Whole Earth Review

The Addictive Organization.

The Addictive Organization. – book reviews

Jim Britell

One of the points this book makes is that social-change organizations attract as employees co-dependents who want to fix the world. Unfortunately, these people replicate their ills within the organizations.

Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel share what they have learned as recovering co-dependents and organizational consultants about the disease of addiction in all kinds of organizations. They are true believers who “name” addiction and co-dependency everywhere. In the post there was original sin to explain the problems of the world, now there is addiction. The solution to both is the some — to surrender one’s will and life to God.

* We experienced the pervasiveness of co-dependence when we were conducting a workshop for a group of secretaries from a medical supply company; the women (there were no male secretaries in this company) were already self-identified co-dependents, so there was not the usual problem of denial in this group. However, some of the secretaries felt it was all right to be “nice” all the time. They often said, “No one likes a bitchy woman.” At one point in the workshop, we broke into smaller groups of about twelve each, and various members of our team acted as facilitators in the smaller groups.

In one group, the facilitator noticed that the webbing in her chair was stretched and the chair cushion was slowly moving closer and closer to the floor. jokingly, the facilitator mentioned this fact to the group. She said, “I seem to be sinking into the floor.” immediately, twelve women jumped out of their chairs and began scurrying around the room — some ran into the hallway in search of a replacement chair others dashed to the facilitator to help her and others offered their chairs. At that point, the facilitator asked everyone to stop and take a look at what she was doing. The defective chair had just provided a good lesson in co-dependent behavior.

Typical of co-dependents, these women had made several assumptions. They had not listened to the facilitator’s actual words; they had decided what the facilitator really wanted: a chair. Even those who heard what she said jumped ahead and made an assumption about what was good for her. Being good co-dependents, they of course knew what the facilitator needed before she did. In the same fashion, these women leaped into action doing what they supposed would please the facilitator (co-dependants like to be liked; they search for ways to please). Throughout all of this activity, the needs of the facilitator became irrelevant; in fact, no one even thought to inquire whether she wanted a chair or was uncomfortable. Under the guise of being “nice,” “unselfish,” and “considerate of others” they had made the person they intended to serve invisible.

COPYRIGHT 1992 Point Foundation

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group