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Dependency is a state in which a person or a system is influenced or controlled by something else. The dependency can be physical, psychological, emotional, or technical. In a dependency, the affected individual or system is no longer free and independent in its decisions and actions. This glossary entry explains the various forms of dependency in relation to people and systems and how they differ.

Dependency: A Glossary Entry


Dependency (English: dependency) refers to a state in which a person, group, or system is dependent on another person, group, or system and is thus restricted in its actions and decisions. Dependencies can occur in various contexts and have different causes.

Types of Dependencies

There are different types of dependencies that manifest in various areas of life and technology. The most common include:

  1. Physical dependency: This refers to a dependency on substances such as drugs, alcohol, or medication. The affected person needs the substance to avoid physical withdrawal symptoms and/or to feel emotionally and mentally well.
  2. Psychological dependency: In psychological dependency, a person is emotionally or mentally dependent on another person, an object, or a situation. Examples include dependency on the approval of others or on gambling.
  3. Emotional dependency: Here, the affected person is dependent on the emotional support and affection of another person. This can occur, for example, in partnerships or between parents and children.
  4. Technical dependency: In technical systems, dependencies refer to when a system or a component of a system is dependent on another component or an external system. Examples include software dependencies or dependency on energy sources.

Causes of Dependencies

Dependencies can have different causes. Here are some examples:

  • Biological factors: Genetic predispositions or physical illnesses can lead to dependencies, for example, in addiction disorders.
  • Psychological factors: Personality traits, traumatic experiences, or mental illnesses can increase susceptibility to dependencies.
  • Social factors: Influences from the social environment, such as family, friends, or working conditions, can contribute to the development of dependencies.
  • Economic factors: Financial dependencies can arise when a person or a system is financially dependent on another person or system, e.g., in debt or unemployment.

Distinguishing from Independence

Independence is the opposite of dependency and means that a person or a system is free and autonomous in its decisions and actions. Independence can be sought both on an individual and collective level, for example, in politics, economics, or education. However, independence is rarely absolute, as people and systems are interconnected and dependent on each other in various ways.

Recognizing and Resolving Dependencies

To recognize and resolve dependencies, it is important to be aware of one's own situation and the possible causes of dependency. Here are some steps that can help:

  1. Reflection: The affected person or system should be clear about the dependency and its effects and reflect on them.
  2. Information and advice: Information about the dependency and possible solutions can help find the way to independence. Professional counseling and support can be helpful.
  3. Changing the situation: To resolve the dependency, it may be necessary to change the situation, e.g., by reducing debt, changing the social environment, or acquiring new skills.
  4. Strengthening one's own resources: Developing self-awareness, independence, and resilience can help overcome dependencies and achieve independence.


Dependency is a state that can occur in many different contexts and on different levels. Engaging with the causes and effects of dependencies as well as developing strategies to cope with and resolve dependencies are important steps on the path to independence and self-determination.