I’ve been looking at the work of cognitive psychologist who are finding that having a more precise vocabulary (for instance, having specific names for light blues and dark blues, as Russian speakers do) tends to make people quicker at identifying sub
As a psychiatrist I find that friends frequently seek me out to discuss problematic events in their
lives; it comes with the territory and I’m usually happy to do it. But I was surprised and shaken to hear from an old friend that her husband of nearly 25 years had long been accruing and hiding from her a huge credit card debt (in the six figures). Even after divulging his secret, the husband had lied about the amount, with the sum increasing every time it was discussed. And right from the start, he refused to document where the money was spent. He left it for his wife to ruminate on, trying to puzzle it out. The disclosure wreaked financial and emotional havoc on their family.
After my initial shock at this unsuspected betrayal, I began to recall patients I had seen whose situations were not that dissimilar. They were people who had suddenly discovered that their life, as they knew it, was based on a long-term falsehood. They were people who might have stumbled across family secrets on the Internet or found old bills from a spouse’s long-hidden liaisons.
This predicament, a sudden revelation of new, pivotal information about one’s life, is the subject of many memoirs: Bliss Broyard, in “One Drop: My Father’s Hidden Life — A Story of Race and Family Secrets,” discovers shortly before her father’s death that his family of origin was black and that he had “passed” for white. Katha Pollitt, in “Learning to Drive,” writes about discovering the infidelity of her long-term partner. Geoffrey Wolff, in “The Duke of Deception,” unearths evidence that his father had lied about virtually every aspect of his past: his religion, education, career and military record.
But what if you’re not a writer and don’t have the option of metabolizing this kind of toxic experience through the process of writing? Most of us can’t seize control of the narrative by publishing our side of the story or get the sweet revenge of going public with the other’s misdeeds.
Discoveries of such secrets typically bring on tumultuous crises. Ironically, however, in my clinical experience, it is often the person who lied or cheated who has the easier time. People who transgressed might feel self-loathing, regret or shame. But they have the possibility of change going forward, and their sense of their own narrative, problematic though it may be, is intact. They knew all along what they were doing and made their own decisions. They may have made bad choices, but at least those were their own and under their control. Now they can make new, better choices.
And to an astonishing extent, the social blowback for such miscreants is often transient and relatively minor. They can change! Our culture, in fact, wholeheartedly supports such “new beginnings” — even celebrates them. It has a soft spot for the prodigal sons and daughters who set about repairing their ways, for tales of people starting over: reformed addicts, unfaithful spouses who rededicate themselves to family, convicted felons who find redemption in religion. Talk shows thrive on these tales. Perhaps it’s part of our powerful national belief in self-help and self-creation. It’s never too late to start anew.By ANNA FELS
OCTOBER 5, 2013
Polygraphs are an imperative part of a theraupeutic disclosure. Not only does the "truth set you free" but is allows for the trust building that is an absolute necessity for the coupleship to have a chance at restoring the damage and injury that has been violated.
Excerpt taken from "Spouses of Sex Addicts, Hope for the Journey Workbook, Francoise Mastroianni
The use of the sexual history by a therapist is the primary tool during counseling intake in evaluating secret sexual behaviors so destructive to the very core of any relationship or marriage between partners.
In most cases these secret sexual behaviors have been in play long before partners became one. However, they often escalate over time during relationships for a variety of reasons.
It is imperative for the therapist and then the unoffending partner to understand such medicating behaviors and their escalation. It is not unusual for those using masturbation to pornographic / lustful images to escalate to more dangerous voyeuristic behaviors or interactions with others which then ultimately lead to sexual contacts outside of a relationship.
Success in a client’s recovery is paramount on their being truthful and accountable for their actions so that appropriate counseling and boundaries can be established.
However, truth often takes a back seat to fear. As a result the client lies or minimizes their secret sexual behaviors and spends time stuck in denial and the fear of unknown consequences. This denial then undermines their credibility further with their partner as well as delays proper or affective treatment.
It is a reality of such addiction type counseling that fear will dominate both partners. The offending partner is fearful of the consequences of their actions (divorce, rejection, being cut off from their friends and family, hurting their partners more, etc.). The unoffending partner react further from the offenses admitted because of lies and manipulations from the past and investigative process often leading to counseling which then drive their fear of the unknown (divorce, not being worthy, getting a STD, losing the family unit, etc.).
Polygraph can play a unique role in this process after a therapist develops a sexual history with the client. Its use then shifts from a denial breaker (which it often is) to a tool of therapeutic evaluation to ensure that a full and complete disclosure has been made. Then and only then can a therapist be sure as to the behaviors they are treating and the establishment of realistic sobriety boundaries.
An important side bar to this therapeutic evaluation is that it also adds clarity to deal with the fear created by the infidelity process within the unoffending partner.
By the therapeutic utilization, set backs to counsel because of denial and lying can be prevented. Further disclosures of inappropriate behaviors coming after a disclosure is made and reconciliation is attempted is disastrous. A client will only get so many chances at reconciliation before the unoffending partner steps away. Therefore the offending partner must be truthful, show remorse, and be accountable or their chances of reconciliation are often doomed.
The basic thrust of a sexual history polygraph evaluation is to identify and clarify sexual interactions with others beside the unoffending partner (men, women, and children). This is crucial even when only inappropriate behaviors (pornography, voyeurism, masturbation, exposure, internet interactions, secret non-sexual relationships with others, etc.) short of sexual contact have been admitted. Not only is denial about contact with others often the norm for a lying offending partner, it will also be the worst case fear of the unoffending partner whether voiced or not.
Unoffending partners should be inventoried about what their concerns may be about their partner. Suggesting possible polygraph testing areas is a subtle way to identify them. Most unoffending partners may have pages of such questions; however it is the fear themes that dominate their questions which is revealing. This too can be a way of identifying areas for counsel as well for the unoffending partner.
Proper polygraph technique will only allow 3 to 5 relevant test questions depending on the examiner involved, and is also why the thrust at this point is to sexual contact with others. However fear of contact with prostitutes, co-workers, neighbors, relatives, or social acquaintances often surface and may need to be addressed.
If a number of questions persist with the unoffending partner, then additional testing may be suggested.
Sexual history disclosure polygraph testing protocol dictates the results should go first to the therapist. In this way the offending partner will have safety to discuss untruthful test results with the therapist in an effort to resolve areas of denial. This protocol then also does not set back the unoffending partner further with deceptive results. Once the therapist is satisfied that the offending partner’s disclosure is accurate, then a disclosure and reconciliation can be made with the unoffending partner.
Therapist seeking to learn more about polygraph testing for sexual disclosure should contact those therapists who use such a tool in their practice for further insight. Also the American Polygraph Association web site can provide
information on the suggested required testing protocol (PSCOT certification) necessary for such evaluations.
Further polygraph testing after the initial sexual history process is conducted to ensure that the offending partner is being truthful in maintaining their sobriety boundaries. Again the protocol is that results would first go to the therapist. Information as to violations or erosion of sobriety boundaries is then the offending partner’s home work with his therapist for the next few sessions. In this manner slips in the recovery process can be minimized, but also dealt with immediately to ensure total relapses back to previous destructive behaviors or sexual contact with others do not occur.
The continuing fears of the unoffending partner will also be an issue of review prior to such future tests after the sexual history. The idea being that the unoffending partner can reconcile with accountability while the offending partner re-establishes credibility with good polygraph results in the recovery process.
However, attention must be made to the unoffending partner’s concerns as the recovery process moves forward.
Written by Fred L. Hunter
I was not raised with much parental involvement. In fact, by today’s standards, my parents’ involvement could be considered criminal due to the level of abuse, absence, and neglect. But I did have a TV to watch, and that TV taught me all that I knew about bonding with others. However, it didn’t teach me that real relationships are not safe.
My favorite family sitcoms in the 1970s were The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. My idea of a normal life grew into an imaginary place where love and care would always solve the simple challenges of life. But Gilligan’s Island became my fantasy escape, a paradise island with all of the necessities in life, all carved from coconut trees, and the lovely girls—dazzling Ginger and the wholesomely beautiful Mary Ann. I still think of Mary Ann in a special way. She was someone my little boy self trusted and with whom I wanted to be.
One of the more industrious of my childhood friends often dragged treasures out of the trash in the alleyways. One day at school he said that he had found a whole box of Playboys. So, after school that day we sat quietly, flipping through over a 100 Playboy magazines. That was my first exposure to pornography.
Playboy was very crafty at the tease, luring you with images of naive sensuality and sexiness yet never quite revealing the more delicate features of the female form. Nonetheless, I never felt the same. Something deep within my seven-year-old mind had shifted. I felt different, more grown up but not comfortable, more of an edgy, uneasy feeling. I wanted to see more Playboys, that was for sure! On that day I unknowingly began a formidable journey—to know a real woman. I was armed for my quest with nearly completely dysfunctional emotions and a heavy cloak of a TV-induced sense of normalcy.
Early in my 17th year I became acquainted with the totality of the female form without the obscured poses and unfortunate staples—I lost my virginity. I now felt like a real man without the young man’s mystery gnawing at my psyche. I felt calm, soothed, and certain. Yes, this was a good feeling, one that I intended to feel forever.
As life progressed and girlfriends came into my life with greater ease and went away with less difficulty, I enjoyed the occasional porn mags, then videos and DVDs. Commercial pornography such as Penthouse became much more explicit by the mid 1990s, and by the time internet porn hit the globe, all sense of mystery was gone, and I felt like my sense of morality was slipping away.
I felt instantly rewarded from online porn, like one of those laboratory rats pounding on a button to send a pulse through an electrode into the pleasure center of my brain. The strong, knowing, and manly sensation that I briefly felt when I was 17 had become a seductive mirage toward which I clicked more frequently and for longer visits while alone with my computer. I would never reach that ultimate sensation but only sustain more tolerance for the opiate, of which I would consume longer and nastier doses. I became addicted to this fantasy, addicted to chasing a mirage that always lured me further, as if with the next click I would reach my destiny.
My love relationships always would become flat from silently critiquing my girlfriends and whenever possible, launching expeditions into solitary escapism. I craved the rush of new opportunity, the fuel to reach my goal, which was locked within my physical memory, trapped in blood and bones.
My body felt what it wanted and needed but could not comprehend that those drives and needs were not within the world in which I lived; they were a fantasy, and I was merely and simply the spectator of an illusion, an endless shopper. I was swept into feeling intimate bonds with total strangers who so often were exposing their sacredness in order to be paid, or even to pay their captors in some cases.
For me to awaken to this conflicting reality felt like Neo, awakening in The Matrix; my relational life was devoid of real connection. What I felt and experienced was simply an artificial reality, perpetuated by a manipulating sales campaign.
I became aware that I was leaving wreckage behind me in failed relationships and finally admitted to myself that it was me who was not present and remained shallow and critical. How could I be committed to one woman when so often I was feeling the fantasy bond of intimacy with 100s or even 1000s of others?
I’ve been in therapy for several years now, trying to reconcile my senses and regain, or actually build, my connections to real life, uncontrollable and filled with humans who are sometimes not so accepting. I’ve realized that by being hooked on the pleasure button of porn that I was ignoring and bypassing all of the real pleasures in relational and sexual life.
Some of my guy friends, who likely are addicts themselves, say that I’m getting wimpy and sensitive, and I see them becoming less and less in touch with their wives or girlfriends, kids, and businesses. Am I delusional, or am I awakening? Too sensitive, or becoming alive?
I realize that I may have been more prone to addiction due to my unhealthy childhood, but I have become aware that the influence of porn is powerful enough to derail even those who did have healthy and truly normal childhoods, with both parents present and functional in their lives.
As I struggle to see and feel the pure beauty within a real woman-being, I am often haunted by the effects and memory of my porn use, and even still yearn for sweet Mary Ann and the innocent attractions that I felt for her. The qualities she represented to me are here with me today in the real woman that I love, along with so many more qualities, because she is real, and I am not going to click away or change this channel!
First published at
Scott Allen is a father of two, an aspiring Taoist who enjoys writing and is a contributor to posarc.com where he is helping a website dedicated to building healthy intimacy.
POSARC; Partners of Sex Addicts Resource Center. www.posa.org
Francoise Mastroianni, lcpc.,ccsas.,cpts