From ACA Red Book—
The adult child syndrome is somewhat interchangeable with the diagnosis of codependence. There are many definitions for codependence; however, the general consensus is that codependent people tend to focus on the wants and needs of others rather than on their own. by doing so, the codependent or adult child can avoid his or her own feelings of low self-worth. This is the sixth trait of the 14 traits. A codependent focuses on others and their problems to such an extent that the codependent’s life is often adversely affected. In addition to emotional suffering, codependents can suffer from serious or chronic physical illnesses. The illnesses include stomach problems, severe headaches, insomnia, colon problems, and skin ailments in addition to other physical problems.
In ACA, we realize we could not have reacted another way given our dysfunctional upbringing. As children, we focused on the odd or neglectful nature of our parents’ behavior. We mistakenly thought we cause their moods or attitudes or could do something to change circumstances. We did not realize that we were children and that adults were responsible for their own feelings and actions. Many of us thought we cause our parents’ addiction. We took responsibility for their drinking and drugging, thinking we could make them stop, slow down, and eventually love us. As children, we took responsibility for our parents’ anger, rage, blame, or pitifulness. We were children, but we unknowingly took responsibility for our parents’ feelings and poor behavior. This mistaken perception, born in childhood, is the root of our codependent behavior as adults. By living with a blaming or shaming parent, we developed a dependent, false self. Our false self constantly seeks outward affection, recognition, or praise, but we secretly believe we don’t deserve it. Meanwhile, the Inner Child is driven inward into hiding. The false self is the adult child personality expressed in the 14 Traits of The Laundry List.