One of the distinctions is that healthy empathy and caregiving is motivated by conscious choice; whereas for codependents, their actions are compulsive, and they usually aren't able to weigh in the consequences of them or their own needs that they're sacrificing.
Some scholars and treatment providers feel that codependency is an overresponsibility and that overresponsibility needs to be understood as a positive impulse gone awry.
These helper types are often dependent on the other person's poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs.
Many codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.
In DSM-I, passive dependency personality was characterized by helplessness, denial, and indecisiveness, and was considered a subtype of passive aggressive personality.
By DSM-IV, there were nine criteria with an essential feature of a pervasive or lifetime pattern of dependent and submissive behavior.
Often, there is imbalance, so one person is abusive or in control or supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.
One or both parties depend on their loved one for fulfillment.
Responsibility for relationships with others needs to coexist with responsibility to self.
Codependent relationships are marked by intimacy problems, dependency, control (including caretaking) denial, dysfunctional communication and boundaries, and high reactivity.
In 1941, she proposed that some people adopt what she termed a "Moving Toward" personality style to overcome their basic anxiety.
Essentially, these people move toward others by gaining their approval and affection, and subconsciously control them through their dependent style.