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Disassociation diagnosis

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nekonamida posted 3/23/2021 10:51 AM

That seems indistinguishable with regular old WS denial, minimization, and gaslighting. What reasoning does your IC give to say it's a mental health issue and that she isn't just lying?

DevastatedDee posted 3/23/2021 11:30 AM

Yeah, that just sounds like lying. Lying is a character flaw, not a mental health issue.

DaddyDom posted 3/23/2021 13:58 PM

WS here. I disassociated for months prior to and during the affair, and it greatly (negatively) affected my ability to own and understand my part in the affair during R. It took me years to work through it. I'd like to offer any advice I can to both help you to understand it, and more importantly, navigate it as it relates to the affair.

As others have said, it felt like watching a movie, in a literal sense. I was aware of myself, aware of my thoughts, but it was as if there were "two of me", and the person who was speaking/moving/feeling/doing things was someone else. It felt as if I was just a few inches behind my body, not really existing, but just watching what this other person was doing and living their life. I know how incredibly silly that sounds, and if your alarm bells are going off, I don't blame you. I would think I'm full of shit too, except that I lived it.

I won't go into all the ugly details now. Suffice to say that after years and years of hard work and therapy, we concluded that the abuse and neglect I experienced as a child affected me. I have a condition that is similar to DID (multiple personalities), however with me, instead of being "other people", my own personality fragmented. When you are abused repeatedly, you learn to "go elsewhere" or "be someone else" in order to survive the ordeal(s). I have a 6-year-old me, who is the abused and scared little boy, the 16-year-old me, who is the protector but also the super angry and retribution one, and he was the one "driving the bus" during the affair. And then there is "me", my current self. There might be more. From the same elements of my life that caused my personality to fragment, I also have been diagnosed with C-PTSD and depression.

Regarding memory issues - these are very real. This sucks, because WS's lying about remembering things is also very real. So it is almost impossible to tell one from the other. If you google "trauma and memory loss" (PTSD, depression and DID all fall under that same umbrella) you will find that memory loss is very common in people who suffer from trauma, and in most cases is related to a trigger of some kind. And it is inconsistent. So for example, maybe the WS went to dinner with the AP and then had sex in the car. They might remember every detail of the dinner because there was nothing triggery about that, but not remember the sex afterward because maybe that triggered memories of abuse in their childhood, or even simply the guilt and shame of being a cheater in the present.

The real reason I bring this all up however is that it made R so very difficult for both of us. My guilty heart and mind just tried to glom on to any excuse or justification that I possibly could in order to try and "make it not my fault". The story in my head was, "If I was not in my right mind, and if someone else was driving the bus, then how can *I* be held responsible for the things I did while I wasn't playing with a full deck?" And that's a great question. How the WS answers it makes all the difference.

The bottom line is this. Even if your WS was completely disassociated during the A, the choices they made, and the actions they took, were the responsibility of the person who made those choices and actions. Themselves. True, they might not remember some details, or might not even have "been there" for the events, but the choices they made still came from the same brain, and the same body. Even if we completely excused their actions due to mental issues, the fact would still remain that an affair occurred, and that the BS was harmed, and that the WS was the cause of that. A normal, healthy person would say, "OMG, even if I didn't mean to hurt you, I did, and so I need to own that and make it right". A broken, wayward person will most likely lack the empathy and ownership required. So what you get instead is lies and bullshit as they bury their head in shame, avoid conflict, live in denial and remain in a selfish, CYA mode.

If you don't mind, I'd like to offer you this advice, take it or leave it as you need. Don't focus on the memory or lack thereof. You've already proven these things happened anyway, so there you go. Instead, focus on your spouse's ability to own what they did, to empathize with you on the trauma it caused you, and the amount of effort and desire they are willing to put into making things right, regardless of their memories or intentions. (If I threw a baseball and it broke your window, whether I intended to break the window or not, it is still my fault, and your loss, so it is my burden to apologize with empathy and to pay for the window. That should happen, even if for no other reason than my own self-respect and accountability. If I tell you to go jump in the lake and that it's not my fault, then that is not acceptable). Judge your WS not on what they say or remember, but on what they do, and how they react. Words are easy to manipulate. Actions are not. Their actions will tell you everything you need to know. If your spouse is showing sincere emotions, accountability, contrition, authenticity, empathy and care, it will be obvious. It will be more obvious when those things are lacking as they are now. As long as they continue to be defensive, angry, blaming, avoiding, living in shame, or just clueless, they are still not safe to be around, and not yet at the point where they need to be in order to be healthy and safe.

DevastatedDee posted 3/23/2021 14:47 PM

As others have said, it felt like watching a movie, in a literal sense. I was aware of myself, aware of my thoughts, but it was as if there were "two of me", and the person who was speaking/moving/feeling/doing things was someone else. It felt as if I was just a few inches behind my body, not really existing, but just watching what this other person was doing and living their life. I know how incredibly silly that sounds, and if your alarm bells are going off, I don't blame you. I would think I'm full of shit too, except that I lived it.

That is an absolutely excellent discription of what I felt on my DDay. It sounds nutty as hell and I never actually expect anyone to believe it, but that's it. Behind my body and slightly to the right. It's a very disturbing experience.

DevastatedDee posted 3/24/2021 08:53 AM

The bottom line is this. Even if your WS was completely disassociated during the A, the choices they made, and the actions they took, were the responsibility of the person who made those choices and actions. Themselves. True, they might not remember some details, or might not even have "been there" for the events, but the choices they made still came from the same brain, and the same body.

All of that is true too. I struggled with that with my own actions. I had to ask myself where my reaction of running out and screwing a stranger came from. Was it in my character to hit back like that in the most hurtful way? I had to come to terms with the fact that yes, it is. The reaction came from my brain, no matter how fucked my brain was at the time. I don't react to trauma with freezing up. I react with anger. I didn't feel anger or any other emotion directly while it was happenening, but whatever part of me that was driving reacted just like a person reacting with cold rage would. So cheating back was still me. It was still something I would do if you boiled me down to my basic operating system. Maybe I wouldn't have actually done that if I hadn't reacted like my brain was blasted, but I really won't ever know.

Point being, it isn't an excuse and doesn't mean that she's not responsible even if that diagnosis held up.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 8:56 AM, March 24th (Wednesday)]

Niceguy25 posted 3/25/2021 08:04 AM

I donít excuse her behavior in anyway. I just struggle with understanding the upright devout woman I knew for 16 years with the very casually loose woman who was engaged in this affair. She remembers it clearly but is adamant that my view of the events that took place are skewed. Everything I know for certain came from the written correspondence I intercepted, found or was given by 3rd parties (aka her older sister who introduced them after her affair with him), overheard in the wee hours phone calls between them (2 or 3am calls) or her own admission. Yet, when confronted with those facts, My IC and I are both told what we see is not what actually occurred. Her version of this story is much less brazen and committed to her AP.. No, according to her, did she ever stop loving me, no they had no future plans together, no he was not a great lover, no they did not fuck every time they spent a weekend together, no, no, no. And now, she says she sees who he really was/is and hates him...huh? Who sends a ďletís reconnectĒ Birthday Card to someone they hate. I have always felt I am dealing with two completely different women sharing one body. When my IC brought up Cognitive Dissidence was the first time any of it has made any sense.

nekonamida posted 3/25/2021 14:37 PM

Who sends a ďletís reconnectĒ Birthday Card to someone they hate. I have always felt I am dealing with two completely different women sharing one body. When my IC brought up Cognitive Dissidence was the first time any of it has made any sense.

Does he mean your cognitive dissonance in squaring up the person your WW presents herself as VS the person she was when she was cheating?

I think without some thorough investigation by your IC into who your WW is and whether she is meeting the criteria for disassociation, this is a pretty clear open and shut case of a wayward continuing to minimize, lie, and gaslight. What you read in the letters is how she felt during the time. What you read in the letters is what happened. She may feel differently about him today but that doesn't change that she acted much like any wayward in a EA/PA.

BluerThanBlue posted 3/25/2021 16:58 PM

So basically, your IC a pulled the disassociation diagnosis out of his ass; it wasnít based on a consult with your wife or even a reasonable guess based on information youíve given him.

Iíll reiterate: Fire your IC. Find someone who isnít an idiot and is actually interested in treating YOU.

There is nothing complicated about your situation. Your wife doesnít have a mental disorder; sheís just a run-of-the-mill liar who is trying to manipulate into disbelieving reality.

grubs posted 3/25/2021 20:00 PM

I just struggle with understanding the upright devout woman I knew for 16 years with the very casually loose woman who was engaged in this affair.

When my IC brought up Cognitive Dissonance was the first time any of it has made any sense.

That's pretty much text book CogDiss. Her view of herself as a devout woman with the horrid actions she was doing during the affair means something has to be rewritten. I get the impression though that Diassociation Disorder is a considered a step beyond.

Niceguy25 posted 3/30/2021 18:33 PM

There are so many here in both sides of this issue, but Ive got to say that for my experience, DD makes the most sense of the behaviors (both affair and all others) that I have seen in the last 30 years. It explains so very much of what I have witnessed in our 48 years together. (3 dating, 45 married.). I can clearly identify two different women I have lived with whoís actions and behaviors are dramatically different from the other. I think itís not a severe case, but there is definitely two sets of life standards. If I challenge the one thatís not the norm, the body language, spoken language and beliefs Iíve confronted then experience as either angry or a somewhat visible state of confusion. Itís hard to explain what I experience. I sometimes feel like what happens is akin to a computer glitch...adjust...re-image, and eventually normal function is restored.

[This message edited by Niceguy25 at 12:08 PM, March 31st (Wednesday)]

ISurvivedSoFar posted 3/31/2021 09:47 AM

Yes I can validate this.

Iíve confronted then arrest as either angry or somewhat visible as a state of confusion.
I've experienced exactly the same and the confusion is definitely your clue. That's her sliding back and forth between the versions of herself. It's a very weird paradigm.

It helped for me to ask my WS who I was talking to. That would help him realize and he could start to recognize it for himself once I could see it. DM if you'd like to know more

Niceguy25 posted 3/31/2021 12:27 PM

I responded in private messages.

Niceguy25 posted 4/7/2021 21:14 PM

My wife literally changed overnight from the straight laced faith filled, rule following, standard setting, devoted wife and mother to a woman who was willing to share herself emotionally and sexually with a relative stranger. If thatís not DD, what is it? I donít recognize the woman who threw her heart over the fence in mere days, body, mind and soul, for a guy she knew was a narcissist cheater, and then when he dumped her a year later for his new side piece, still pursued him for another 2 1/2 years.

DaddyDom posted 4/8/2021 12:20 PM

If this is what you suspect it is, then she is both of those people. They both exist. And they are both "her". In my therapy, the goal was to integrate those personalities. The mature personality and the immature personalities had to come together as a whole.

This might not apply to your wife, but in my case, it worked something like this. My adult self had to figure out a way to understand my younger selves, and kind of "give them the new rules". For example, my 16-year-old self was very angry at my mother, and when I was 16, I would "punish" my mother by being an ass, by sneaking out, by sleeping around, by doing anything to show her how angry I was and how I was going to act out to hurt her. My 16-year-old self saw my wife in that same "female authority figure" role, and so it saw my wife as my mother, and went about punishing her as it saw fit. My adult self had to tell 16 that my wife is safe, that we love her, that she isn't our mother, and that she is to protected, not harmed. 16 was "stuck at a point in time" and couldn't understand the present without seeing it through a lens of the past. I hope that makes sense. So in order to integrate 16, I had to understand him first, and then I had to learn how to go back and "be the parent" I never had. I had to tell him it was safe to grow up.

I can't even begin to advise you on how to feel or what to do about this. Bottom line, she's still not safe if she can't see the changes in herself, and if she can't respond to those changes. My guess is, that if she is willing to put in the hard work of integration, then there is hope to be had, at least in terms of what made her unsafe to begin with. Whether you are willing and able to wait for that to happen, or to be involved in it happening, are up to you.

Sorry you find yourself in this position. Has her IC weighed in on her disassociation or possible DID/DDNOS diagnoses?

Niceguy25 posted 4/8/2021 19:32 PM

Daddy Dom...both you and your spouse have been a wonderful resource to try to understand my WW. I still canít determine if sheís a mild case of DD, or if itís all just gas lighting and rug sweeping? I think it could go either way in all honesty. Your story is compelling and makes me want to believe thatís her, but she can remember so much else in great detail about other things during this time. I donít know how much, if any, new facts I can handle. Thanks for your post and thoughts.

This0is0Fine posted 4/9/2021 12:11 PM

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Just the same advice I have earlier in the thread. A medical diagnosis isn't going to change your experience. An experience where you are lied to, cheated on, and unsafe.

Niceguy25 posted 4/9/2021 18:51 PM

This0is0fine, your absolutely right. It changes nothing of her behavior and excuses nothing. But it does help me to understand the Jeckel and Hyde experience which boggled my mind. The woman I knew for 16 years pre affair would have been aghast at this behavior. The woman who behaved like a tramp I never knew before. The WW was a total stranger is so many ways for nearly 4 years. Post affair, I found my wife again and saw no sign of the other fir 25 years. Then the ďalienĒ returned and Iím never sure who Iíll wake up to each morning. The struggle is real.

barcher144 posted 4/9/2021 19:29 PM

I haven't read all of this...

I have dissociated 3 times, I think.

All were triggered my very bad emotional events. One was after I found about xWW's affair. The second was after she admitted to her affair being 10+ years, as I had suspected for 10+ years. The third was after my suicide attempt.

I talked to my psychiatrist's boss, who is the head of psychiatry at a research hospital. The boss said that the ability to dissociate requires major childhood trauma, such that you learn to shut off your brain as a protective mechanism.

So, if she's telling the truth... she's experienced some serious trauma.

jb3199 posted 4/11/2021 01:49 AM

And now, she says she sees who he really was/is and hates him...huh?

These types of statements always ticked me off. So it's ONLY because they 'see' the real person are they now upset. So, in other words, if the OM didn't change(in her eyes) into an utter asshole, it all would have been okay?

A former wayward should be disgusted at themself for their prior behavior....it should have ZERO to do with the AP's character.

BluerThanBlue posted 4/11/2021 08:25 AM

Barcher, DaddyDom, and ThisisS0Fine...

NiceGuyís wife was not diagnosed by her own therapist... this is an assumption by his own therapist. This is the person who should be treating him.

His WW isnít concerned about DD or expressed any distress over gaps in her memories, which means the therapist has no business even speculating about her mental health. She isnít claiming she forgot details... sheís flat out refusing to tell him anything voluntarily, as well as lying about and attempting to distort his perception of details that he already knows about.

NiceGuy, Iím going to repeat again that you need to fire your therapist and find someone who wants to treat you. I understand the comfort in believing she has this disorder, but there is no evidence behind this whatsoever.

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