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In a world that praises independence and needing others is seen as a weakness the fundamental nature of our dependence on each other is often overlooked and frequently denied.

Dependence on someone else is seen as unwholesome and even dysfunctional. It is the direct opposite, it is implied, of more healthy and socially desirable characteristics like self-reliance and autonomy, the signal characteristics of the mature and enlightened individual.

Pop-psychology has even spawned its own lexicon to describe this most unnatural and undesirable of traits; ‘neediness’, ‘attention-seeking’, ‘co-dependency’… Such terms cleverly conjure an image of inadequacy in anyone unfortunate enough to earn the label, while simultaneously delivering a terminal put-down and dismissal of their character.

But we are dependent creatures. As a social species we spend – indeed we owe – our lives to those around us, to our social bonds. This is why we spend so much time earning approval, protecting our reputations and imploring others to vindicate our actions, particularly when  we are beginning to feel alone or alienated.

And others depend on us, in some cases materially perhaps, but far more importantly for acknowledgement, kindness, acceptance, and where appropriate, love.

 

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