What do I Have?

July 21, 2005



When a spouse is diagnosed with some form of psychopathology, the odds are pretty strong that the other has some sort of companion psychopathology. For instance, according to one study, women with depression have a tendancy to hook up with men who have an antisocial personality disorder. In fact, antisocial personality disorder, which is more common in men than women, turns out to be a companion for a host of other ills. Likewise with depression.

Such a trend should give any spouse cause for pause before putting some sort of dysfunctional label on their partner.

Rob asked the question that begs to be asked: If Arwyn is sexually anorexic, what’s MY deal?

Before going into that it might be helpful to know a few things. First of all, I believe she brought this in before we were married. Which means that I brought in the matching condition as well. Second, her condition has worsened over the years into this full-blown thing. Third, she also had endometriosis before I met her which carries its own crap.

So let’s look at Digger’s psychopathology, shall we?

-Depression: First off, I do have my own issues with depression that I had long before Arwyn entered the picture. Severity, effect and duration have been variable, but have mostly been managable as in not reaching clinical significance.

-Addiction: I have talked about my smoking before and even quit for 6 weeks or so earlier this year. But I do use it to self-medicate anxiety, especially over the state of my marriage.

-Sex Addiction? I put a question mark on this one. I don’t know if I can rule it out, as yet. If given the chance, I certainly would give up smoking for sex! Am I putting a disproportionate emphasis on sex, sexual intimacy and a sexual relationship? I don’t know. It certainly does put my thinking a different track than if I didn’t desire sex. What is ‘normal’? I actually investigated this possibility long before I met Arwyn. It’s actually termed “Sex and Love Addiction.” Add the word Anonymous, and you have the SLAA, and I did go to a couple meetings in the late ’80’s. I also attended ACA meetings and quite liked 12 step groups. But I never truly found one where I felt I could fit in. I had no alcoholics in my family, and as far as sex, I wasn’t having much at all at the time. I looked into codependency, which probably was the best fit of them all but still didn’t really speak to me. “Sinners Anonymous” probably fits me as best as anything.

-Antisocial personality disorder: I do have to take a close look at this one due mostly to its association with my wife’s ills and symptoms. Also I have become much more withdrawn over the years, more judgemental and have more problems with internal regulation relating to dealing with others.

There are probably others. It is easy to label ourselves with a host of ills, and we probably do have several ills in our minds, just like our bodies. And there are professionals lined up to take our money and fix us, just like our bodies and our cars! Not every professional is going to be able to treat every illness. Just going in for counseling is no guarantee of anything. It helps to know yourself and know your particular flavors of problems.

The question, at this point for me, is to determine which is the most severe and needs to be treated first. Then comes the question of how aggressively to treat it. Then comes the options for treatment. This is rocket science of the mind. Brain surgery of a different sort. And these are decisions only an individual can make for themselves. A professional presents the options along with any recommendations and then an individual must decide. Any mental health professional not working with a client in providing a plan for treatment, along with goals and options should be suspect. It might be more cost effective to call a friend, a pastor, a family member or just blog about it. These are viable options and might be worth considering depending on the severity of the problem. More severe problems require more expertise and skill. And keep asking yourself the Dr. Phil question, “How good is this working for you?”

One more point to make is that when Arwyn said “I hope so” in response to my question, the sexual anorexia paradigm does make this comment make a lot more sense. It’s not as if she has total and complete control over this, as with all addictions and dysfunctions it is often characterized by ruling the person rather than the person being master of themselves. So finding a suitable label is at least helpful in seeing her POV and in understanding her own struggle a bit better. So now instead of anger and resentment (I’ll still have those, I suppose) I can have a bit of room for some compassion and sympathy. Afterall, as I’ve shown you all, I’m not altogether perfect myself.