Dependent Personality Type

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Definition, Synonyms, Analogous


Definition: 1. Feeling or displaying strong affection or attachment; selflessly loyal; ardent. 2. Consecrated; dedicated. (AHD)

Synonyms: loving, affectionate, fond, doting

Analogous: faithful, loyal, true, constant: attentive, considerate, thoughtful (MW, 238)

Character Strengths and Virtues

Attributes of the idealized self

  1. Devotedness, Self-Denial, Decency; Seriousness, Soberness, Conservatism, Self-Control, Cautiousness, Obedience; Frugality, Thriftiness.
  2. Forgiveness, Meekness, Forbearance, Patience; Humility, Modesty, Moderation, Discretion.
  3. Sociability, Tactfulness.
  4. Sincerity, Honesty, Justice; Reliability, Responsibility, Trustworthiness, Loyalty, Faithfulness.
  5. Politeness, Courtesy, Thoughtfulness.
  6. Altruism, Benignity, Gentleness, Sympathy, Sensitivity, Considerateness, Friendliness; Gratitude, Tenderness, Agreeableness, Fraternity.
  7. Attentiveness, Persistence, Perseverance; Tidiness, Orderliness, Carefulness, Meticulousness, Dutifulness, Prudence; Steadiness.
  8. Knowledgeableness, Fortitude, Stoicism, Humorousness.

Traits and Behaviors

Strategies to actualize the idealized image

  1. Value sustained relationships
  2. Need othe people
  3. Follow rather than lead
  4. Deferential
  5. Agreeable
  6. Pleasing
  7. Attached

Likes and Dislikes


Excessive attachments to limited goods

some strong figure who will provide the resources for their survival and happiness, nurturance, support, help from other people, encouragement, a spouse, being loved, a competent partner or caretaker, staying close to the caretaker, an intimate relationship, subservience, a dependent relationship, subordination, placating and pleasing a caretaker.


Excessive aversions to limited evils

making decisions by oneself, helplessness, being alone, being abandoned, offending a caretaker, independence, rejection, criticism, having to do things oneself.


Dogmas of the private religion

(Beck, Freeman & associates, 1990, pg. 360, modified)

  • I am needy and weak.
  • I need somebody around available at all times to help me carry out what I need to do or in case something bad happens.
  • My helper can be nurturant, supportive, and confident—if he or she wants to be.
  • I am helpless when I am left on my own.
  • I am basically alone—unless I can attach myself to a stronger person.
  • The worst possible thing would be to be abandoned.
  • I must do nothing to offend my supporter or helper.
  • I must be subservient in order to maintain his or her good will.
  • I need others to help me make decisions or tell me what to do.
  • I must maintain access to him or her at all times.
  • I should cultivate as intimate a relationship as possible.
  • I can't make decisions on my own.
  • I can't cope as other people can.
  • I need others to help me make decisions or tell me what to do.

Ego defense Mechanisms

Self-glorification requires deception.



Attachments center them and make them feel complete.

  • Form relationships easily
    • please others
    • anticipate needs
    • considerate and attentive
  • Keep relationships going by
    • doing more of the work
    • making more sacrificies
  • Balance of power
    • take secondary role
      • less dominant
      • more passive
      • caretaking
    • rely on the other for decisions
    • trust the other
  • Idealize the other
    • other responsible
    • makes them feel
      • secure
      • comfortable
  • Stress
    • Trouble in relationships a severe source of stress
    • Take criticism hard
    • Feel responsible for things that go wrong


  • Nurturing
  • Sensitive to needs and feelings
  • Understand and fulfill dependency needs
  • Overprotect
  • Problems making decisions

Good/Bad Matches


  • Conscientious
  • Vigilant
  • Aggressive
  • Serious


  • Self-Confident
  • Adventurous
  • Leisurely
  • Dramatic
  • Sensitive
  • Mercurial


  • Devoted


Weak sense of self

  • Need successful, caring, mutually respectful relationship.
  • When they don't feel that they measure up to idealized partner, abandon self.
  • When not involved in relationship, feel that something is wrong with them.


With absence of or trouble in relationship they become:

  • Depressed
  • Anxious
  • Worried


Loss of or trouble in relationshipos may lead to substitutive dependencies:

  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Food
  • Sex

Real World

Feel small, needy, and less substantial than idealized others.


Management Style

  • They tend to avoid becoming managers
  • Caring managers
  • May need assertivieness training


  • Jobs where they:
    • take direct orders
    • fulfill needs of others
    • secure position
  • Service
    • Social work
    • Psychotherapists
    • Nursing
    • Working with children
    • Service agencies
  • Avoid jobs
    • Not involving others
    • requiring a great deal of decision:
      • making
      • implementing
      • being responsible for


Areas that may need improvement

  • Expressing opinions
  • Expressing feelings
  • Decision making
  • Developing interests
  • Developing life skills
  • Being on one's own
  • Other Areas of interest


Dependent Personality Disorder

Noteworthy Examples

John Adams, Woody Allen, Pamela Anderson, Jim Bakker, Jeff Bezos, Humphrey Bogart, Edmund Burke, George Bush, George W. Bush, Steve Case, Carlos Castaneda, Richard J. Daley, Richard M. Daley, John Dos Passos, Sally Field, Teri Garr, Edward Gibbon, Mel Gibson, Newt Gingrich, Tom Hanks, J. Edgar Hoover, John Irving, Ernest Jones, Jack Kerouac, Heather Locklear, Slobodan Milosevic, Marilyn Monroe, Oliver North, Hedda Nussbaum, Larry Page, Helen Palmer, Otto Rank, Nancy Reagan, Julia Roberts, Peter Sellers, Harry Stack Sullivan, Steve Wozniak.


  • The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (1981, c.1969). William Morris, Ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Aaron T. Beck, Arthur Freeman, and Associates (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York : Guilford Press.
  • Aaron T. Beck, Arthur Freeman, Denise D. Davis, (2004). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. 2nd. edition. New York: Guilford.
  • Merriam-Webster (1984). Webster's New Dictionary of Synonyms: A Dictionary of Discriminated Synonyms with Antonyms and Analogous and Contrasted Words. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster.
  • John M. Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love and Act the Way You Do. New York: Bantam.

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