousness of self.  Animals are not capable of self awareness.  They live life in reaction to innate and/or conditioned reflexes / instincts.

Human beings have the ability to define self individually in relationship to their environment.  Human beings have the capacity to remember the past and envision the future.  Human beings have a relationship with self that is defined by their perspective of self in relationship to life, to other human beings, to everything in their environment.  The quality of this relationship to both self and external stimuli is characterized as the person’s self worth or self esteem.

An animal does not have a sense of, or capacity for, such a relationship with self.  Animals do not have self worth.  Animals just are.  They live in the moment being perfectly the animal that they are.  Their life experiences – the intentional or unintentional behavior modification that life brings their way – can alter, distort, change their reactions to their innate reflexes / instincts but they adapt and go on surviving / maintaining their vital functions.

A dog can be abused so that it cringes and grovels – or so that it attacks and kills – but these are conditioned reflexes that are expansions of / adaptations of / distortions of their innate natural reflexes / instincts.  A dog in the right environment can unlearn these conditioned reflexes over time.  It does not cringe and grovel because it has low self worth, or attack and kill because it believes it is better than whatever life form it is attacking – it is reacting to distortions of it’s natural instincts.  The behavior modification training it has been subjected to, the conditioning that it has experienced, has taught it to react in a certain way to certain stimuli (the ringing bell) in alignment with it’s survival reflexes.

Animals with higher intelligence can also have distinct, individual personalities and a capacity for emotional attachment.  Animals have the capacity for emotional reaction.

Dogs are certainly capable of emotional reaction and attachment.  And this emotional attachment can be so great that it will sacrifice it’s survival for the person / people it has that attachment to – but this is true rather the dog has been treated lovingly or abusively because part of it’s innate reflex programming is loyalty to it’s pack, which is part of it’s survival programming.  Dogs have been selectively bred for centuries to see humans as their pack leaders.  Dogs have been bred to be codependent upon humans – to see humans as their higher powers.

(This brings to mind an old joke.  God made dogs to be a companion to humans.  After a period of time, one of the angels came to God and said, “We have a problem.  The human beings experience the dogs behavior and look into the dogs eyes and start thinking that they are god.”  God said, “Well, I’ll fix that.”  And God created cats.;-)

A dog who was abused as a puppy will cringe and shrink back (somewhat similar to internal feeling which causes the classic codependent form of codependency) or snarl and bite (one of the counterdependent flavors of codependency) when anyone attempts to touch it.  This is a conditioned reflex.  This can be seen as the result of emotional abuse, but it is not the result of the animal having a damaged self image.

An animal can be emotionally abused, but it does not have a conscious relationship with self that can be affected by that emotional abuse.  When a human being is emotionally abused (and any type of abuse – physical, sexual, verbal – is also emotionally abusive Emotional abuse is Heart and Soul Mutilation) it is traumatizing because of the effect it has on the being’s relationship with self.  It is because humans have the capacity for self awareness that emotional trauma has such a huge impact on our lives.

For a human being, any kind of abuse is doubly traumatic.  The abuse itself – and the effect that the abuse has on the person’s relationship with self, their self image.  The effects of childhood abuse are more long lasting and traumatic than the incidents of abuse in and of themselves.  The capacity which human beings have for self awareness – a relationship with / perspective of self – dictates that any emotional trauma suffered in early childhood, when we are forming the foundation of our relationship with self, is internalized and integrated into our perspective of self.  That core relationship with self then dictates how we relate to life and other people.

Emotional trauma directly affects one’s relationship with self – ones self worth and self image.  Emotional trauma is internalized and becomes a part of the emotional, behavioral defense system adapted by the element of a human’s being that is responsible for helping a human survive on a horizontal level – the ego.

Ego – consciousness of self

The ego is the part of our being whose job it is to help us survive.  It is a part of our internal structure that is organized to maintain vital functions, that fights for survival.  It is the ego that defines our relationship with self according to it’s survival programming and to the conditioning it experienced in early childhood.  The ego is the part of us which determines our perspective of self – our self image.

A dog who was abused as a puppy can unlearn their conditioned reflexes by spending enough time in a safe and loving environment.  Although a safe and loving environment can be very valuable to a human being who is healing from their childhood wounding – the emotional trauma they experienced because of behavior modification experiences in early childhood – love from external sources is not enough to heal a person’s relationship with self.

“It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child’s experiences, honor that child’s feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around.” – Quotes in this color are from Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

Intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior, experiences of a spiritual nature, faith in a Loving Higher Power, can help a person change their relationship with other people and life to a certain degree.  It will not however, change the way a person reacts in the relationships that mean the most to them – it will not help them to open their heart to love and to being loved on the most intimate levels.  Romantic relationships are the arena where our buttons get pushed, where our deepest wounds are triggered – which activates our emotional defenses.

We are not capable of having a Truly healthy romantic relationship, a Loving emotionally intimate relationship with another human being, until we start healing our childhood wounds in relationship to the trauma we experienced from the people we first opened our hearts to.  Our parents were our first loves – and we were wounded in our relationships with them because they were wounded.  We internalized and incorporated the conditioning from those initial experiences of opening our hearts to emotional intimacy into our relationship with self.

It is not our relationship with our parents that we need to heal in order to open to Love, it is our relationship with our self – the self image we formed because of our relationships with them.  The healing we need to do is internal, in our relationship with self.  Our ego adapted defenses to protect us in the environment we grew up in.  In order to change our relationship with self we need to change our childhood ego programming.

Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child.  Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met – our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs.  Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside.  Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves.

The ego is not a bad thing, it was just programmed very dysfunctionally in early childhood.  Our ego defenses are set up to protect us from the pain and shame of feeling unlovable and unworthy.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life  Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming / Pavlov’s Dog 

These quotes are from Chapter 5 an online book of mine that started out as a reply to an ignorant internet article by a marriage counselor who – in the article – revealed himself to be very codependent in my opinion.  That article and the one that follows it are still available on my website The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!  Chapters 3 through 15 of what grew into an online book are now only available in a subscription are of the site called Dancing in Light.  Those chapters are some of the most sophisticated of my writings – dealing with very advanced levels of recovery.  I am quite proud of those chapters and hopefully one day soon will be able to publish this book which is actually the third book of what I call The Wounded Souls Trilogy – which consists of Codependence: Dance of the Wounded SoulsCodependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing and this book Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life.

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