Codependents are driven by unconscious unmet emotional needs, and use relationships to fill emotional holes. Their sense of self-worth hinges on the effect they believe they are having on others. In their minds, they are caring and loving. In actuality, they are 'saving' or 'rescuing,' which contributes to a worsening of the situation. Denial serves as an elaborate system of defense and protection of the codependents modus operandi in relationships. This makes it impossible for codependents to objectively and realistically assess their own level of involvement, the effect of their involvement, or that they can not extricate themselves from the relationship. They can't stop themselves from "going down with the ship."