Maybe you have heard this story: a young girl who has lost both her mother and her father is left to live with her stepmother and two step sisters. Instead of caring for the young girl, the stepmother forces her to become the family’s servant. This young girl does all the cleaning and cooking—without fail and without thanks. As time passes, the young girl grows up and complies with their every wish. In the process, she loses her sense of self. Others eventually rescue her—her animals, fairy godmother, and prince charming. Most people are probably familiar with the story of Cinderella, but they may not be as familiar with the “Cinderella Complex.” When an individual is overly compliant, wants to be cared for, fears independence, they may have the “Cinderella Complex,” another term for Dependent Personality Disorder. Although Cinderella was a little girl, Dependent Personality Disorder can develop in men and women, rich and poor, old and young.
When people have Dependent Personality Disorder, they often have difficulty functioning in mutual relationships, display low-esteem, desire to please people in authority, and have a need to be cared for. Dependent Personality Disorder can cause many personal and professional difficulties, but treatment options are available. Skilled therapists often combine psychotherapy with appropriate medication as clients grow and their self-awareness and self-reliance.
The therapists at Thriveworks Chesterfield treat Dependent Personality Disorder, and we have appointments available. Many of our clients have worked with our staff to learn how resourceful and capable they are.
Dependent Personality Disorder’s Risk Factors
Diagnosing Dependent Personality Disorder can be tricky because certain developmental stages or cultural practices can look like the disorder. For example, children are dependent upon their parents in a way that is not disordered but developmentally appropriate. Similarly, certain cultures value deferential treatment toward elders and authority figures. Again, this displays of passivity or deference are not Dependent Personality Disorder.
Diagnosing a mental disorder should never be done lightly. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) gives a detailed outline on how to recognize Dependent Personality Disorder (301.6[F70.7]). The DSM-5 says that people with Dependent Personality Disorder generally begin to show symptoms as they transition into adulthood. They may be unable to establish an independent, adult life and function self-sufficiently. They are also at an increased risk for other adjustment disorders, personality disorders, depression, and anxiety.
Recognizing Dependent Personality Disorder
There are two thoughts that provide the foundation for Dependent Personality Disorder. First, Dependent Personality Disorder teaches people that they cannot provide for their own physical and psychological needs. Second, the disorder teachers people that others have to care for them to survive. Thus, people with the disorder are often needy and clingy. They may experience and display separation anxiety. They are often very compliant as well as denigrate themselves or accept criticism without question. Often, Dependent Personality Disorder turns people into their own worst critics and causes them to underestimate their own competence.
The diagnostics for Dependent Personality Disorder are outlined in the DSM-5. Individuals with the disorder display:
- A core need for someone to care for them.
- Behavior that is overly deferential.
- Anxiety when separated from care givers.
Additionally, a minimum of five of the following will be displayed:
- Difficulty making daily decisions without extreme reassurance or advice from an authority figure.
- Feeling uncomfortable with being by oneself—even going to extreme measure to be around other people.
- Depending upon another individual to be able to function in one’s life. For example, if someone else pays the rent.
- Sacrificing one’s own values, beliefs, and identity in order to obtain nurture and support from others.
- An extreme fear of abandonment.
- An extreme fear of having to care for oneself.
- Conforming to what others think to secure approval.
- When one care-giving relationship ends, quickly replacing it with another one.
Even a quick glance at these symptoms will show how much difficulty people can have with Dependent Personality Disorder. The disorder can severely handicap people’s ability to carry on a healthy personal and professional life. People with it often have very limited social circles—only people who are their caregivers. They often struggle to hold a job or advance in their career because of their lack of initiative and confidence.
Setting Up Counseling at Thriveworks Chesterfield for Dependent Personality Disorder
“You are constantly invited to be what you are.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
The mental health professionals at Thriveworks Chesterfield have worked with many clients who have Dependent Personality Disorder. We offer individualized and holistic treatment. Some people need cognitive behavior therapy. Others would benefit from psychodynamic therapy. Many need medication as they manage their symptoms and delve into emotional wounds. The mental health professionals at Thriveworks Chesterfield know that each client has unique needs, and we are committed to providing personalized care that addresses each individual’s needs and symptoms.
If you are fighting dependent behaviors and are considering reaching out for help, know that Thriveworks Chesterfield has appointments. When you call to schedule your session, a real person will answer and help you find an appointment time. Your first appointment may be within 24 hours of your first call. We accept many different forms of insurance, and weekend and evening appointments are offered. We do not keep a waitlist, so our clients are never put on one. Let’s fight Dependent Personality Disorder together. Call Thriveworks Chesterfield today.