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Saturday, February 16, 2019

"The Codependency Recovery Plan" by Krystal Mazzola. A Review

The Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent CycleThe Codependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle by Krystal Mazzola MEd LMFT
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's a very readable book. The author shows writing skill, keeps readers' attention, and easily guides them along the path. "The Co-dependency Recovery Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Understand, Accept, and Break Free from the Codependent Cycle" is a 170 page softback made to instruct and give practice. Krystal Mazzola is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist living in Phoenix, Arizona, co-owner and practicing therapist at Dantia Wellness, who has some skin in this rugby scrum called co-dependency. The manuscript is clearly written, and obviously intended for use as homework during therapy or in self-care.

Mazzola leads readers and recoverers through a very simple set of explanations and exercises. She begins the volume with data, definitions and descriptions. Also, using the family systems model, she maps out the terrain of dysfunctional families and codependent family relationships. Then she takes up the task of giving the 5 steps for recovering from codependency: (1) get in touch with your "self"; (2) prioritize self-care; (3) build boundaries; (4) maintain open communications; and (5) nurture intimacy. In each step the author goes forward a few yards, and then coaches the recoverer through an exercise to help them take the information from the intellectual to the affectual. Checklists, journaling, and mental role-playing are just a few of the tools Mazzola uses.

On the one hand "The Codependency Recovery Plan" is clearly a useful manual, written from the heart of one who has walked that path. On the other hand, I found myself unsatisfied by some of the approach and language. For example, it's pretty obvious that the author (whether she knows it or not) is traveling down the trail of Jungian Gnosticism. To paraphrase especially pages 46-50, "My real self is what's on the inside. I have to find the real me. My authentic self lies buried under my persona and needs to surface." I realize my contention may look skewed to some, but if my body, public personality, observable emotions, etc. are not also part of my authentic self, then "I" am trapped in a prison-house of creatureliness. And this Gnostic approach becomes more part of the disease than the remedy because, at the end of the day, it discounts my body-and-soul-ness.

Further, in several places the author mentions "your own truth" and "your own reality"; "Building awareness of your own truth is an ongoing practice...the right to your own reality" (81, 85). I'm not sure what the author intended by those phrases. They may be nothing more than therapy-guild-language for asserting boundaries, questioning the oppressive characterizations of right and wrong made by abusive people, etc. But I found it highly problematic and relativistic. If she meant nothing more than asserting boundaries, etc. it is still troublesome language. And if she meant what these words sound like, then they are treacherous. Once, some time back, one of my grandsons and I sat down to play chess. When he began to lose, he started moving his chess pieces in ways that didn't fit the "truth" and "reality" of the game (the rules). When I challenged him, he would say, "In my world, this knight can move this way. In my world, the pawns can move that way." We had a serious talk about the benefits and values of rules, and how - though painful at times - rules promote fairness for all. Imagine if he were to continue along this path into adolescence and adulthood, "In my world...in my truth...in my reality..." There is a freight-train of harsh, cold realizations waiting for him.

"The Codependency Recovery Plan" is usable as homework in settings where people are being coached and counseled. Some folks who are not in therapy may find it beneficial as a guide to self-recovery. The author makes good observations and proposals throughout, especially in the areas of setting boundaries and keeping communication open. I recommend the book, with some scruples.

My thanks to Althea Press for the free copy of the book used for this review, and sent to me at my request. And my thanks to them for not mandating what kind of review I was to write, other than that it be my own honest evaluation. This assessment is freely made and freely given.


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