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A brief response from a psychiatrist

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 HowCouldSheDoIt (original poster member #78431) posted at 11:49 PM on Saturday, October 9th, 2021

I have another place where I write and vent (I love you SI, but I never promised to be exclusive...)

Today I got a reply from a psychiatrist, I did a web search and they're the real deal. I'm going to post the reply below so you can see it.

When I read it I wasn't offended, but it brought back memories of that MC that I visited. I wanted to share it here because it is unusual to hear from a therapist (at least unusual to me) in a discussion forum.

My post was long so I won't copy it here but it is the same type of venting I do that you've read here before. This is what the psychiatrist responded:

I was very reluctant to write my response here, but I feel it might help, although you may not like it.
It seems to me that you over-identified with the role of a betrayed spouse. People do it often because, paradoxically, being a victim of a transgression gives their lives meaning, which was otherwise lacking.
Sexual betrayal can be extremely painful, eviscerating, and I feel for you! On another hand (there is always another hand, isn’t it?) it may be a catalyst for growth - yours, your wive’s, and you as a couple. To begin with, your therapist should help you to cultivate an attitude of curiosity rather than blame.
I highly recommend Esther Perrel books "The state of affairs" and "Mating in captivity", as well as her Ted Talk "Rethinking infidelity".

My gut feel is that they have never been cheated on, but of course that's just speculation...

Anyway, happy Saturday!

Me: BH Early 50's
Her: WW Early 50's
D-Day Nov 2020
Married 21 years before D-Day
3 children
Working toward reconciling. The most difficult thing I've had to do in my life.

posts: 271   ·   registered: Mar. 3rd, 2021
id 8692412
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HFSSC ( member #33338) posted at 12:22 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Maybe I’m just a snotty bitch but when someone who claims to be a professional with years of education can’t spell or use the word “wife” correctly and misspells the name of the “expert” they are promoting, I pretty much discount every single thing they say.

But that’s just me.

Me, 54
Him, 45 (JMSSC)
Married 24 years. Reconciled.

posts: 4613   ·   registered: Sep. 12th, 2011   ·   location: South Carolina
id 8692413
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EllieKMAS ( member #68900) posted at 12:37 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Omg hfssc I was going to say the same thing

Hcsdi, couple things. One, the misspellings are a big deal coming from an "expert"; guess I'm snobby too but that just makes me smh. Two, I have a couple friends that are therapists and they would n-e-v-e-r email a client about their stuff for SO many reasons. And last, any therapist that recommends esther fucking perel is a total whackjob imho.

Find another counselor honey. This one is definitely not a keeper.

"No, it's you mothafucka, here's a list of reasons why." – Iliza Schlesinger

"Being weird is just a side effect of being awesome."– Unknown

posts: 3165   ·   registered: Nov. 22nd, 2018   ·   location: CO
id 8692418
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HFSSC ( member #33338) posted at 12:41 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Ellie, from reading hcsdi’s post I think this was just a message board reply and he’s not actually seeing this “psychiatrist” as a patient.

I think you and I could have a blast together. 😂😂

Me, 54
Him, 45 (JMSSC)
Married 24 years. Reconciled.

posts: 4613   ·   registered: Sep. 12th, 2011   ·   location: South Carolina
id 8692419
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 1:47 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Here's my opinion, HCSDI.

Ester Perel is a complete apologist for affairs. She does get somethings right. Nuggets here and there. She can help you understand the fog, and the draw of the A.

That said, she spends entirely too much time buying WS bullshit at face value in her own thinking.

Since you are heavily prone to blame shifting (you don't even need your WS to do it to you!), I would avoid her books until you have a solid foundation of calling BS on your wife and not accepting blame/false equivalence.

Good luck.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

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id 8692431
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src9043 ( member #75367) posted at 2:28 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Psychiatrists do have a purpose when it is necessary to treat someone suffering from a mental illness that incapacitates them or general depression that makes daily life quite challenging. There are medications that are helpful in addressing those issues.

When it comes to relationship advice, many psychiatrists and psychologists aren't much better than laypeople. Sometimes they are much worse. Some understand the dept of betrayal suffered by an innocent spouse. Others are utterly clueless and incompetent when they automatically blame-shift or wonder why the betrayed hasn't gotten over the affair two weeks after discovery (our MC).

I would take the psychiatrist's opinion mentioned in this thread with less than a grain of salt.

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thatbpguy ( member #58540) posted at 2:28 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

I'm a fan of Affair Recovery on YourTube. Solid videos.

ME: BH Her: WW DDay 1, R; DDay 2, R; DDay 3, I left; Divorced Remarried to a wonderful woman

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." C.S. Lewis

As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly...

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LostInHisFog ( member #78503) posted at 3:15 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

sheesh!

This is why interviewing MCs is so vital if you're truly giving R a red hot shot.

The Perrel/Gottam 50/50 mindset is brilliant when communication and disconnect is the only issue in the relationship but it's so harmful when infidelity is the cause of the breakdown. Why? because both buy into the 50/50 where everyone in the relationship shares the blame so it's equal footing, via this blueprint the BS plays a role in the WS affair(s) and some even shift blame and say the BS are the catalyst. With the 50/50 "labels" are 100% looked down on because you can't build a solid relationship if there is a victim and a villain, I have even been told labeling yourself the victim is very selfish and self absorbed shocked .

The 50/50 is great when trying to build communication but disastrous when trying to survive traumatic events like infidelity, rape, abuse and clinical depression. Too much shift blaming occurs, unaccountability and rug sweeping goes on, affairs become justified and validated instead of emphasis placed on ownership and rebuilding trust, the 50/50 is truly about "forgive and forget to build a stronger relationship, holding grudges or blaming isn't healthy", scarily the 50/50, to me, always feels like "well, if you didn't upset your spouse so much they wouldn't beat you up so much so please stop upsetting your spouse" or "you were too inner focused when having chemo and forgot your partners sexual needs, you can't ignore their needs", to me you can't work with that mindset when trying to R and heal from infidelity simply because infidelity is NOT the BS fault.

Sadly when learning to be an MC infidelity cases are rarely studied, the "it takes two to tango" examples are more used but overall they study communication techniques, not how to deal with trauma. So you do need to shop around when considering MC, I can not stress that enough, and a good way to weed out the Perrel/Gottam MCs is simply ask their opinions on infidelity, gauge if they're being patronizing "of course it's horrible/awful but..." statements (always watch out for the "but" statements), ask their opinions around "labelling" (do they see the BS as a "victim") and ask outright their thoughts on Perrel/Gottam. Did they study them? do they agree? etc

If you do end up with a MC who buys into Perrel/Gottam it will become evident, such as...

It seems to me that you over-identified with the role of a betrayed spouse. People do it often because, paradoxically, being a victim of a transgression gives their lives meaning, which was otherwise lacking.

AKA - Anti labels. The Perrel/Gottam MCs of the world don't believe in facing a marriage problem as two separates on a unit, a "you" and "them", a "victim" and a "villain", you can't have a unit if a BS sees themselves as the aggrieved party and uses labels to separate themselves from their WS, you're both to blame, you're a unit.

Sexual betrayal can be extremely painful, eviscerating, and I feel for you! On another hand (there is always another hand, isn’t it?) it may be a catalyst for growth - yours, your wive’s, and you as a couple.

AKA - This is their patronizing "but" I mentioned before, glossing over and rug sweeping the impact of infidelity trauma. "I know it hurts but..." "I can sympathize but...." "I feel for you! On the other hand...." RUN If you get a MC who does this because I guarantee they will rug sweep the trauma and provide zero healing tools for you both.

To begin with, your therapist should help you to cultivate an attitude of curiosity rather than blame.

AKA - Forgive and forget. This "curiosity" has nothing to do with getting the details of the affair more be curious about the possibility of growth as a couple. These kind of MCs will recommend against asking for the details, timelines for example, because it's hurtful to both parties and asking for past grievances does not contribute in building a stronger relationship. They are saying "be invested, present and interested in the growth of a stronger partnership moving forward from this disconnect rather than making sense what happened." Don't be curious about the affair(s) rather be curious about the relationship development. rolleyes

I highly recommend Esther Perrel books

My eyes hurt from the eye roll, of COURSE they would recommend Perrel, dear lord, after glossing over the pain, telling you to stop labeling yourself the victim and to simply move on and take this as a chance to be a better couple... ugggggh of COURSE they recommend Perrel.

For those considering MC and lurking here, IC first, you both need to work on the damage and damage done before you shop for a MC but do shop around when that time comes, therapists are biased while others are simply uneducated around infidelity, weed out the affair apologists.

[This message edited by LostInHisFog at 3:27 AM, Sunday, October 10th]

I edit because I'm fluent in typo & autocorrect hates me.

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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 3:57 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

A college degree isn't proof of character, nor is it proof of spelling apparently. rolleyes

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id 8692468
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Seeking2Forgive ( member #78819) posted at 8:45 AM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

It would be nice to have a resource to warn BSs away from minimizing, blame-shifting, rug sweeping *@#!holes like this.

Sexual betrayal can be extremely painful, eviscerating, and I feel for you! On another hand (there is always another hand, isn’t it?) it may be a catalyst for growth - yours, your wive’s, and you as a couple. To begin with, your therapist should help you to cultivate an attitude of curiosity rather than blame.

Having someone you love and trust chop your arm off might also may also be a catalyst for growth. Is anyone going to go through that and then "cultivate an attitude of curiosity rather than blame?" I don't think so.

And what the hell does that even mean? BSs are often much more curious about how the hell their WS could have done those things than the WS themselves. Nothing to see here, go back to business as usual while I eat cake.

It seems to me that you over-identified with the role of a betrayed spouse. People do it often because, paradoxically, being a victim of a transgression gives their lives meaning, which was otherwise lacking.

What kind of quack flashes their credentials and then makes that kind of supposition about someone on the Internet? So it's fashionable to be any kind of victim but betrayed spouse?

Ok, disclaimer: I do think it's possible to become too invested in a victim identity. At some point it's important to take ownership of your life, either R or D, and try to find a happy life again. We will always be BS's, but eventually that shouldn't be our focus.

Unfortunately, therapists like this one who fail to recognize the trauma of betrayal, minimize the harm done by the WS, and shift blame onto the BS, are the reason someone like me is suddenly dealing everything I swept under the rug 18 years ago.

[This message edited by Seeking2Forgive at 9:02 AM, Sunday, October 10th]

Me: 59, BS
Her: 58, FWS
Dday: 11/15/03
Married 37 yrs
Reconciled

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id 8692490
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ISurvivedSoFar ( member #56915) posted at 2:03 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

The psychiatrist's first comment says it all.

It seems to me that you over-identified with the role of a betrayed spouse. People do it often because, paradoxically, being a victim of a transgression gives their lives meaning,

Oh please, please, please take away this meaningful part of my life okay? I mean who knew that I was going along in such a meaningless way until the sh#t storm hit me, my children and impacted all of our lives in such a profound way. We were building our lives which became nothing less than upended as a result of infidelity. Yes, lots of sarcasm here.

Seeking2Forgive has a point,

I do think it's possible to become too invested in a victim identity. At some point it's important to take ownership of your life, either R or D, and try to find a happy life again.

BUT, this is a NECESSARY part of the process. We need to go though the journey and process so that we DON'T become endless victims. Ignoring it or asking such a victim to share the blame only embeds the individual further into victimhood. That is why the comment is so very disturbing. Sigh.

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

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id 8692501
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hysteria625 ( new member #79300) posted at 3:31 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

This brought back so much of the trauma my first MC wrought on me as I dealt with panic attacks and severe anxiety/depression stemming from WH’s EA.

In fairness though my goal when I set up the counseling was R - figuring out the whys of WH’s behavior (as this was EA #2) and mending our broken relationship.

For weeks her message to me was that if I wanted to save the M, I was going to have to "get over" my issues towards EACOW.

Sadly he proved me right over the weeks in MC and our last session told us we were wasting our money and time - he couldn’t stop hurting me and finally validated me by telling WH "any spouse in your W position would think you’re having a PA with COW based on your actions."

Thankfully my IC was validating me through the mid fuckery of MC.

Married 25 yearsTogether 29 years1st EA = Summer 20072nd EA = Winter 2021 / Dday 4/17/21

posts: 36   ·   registered: Aug. 19th, 2021
id 8692511
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 HowCouldSheDoIt (original poster member #78431) posted at 4:07 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

BUT, this is a NECESSARY part of the process. We need to go though the journey and process so that we DON'T become endless victims.

These are beautiful and true words!

I also thought about that part the psychiatrist wrote

People do it often because, paradoxically, being a victim of a transgression gives their lives meaning, which was otherwise lacking.

I might chalk this up to good advice, or a statement that is generally helpful or informative, but delivered with bad bedside manner.

I have not read any of Perel's books but I did watch her Ted Talk which is interesting but like you said TIF her talk does give affairs a bit of a pass, and gives me the impression that an affair is not shameful. She never said affairs are OK, but like I said, the feel is that an affair isn't shameful.

When I think about Perel I feel like a cheater is enlightened, alive, hip, while the betrayed is ignorant and neanderthal.

I love the quote that gets used here often, that "Why do people cheat" has one and only one answer "Because they chose to."

Me: BH Early 50's
Her: WW Early 50's
D-Day Nov 2020
Married 21 years before D-Day
3 children
Working toward reconciling. The most difficult thing I've had to do in my life.

posts: 271   ·   registered: Mar. 3rd, 2021
id 8692515
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gmc94 ( member #62810) posted at 4:15 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

All I can say is ugh... Thanks to ISSF and Seeking2Forgive's disclaimer for synthesizing my own thoughts.

YES - we CAN over identify with victim mentality after infidelity. So can ANYONE who experiences trauma (death of a parent/loved one, sexual assault, robbery, etc.). Part of the WORK is to learn to overcome/manage that trauma and victim state, and to learn to live and THRIVE with the cards we've been dealt.

And I'm 100% with LostInHisFog WRT the MC/Perel/Gottman model:

The Perrel/Gottam 50/50 mindset is brilliant when communication and disconnect is the only issue in the relationship but it's so harmful when infidelity is the cause of the breakdown.

I'd be curious to know what Perel or Gottman say when one party is physically abusive... is that also a "communication" issue? Is the "victim" also 50% to blame for being physically assaulted? This strikes me as the "you wouldn't have been raped if you weren't wearing that short skirt" mentality. Basic victim blaming/shaming. It IS possible to find compassion/empathy for an abuser - be it a rapist, murderer, cheater, etc., which is what I feel Perel is in to. However, that does not - for a second - minimize the harm/damage done to the VICTIM (and yes, they are victims).

Just SMDH.

M >25yrs/grown kids
DD1 1994 ONS prostitute
DD2 2018 exGF1 10+yrEA & 10yrPA... + exGF2 EA forever & "made out" 2017
9/18 WH hung himself- died but revived

It's rude to say "I love you" with a mouthful of lies

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id 8692517
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 HowCouldSheDoIt (original poster member #78431) posted at 4:21 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

And one more perspective that I feel is glossed over, but the danger. The possibility of real danger vs. an affair as this fun, free, romantic escape.

The wayward could be bringing disease to the unsuspecting BS. There could be a pregnancy that is a very lasting impact.

I mean, if I were HIV positive from this experience would a therapist be suggesting that I look at the affair with more curiosity?

Me: BH Early 50's
Her: WW Early 50's
D-Day Nov 2020
Married 21 years before D-Day
3 children
Working toward reconciling. The most difficult thing I've had to do in my life.

posts: 271   ·   registered: Mar. 3rd, 2021
id 8692520
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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 5:16 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

It seems to me that you over-identified with the role of a betrayed spouse.

I wonder how he diagnosed this. Maybe he jumped to an unwarranted conclusion. Maybe that's how he read what you wrote. I don't see that in what you write on SI ... but do you take the guy's comment as as criticism or feedback?

People do it often because, paradoxically, being a victim of a transgression gives their lives meaning, which was otherwise lacking.

Does anyone here doubt this? Isn't this a close kin to 'pain shopping', some of which we probably all do some of the time?

Sexual betrayal can be extremely painful, eviscerating, and I feel for you! On another hand (there is always another hand, isn’t it?) it may be a catalyst for growth - yours, your wive’s, and you as a couple.

And does anyone doubt this?

My W's A certainly was a catalyst for growth for me, my W, and our M. Betrayals certainly were catalysts for growth for other BSes who D'ed and for some WSes. Maybe the quoted statement is evidence that this shrink is for R in every case, but not necessarily - it's only one data point.

Esther Perel - I haven't read any of her books, but I've watched a couple of hours of her talks and interviews on youtube.

What I hear her saying - which may be different from what she writes - is 'what is', not 'what should be'. I've placed a 'hold' on State of Affairs at my library, so I'll see some of her writing when I get the book.

Remember, if you react strongly against some data that comes in, you have triggered. Maybe that trigger is healthy, maybe not.

Maybe the data is an indicator of something terribly wrong, but maybe the problem is that it challenges your world view. Most of us would rather keep our world view than do the work of integrating something new into it or - worse - having to make a significant change in what we think.

Healing requires honesty. The less honesty, the less healing. No honesty, no healing. That includes being honest with ourselves. If my WS points out one of my imperfections on or shortly after d-day, they may be right.

But none of my imperfections do anything to mitigate my WS's betrayal or my pain.

Look, when a WS harps on their BS's imperfections, it's negative for R. But BSes are wise not to give a fuck about R. BSes should focus on their own healing and let D/R follow organically from what happens during healing. And the closer one stays to reality, even when reality includes finding things one doesn't like about oneself, the easier it is to heal.

That's what is meant by 'Use what makes sense, ignore the rest'. That's 'use what makes sense', not 'use what you like'. Take data in critically. Don't simply accept what confirms your current beliefs. Figure out if new data aligns with reality/honesty better than your current beliefs do - and use the new data if they do.

Maybe we should say: Use what aligns with reality; ignore the rest.

[This message edited by sisoon at 5:18 PM, Sunday, October 10th]

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 26130   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8692525
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 7:44 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

My personal experience is that Gottman for the most part aligns with what we say here.

Atone, attune, attach. It's very much along the same lines. Atone includes a ban on blame shifting and defensiveness.

The specifics of how that is communicated by a specific MC might vary a lot. My first MC was not Gottman and sucked. My second one was Gottman trained and helped my wife to cut the minimization. She didn't participate in blame shifting or other damaging behaviors my previous MC essentially encouraged.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 1386   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8692551
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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 10:17 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

So, the therapist says we're playing the victim card, "to give our lives meaning"

That's classic. Can you imagine the damage this quack is doing on a daily basis?

My suffering, post DD, came from the fact that all meaning was stripped from life. That everything in my 25 year marriage suddenly came into question, seemed suddenly meaningless. Right down to every "I love you".

What gave my life meaning was a divorce. Then suddenly, my life had meaning again.

posts: 666   ·   registered: Oct. 25th, 2013
id 8692574
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RealityBlows ( member #41108) posted at 10:37 PM on Sunday, October 10th, 2021

Pain Shopping: I don't believe we do this to give our lives meaning where it was otherwise lacking.

I believe Pain Shopping for BS's is the same as that for veterans suffering from PTSD. The shock of DD, as is the shock of battle field stimuli, causes a profound rush of adrenaline. Probably the largest and most sustained rush of adrenaline you've ever experienced in your life. I've been in big city emergency services for for 35 years and DD was, by far, the biggest rush of adrenaline I ever experienced. Adrenaline is extremely addictive. You can feel that adrenaline rush every time your WS reveals some new detail about their affair. You can feel the rush reading SI stories in JFO. The combat vet, the firefighter feels it when they return to battle or relive a flashback. Think Hurt Locker.

I think there's a lot of deep psychology and physiology behind Pain Shopping and Rabbit Holes. I think it's more complicated than just a quest for meaning.

[This message edited by RealityBlows at 10:40 PM, Sunday, October 10th]

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id 8692575
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 1:06 AM on Monday, October 11th, 2021

I mean, if I were HIV positive from this experience would a therapist be suggesting that I look at the affair with more curiosity?

THAT.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

posts: 4531   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8692588
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