Sunday, September 18, 2011

DZ womb twin survivors: Alpha into false Beta

Alpha into false Beta - the co-dependency game

When a person uses their Alpha quality of dominance and initiative to take over another Alpha person's problem, they allow the other person to act passively when this person is of course quite capable of taking control of the situation by themselves.Meanwhile, the person who is taken over is in fact not being "taken over" at all: they are choosing to give away their power to the other and volunteering a new role as a false Beta. This is co-dependency, because each denies their Alpha qualities by giving them to the other.

For example, here is a familiar tale: a heavy drinking Alpha male characteristically passes out at a party because of an excess of alcohol. His capable wife ( who usually plays the Beta role to keep him happy as leading Alpha ) takes charge as usual in these circumstances: she mops up the vomit, undresses him and puts him to bed. She also washes his clothes and makes apologies to the hostess. Thus she is the leading Alpha in this pair and he gives all his power to her and becomes the passive Beta.

This is a story about shame: to cover her husband's shame she has become the obedient beta "servant" who will clear up the mess for her "lord", so that in the morning the whole sorry episode can be forgotten. But why is she not ashamed of her own behaviour, to involve herself in the mess of this man's shame? Codependency is a condition of shared shame, where because each bears the shame of the other neither of them need admit to it. In short they can both deny their Alpha qualities and become false betas. The husband adopts the role of"addicted alcoholic" and the wife is the " suffering co-dependent". This is the "Codependency game".

Now let's take a second look. Two people with the Alpha qualities of initiative, dominance and energy go to a party and do not play the "codependency game." It goes something like this: he begins to drink heavily and his wife warns him that if he falls down he will lie in his own vomit till he wakes up ( if he doesn't choke and die) and will clear up the mess for himself. I imagine a rather different outcome in this case!

If her husband takes things to the edge and does pass out, then to carry out her threat the wife will have to use her Alpha quality of strong tolerance to withstand the emotional blackmail, leave her husband insensible on the floor and go home. To a false Beta this would look like abandonment and betrayal.
To an honest Alpha this is clearly a terrible mess that he has created for himself that needs to be sorted out as soon as possible, with abject apologies and genuine resolve never to do it again.

In the world of addiction therapy this is called "tough love" and is the best cure for addiction.  The ability to give tough love is neither an Alpha nor a Beta quality: it is the highest form of love, for it is tough on both participants. It requires the giver to risk the entire relationship for the sake of truth, and confronts the other with his shame in an atmosphere of absolute love and trust. This is how Alpha power brings healing to both parties.


  1. my first thought was "how cruel is that tough love!" and "then I better stay co-dependent"...

  2. I guess that as long as you see tough love as cruel and not true love at all, that is how you will stay. But it may be worth looking at how you show tough love to other people, by not intervening to help, thus forcing them to manage their own mistakes. We all do tough love at one time or another!