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Haaken, J. (1992). Beyond addiction: recovery groups and ‘women who love too much’. Free Associations, 3(1):85-109.

(1992). Free Associations, 3(1):85-109

Special Feature

Beyond addiction: recovery groups and ‘women who love too much’

Janice Haaken

Over the past decade, the United States has seen a burgeoning of self-help groups which offer aid to women seeking to emancipate themselves from ‘addictive’ relationships. These groups for ‘love addicts’ or ‘relationship addicts’ have more recently achieved a strong following in England as well, where, as in the United States, the ideas and explanations offered by these groups resonate with the experiences of large numbers of women (Worthington, 1988). Women Who Love Too Much, written by the American psychotherapist Robin Norwood (1986), has become the guiding text for many of these groups, outlining both the nature of the ‘disease process’ which underlies women's anguished attachments to men and the path of recovery from addictive love.

In the United States, Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) has been particularly active in promoting recovery programmes for ‘love addicts’. ACOA, a twelve-step programme which developed out of the Al-Anon tradition, focuses on the pathology of attachments based on caretaking and responsibility for others.

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