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Dependent personality



What is dependent personality disorder?

Dependent personality disorder (DPD) is one of a group of conditions called anxious personality disorders, which are marked by feelings of nervousness and fear. DPD also is marked by helplessness, submissiveness, a need to be taken care of and for constant reassurance, and an inability to make decisions.

DPD is one of the most frequently diagnosed personality disorders. It appears to occur equally in men and women, and usually appears in early to middle adulthood.


People with DPD become emotionally dependent on other people and spend great effort trying to please others.

People with DPD tend to display needy, passive, and clinging behavior, and have a fear of separation.

Other common characteristics of this personality disorder include the following:

  • Inability to make decisions, even everyday decisions, without the advice and reassurance of others.
    Well, I certainly have a lot of difficulty making descisions
  • Avoidance of personal responsibility; avoidance of jobs that require independent functioning and positions of responsibility.
    Mmm, maybe, I mean, one thing is sure, I always thought I wouldn't be a good manager, but in the past few years I have been and I was actually good! But, that being said, there is one thing that I would like to do: be an independent graphic designer or artist even, and never was able to do it, due to fear of not making it, lack of motivation, I don't know... I need more reflection on this.
  • Intense fear of abandonment and a sense of devastation or helplessness when relationships end; often move right into another relationship when one ends
    That is me! It kind of pisses me off (sorry for harsh langage) that even though I have been in therapy, and explained that to my therapists, both of them never even mentioned that it should be addressed!
  • Over-sensitivity to criticism

    I think that this is very true for me. This is one of the things that as prevented me from succeeding in the arts field for sure. I mean, I am a good artist. I do have talent, but get all confused when I receive criticism. Also, at work, I get extremely stressed when it comes time for evaluations. When I was in school, it was a similar thing, although it was some sort of magical thinking that I pulled on myself: I repeated to myself that I would fail! So I would get myself to study, after weeks of procrastination! Then the grades after the test would come in, and I would have and A.
  • Pessimism and lack of self-confidence, including a belief that they are unable to care for themselves
    I often get the feeling that I won't get a good job...
  • Avoidance of disagreeing with others for fear of losing support or approval
    Well, this one goes up and down, I am often fighting for others, but for myself, my strategy is more passive/aggressive and ineffective: I look angry, I don't talk...
  • Inability to start projects
    very much so, or I just don't finish anything rather.
  • Difficulty being alone
    Yeah. I retreat in my little apartment, but I am not happy, I just do it because I am ashamed that I need others, then I get all ansy, and call random people in a panic, usually I'll end up watching them do what they need to do, while I just stand there. Meanwhile, my taxes are not done, my apartment is a mess... I always fear I don't have enough "resource people" I can go to in these moments of panic.
  • Willingness to tolerate mistreatment and abuse from others
    Mostly with my partners.
  • Placing the needs of their caregivers above their own
    I am not sure about this one. with my partners, I just won't talk about what I need, but I don't necessarily see their needs as more important. I just fear that if I say what I need they will leave. But then, I am passive/agressive.
  • Tendency to be naïve and to live in fantasy
    I am not naive, but I do live in a fantasy world.


Although the exact cause of dependent personality disorder is not known, it most likely involves both biological and developmental factors. Some researchers believe an authoritarian or overprotective parenting style can lead to the development of dependent personality traits in people who are susceptible to the disorder.


As is the case with many personality disorders, people with DPD generally do not seek treatment for the disorder itself. Rather, they might seek treatment when a problem in their lives—often resulting from thinking or behavior related to the disorder—become overwhelming, and they are no longer able to cope. People with DPD are prone to developing depression or anxiety, and symptoms of these disorders might prompt the individual to seek help.

Psychotherapy is the main method of treatment for DPD. The goal of therapy is to help the person with DPD become more active and independent, and to learn to form healthy relationships. Short-term therapy with specific goals is preferred because long-term therapy can lead to dependence on the therapist. Specific strategies might include assertiveness training to help the person with DPD develop self-confidence.


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