Children’s Mental Health: Codependency and Alcoholic and Narcissistic Parents

The concept of codependency is one of the recurring themes in the discussions of childhood struggles, caused by alcoholic and narcissistic parents. This term is generally defined as one’s preoccupation with others’ problems as opposed to personal affairs (O’Brien and Gaborit 1992). Despite the apparent connection between the specified conditions in families and offspring’s mental health, the challenge is multi-faceted and includes other factors, such as gender and particular issues. Therefore, the topic is interesting due to the ambiguity of children’s future in terms of their particular characteristics, and it is important for updating treatment recommendations.

Literature Review

The previous studies aimed for investigating the presence of codependency in adults as a result of their childhood struggles are critical sources, allowing to conclude on the presence of clear patterns. The majority of publications, devoted to this subject, confirm that women’s experience is different from that of men since they are more vulnerable due to the need to adhere to social norms (Leslie 1995; Loring and Cowan 1997). Moreover, their issues are gender-specific and include higher risks of depression, low self-esteem, and self-silencing (Petrie, Giordano, and Roberts 1992; Reyome et al. 2010). Hence, it is crucial to determine the influence of gender as these findings confirm the presence of varying coping mechanisms.

Other aspects, emphasized by scholars in previous works, are the context of childhood abuse, its implications for mental health practitioners, and the connection between codependency and narcissism. Thus, the affected individuals are prone to shame and unhealthy attachments, and for social workers, their determination depends on the detection of contextual challenges in families, while alcoholism and narcissistic tendencies of parents seem inessential (Wells, Glickauf-Hughes, and Jones 1999; Wells et al. 2006; Evgin and Sümen 2021; Irwin 1995; Kim 2015). The proposed study aims to examine the correlation between the discussed factors and the quality of care provided for individuals. In this way, the research question is: How should healthcare services for codependent people be readjusted with regard to their gender and demonstrated behaviors?



The participants in the study are female and male patients with the history of childhood abuse in families of narcissistic and alcoholic parents. They are going to be randomly selected from the database with regard to the specified criteria, and 10 men and 10 women will respond to the questionnaires, developed by researchers. Hence, their inclusion will be beneficial for determining the effects of gender, which seem more critical than those of parents’ characteristics.


In the suggested study, the variables are people’s gender, their self-reported behavior, their assessment of provided care, and the scope of rendered services. These variables will be measured by the use of scales, designed on the basis of questionnaires, including the mentioned aspects. In this way, the degree of codependency in the affected individuals will be reflected by the overall effectiveness of coping techniques and other measures.


The data collection will be carried out by receiving the responses of the participants as per the questionnaire and analyzing them in order to reveal recurring patterns of behavior and general satisfaction with implemented solutions. As a result, the conclusions will be made regarding the influence of individual characteristics and the deriving need for readjusting treatment. The study’s only ethical issue is the necessity to receive the informed consent of participants for processing personal data, and it will be ensured before the beginning of investigations.


Evgin, Derya, and Adem Sümen. 2021. “Childhood Abuse, Neglect, Codependency, and Affecting Factors in Nursing and Child Development Students.” Perspectives in Psychiatric Care: 1-15. doi: 10.1111/ppc.12938

Irwin, Harvey J. 1995. “Codependence, Narcissism, and Childhood Trauma.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 51 (5): 658-665. doi: 10.1002/1097-4679(199509)51:5<658::AID-JCLP2270510511>3.0.CO;2-N

Irvine, Leslie J. 1995. “Codependency and Recovery: Gender, Self, and Emotions in Popular Self‐Help.” Symbolic Interaction 18 (2): 145-163. doi: 10.1525/si.1995.18.2.145

Kim, Hye-Sun. 2015. “The Relationship of Codependency and Mental Health in Social Worker.” Journal of the Korea Academia-Industrial Cooperation Society 16 (5): 3162-3171. doi: 10.5762/KAIS.2015.16.5.3162

Loring, Susan, and Gloria Cowan. 1997. “Codependency: An Interpersonal Phenomenon.” Sex Roles 36 (1): 115-123. doi: 10.1007/BF02766242

O’Brien, Patrick E., and Mauricio Gaborit. 1992. “Codependency: A Disorder Separate From Chemical Dependency.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 48 (1): 129-136. doi: 10.1002/1097-4679(199201)48:1<129::AID-JCLP2270480118>3.0.CO;2-C

Petrie, Joan, Jeffrey A. Giordano, and Cleora S. Roberts. 1992. “Characteristics of Women Who Love Too Much.” Affilia 7 (1): 7-20. doi: 10.1177/088610999200700102

Reyome, Nancy Dodge, Karen S. Ward, and Katie Witkiewitz. 2010. “Psychosocial Variables as Mediators of the Relationship Between Childhood History of Emotional Maltreatment, Codependency, and Self-Silencing.” Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma 19 (2): 159-179. doi: 10.1080/10926770903539375

Wells, Marolyn, Cheryl Glickauf-Hughes, and Rebecca Jones. 1999. “Codependency: A Grass Roots Construct’s Relationship to Shame-Proneness, Low Self-Esteem, and Childhood Parentification.” American Journal of Family Therapy 27 (1): 63-71. doi: 10.1080/019261899262104

Wells, Marolyn C., Michele B. Hill, Gregory Brack, Catherine J. Brack, and Elizabeth E. Firestone. 2006. “Codependency’s Relationship to Defining Characteristics in College Students.” Journal of College Student Psychotherapy 20 (4): 71-84. doi: 10.1300/J035v20n04_07

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PsychologyWriting. (2023, April 3). Children’s Mental Health: Codependency and Alcoholic and Narcissistic Parents.

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"Children’s Mental Health: Codependency and Alcoholic and Narcissistic Parents." PsychologyWriting, 3 Apr. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Children’s Mental Health: Codependency and Alcoholic and Narcissistic Parents'. 3 April.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Children’s Mental Health: Codependency and Alcoholic and Narcissistic Parents." April 3, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Children’s Mental Health: Codependency and Alcoholic and Narcissistic Parents." April 3, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Children’s Mental Health: Codependency and Alcoholic and Narcissistic Parents." April 3, 2023.