June 18 Fact
Infidelity and PTSD
Can PTSD develop after a person discovers that their significant other has been unfaithful, used pornography, or had an emotional affair? I don’t know about you, but I would answer with an emphatic YES.
Psychiatrists and counselors have noticed in recent years that the individuals who are betrayed often exhibit many of the classic symptoms of PTSD:
- Repeated intrusive thoughts (flashbacks)
- Extreme emotions, from threatening suicide, to dishing out uncontrollable anger, to persistent blaming and shaming of the betrayer
- Numbness; isolation
- Overly watchful for threats or danger
- Can’t get over the shock; just can’t believe it happened
- Inability to focus or think logically
And–professionals say–now that they recognize the symptoms of trauma, they realize what they’d been seeing all along: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the betrayed party.
Much discussion rages about PTSD developing from infidelity. The DSM V (official mental health manual for professionals) does not recognize betrayal as trauma because there was no threat of serious harm or death.
I beg to differ. When I saw my husband betray me before my very eyes, I suddenly lost my life. He wiped out our past (he had already been unfaithful during courtship), my present (who am I if I’m not the wife of an upright man?), and my future (this crisis could kill our marriage, and no alternative came to my damaged mind).
My opinion doesn’t really matter, of course. And the name of the condition isn’t important. Whether Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder or PTSD, what matters is that now mental health professionals better understand how profoundly the betrayed person is wounded.
My takeaway is that when this kind of assault takes place, the betrayed person’s shattered life deserves all the professional and spiritual treatments that were once available to only those diagnosed with PTSD.
What’s your takeaway?