Pia Mellody creates a framework for identifying codependent thinking, emotions and behaviour and provides an effective approach to recovery. Mellody sets forth five primary adult symptoms of this crippling condition, then traces their origin to emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical and sexual abuses that occur in childhood. Central to Mellody's approach is the concept that the codependent adult's injured inner child needs healing. Recovery from codependence, therefore, involves clearing up the toxic emotions left over from these painful childhood experiences.
This book stands out among the current glut of material on codependence because it claims the realm of parenting for its vantage point. The authors believe that codependents must heal themselves in order not to repeat the ``less than nurturing'' behaviors of their own addicted or emotionally dysfunctional parents. Hence, they couple strategies for recovery with guidelines on what is and is not ``normal'' in the parent-child relationship. The authors' conclusions will invite controversy; for instance, they suggest that ``emotional sexual abuse'' of children may lead to homosexuality in adulthood. Nor are they reluctant to generalize: ``Although physical and mental illness aren't addictions, their effect on the family is the same.'' Offsetting the opinionated commentary is great compassion for the helpless, hurt children who live inside adult codependents. Mellody and Andrea Wells Miller are coauthors of Breaking Free: A Recovery Workbook for Facing Co de pend ence ; J. Keith Miller is a freelance writer. Author tour. (July)