Therapy That Works...

Why People Cheat - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wondering why people cheat? Who's more likely to leave the marriage after?

Watch Dr. Sylvia's responses on CBS 11 from tonight!

http://www.cbs11tv.com/video?id=57511@ktvt.dayport.com

Check back later for new vlogs!

How To Catch A Liar, Part 3 - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

How to Know if You’re Partner is Lying To You

Lying in America is sadly more common than ever with current studies estimating that we lie in about one fourth of our interactions with others. Most of these lies are committed to make our lives easier or to set boundaries with others. But the majority of Americans believe that you shouldn’t lie to your partner. Since trust is the foundation of love, lying can undermine even the best of love affairs. So why do all of us want to believe our partners so much?

Skin In The Game:

When you’re in a relationship, you want to believe your partner. You have “skin in the game” and have invested in this person. When he begins to lie, it's hard to believe that that he thinks so little of you. You don't want to believe that he would make up a lie, sell the lie to you and then watch while you believe it.

Unfortunately, most of us end up filling in the blanks of information a liar omits in an effort to see him in a positive light. If he is lying and we work to believe him, he is basically getting away with it.

Gender Differences in Lying:

One study found that men and women lie at the same rates but about different things. Women are more likely to lie to make you feel good while men rearrange the truth to make themselves look better.

Psychos And Sociopaths:

Remember that some people lie flawlessly and are difficult to catch due to their skill. Think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. They are able to control their emotions, their thoughts, and their bodies simultaneously. The flip side of that coin is that these people are generally sociopaths or psychopaths—definitely not dating material!

Now, if your partner is lying to you – your decision about whether or not to stay ultimately comes down to how invested you are in the relationship.

Here are a few tips depending on how long you’ve been in the relationship:

Early Liars Never Change:

Lying early in the relationship is a big sign of dishonesty. If they’re already lying to you in the beginning, what makes you think they won’t lie to you later on? Pay attention and get out quickly if you hear 2-3 lies in the first few weeks of a relationship. Please don’t pretend that everything is just fine. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache later on.

Road To Recovery:

For long term relationships, you need to confront the problem immediately, set a limit, and establish a zero tolerance policy.

If there is a problem in the relationship, don’t linger—get help and resolve the issues. Most couples wait an average of six years before they seek help - and it's usually too late.

Lying Can Snowball:

Lying is a serious issue and tends to snowball. Rearranging the truth can get to be a bad habit for even the best of us. However, you can go from lying by omission to outright deceit. What seemed innocent in the beginning becomes a habit of pathological lying. Don’t let lying take over -- you won’t know what’s real and what’s a lie.

Source:

Paul Ekman’s excellent work on lying including Unmasking the Face and Emotions Revealed

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

ABC News, Study: We All Tell Lies Over the Phone, February 25, 2004

How To Catch A Liar, Part 3 - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

How to Know if You’re Partner is Lying To You

Lying in America is sadly more common than ever with current studies estimating that we lie in about one fourth of our interactions with others. Most of these lies are committed to make our lives easier or to set boundaries with others. But the majority of Americans believe that you shouldn’t lie to your partner. Since trust is the foundation of love, lying can undermine even the best of love affairs. So why do all of us want to believe our partners so much?

Skin In The Game:

When you’re in a relationship, you want to believe your partner. You have “skin in the game” and have invested in this person. When he begins to lie, it's hard to believe that that he thinks so little of you. You don't want to believe that he would make up a lie, sell the lie to you and then watch while you believe it.

Unfortunately, most of us end up filling in the blanks of information a liar omits in an effort to see him in a positive light. If he is lying and we work to believe him, he is basically getting away with it.

Gender Differences in Lying:

One study found that men and women lie at the same rates but about different things. Women are more likely to lie to make you feel good while men rearrange the truth to make themselves look better.

Psychos And Sociopaths:

Remember that some people lie flawlessly and are difficult to catch due to their skill. Think Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. They are able to control their emotions, their thoughts, and their bodies simultaneously. The flip side of that coin is that these people are generally sociopaths or psychopaths—definitely not dating material!

Now, if your partner is lying to you – your decision about whether or not to stay ultimately comes down to how invested you are in the relationship.

Here are a few tips depending on how long you’ve been in the relationship:

Early Liars Never Change:

Lying early in the relationship is a big sign of dishonesty. If they’re already lying to you in the beginning, what makes you think they won’t lie to you later on? Pay attention and get out quickly if you hear 2-3 lies in the first few weeks of a relationship. Please don’t pretend that everything is just fine. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache later on.

Road To Recovery:

For long term relationships, you need to confront the problem immediately, set a limit, and establish a zero tolerance policy.

If there is a problem in the relationship, don’t linger—get help and resolve the issues. Most couples wait an average of six years before they seek help - and it's usually too late.

Lying Can Snowball:

Lying is a serious issue and tends to snowball. Rearranging the truth can get to be a bad habit for even the best of us. However, you can go from lying by omission to outright deceit. What seemed innocent in the beginning becomes a habit of pathological lying. Don’t let lying take over -- you won’t know what’s real and what’s a lie.

Source:

Paul Ekman’s excellent work on lying including Unmasking the Face and Emotions Revealed

The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker

ABC News, Study: We All Tell Lies Over the Phone, February 25, 2004

Predictive Factors of Divorce - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

The stunning announcement that the Gores were ending their forty year old marriage raises new questions about the longevity of long term marriages.

We do know that the Gores, as with many couples of that generation, had several risks factors for divorce:

Higher Divorce Rate for Older Marriages: According to research, marriages which originated in the 1960s and 1970s have higher divorce rates. Couples who married in the 1970s have a 47% divorce rate after thirty years.

Young Age at Marriage: The age when you marry is highly significant. Couples who married in their late teens or early twenties in the 70s are especially at risk.

Decades to Go: The Gores are still relatively young, affluent and well connected. In their early sixties, there are many years to come and many boomers long for an emotional connection they may not have realized in their earlier marriage.

While older couples may be splitting more, overall the marital stability rates seem to be improving with each decade and with female education. Among female college graduates, the ten year divorce rate for those married in the 1990s is just 16%. The divorce rate for the same demographic from the 1970s is 23%.

In addition, the increased education, economic self sufficiency and empowerment of today’s young twentysomething females lead to delayed marriage.

The average age for first marriages is 26 for females and 28 for men. With more education, the ages bump up anywhere from two to four years.

Older people just seem to make better marital decisions. They know themselves better, have a clearer understanding of the spousal attributes they are seeking and have the ability to assess a relationship without financial factors being so central. They can really engineer a wonderful beginning to the marriage since they are more mature in their careers and behavior. The marriage enjoys a profound kick start with older twentysomethings and thirtysomethings who invest enormous time cultivating and deepening the marital regard in the early years. Such investments create a sturdy and resilient marriage that will last a lifetime for many of them.

Sources:

Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History

Tara Parker Pope, For Better, The Science of a Good Marriage.

How To Detect Domestic Violence - By Chris Gearing

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

by Dr. Sylvia Gearing

The tragic death of University Virginia athlete, Yeardley Love, has raised the question once again of domestic violence in young couples.

Here’s what the latest statistics tell us about this frightening phenomenon:

  • Just under 45% of this age group have experienced violence in a relationship either before or during college.
  • Relationship violence seems to peak prior to college for most kids with 53% of women and 27% of men reporting victimization.
  • Emotional violence was the most common type of violence at all ages but is more common in high school.
  • Both sexual and emotional violence increase in college, if not addressed properly.

How can you detect if someone you know is being abused? Here are the signs:

  • Isolation: Abusive partners prefer that their victim remain isolated and unable to turn to others. In addition, victims isolate themselves from friends and family.
  • Increasing Anxiety and Depression: Domestic abuse victims show signs of anxiety and depression such as agitation, sadness, withdrawal, low energy, emotional mood swings, tearfulness and a decline in functioning at school.
  • Avoiding The Truth: People who are being abused are shell shocked. They are literally frozen by the stress. Many kids from good homes are naive about what abuse is, normalize the actions of the abusive partner and make excuses for the abuser until it is too late.
  • Social Shedding: Victims of emotional of sexual abuse by a partner seem to shed their former relationships—best friends, family connections, socializing patterns. They stop responding to others and deny they are being harassed.
  • Progressive Pain: Look for signs of increasing disconnection from others, less responsiveness and avoidant behavior. They are locked in a cage of agony and don’t know how to ask for help.

So what can you do to help?

Many family and friends prefer not to get involved out of respect of personal boundaries. However, this is one time that you need to speak up. Caring about this person now involves compassionate intervention. Please, do not turn your back.

Gather Evidence: Collect the observations you have had and organize them into a coherent conversation. Specify behaviors you have seen and conversations you may have overheard or read online or through texting.

Stand Your Ground: Domestic violence at this age is especially lethal since adolescent and young adult brains are often immature and impulsive. If you present your evidence and they are still resistant, go to their community of friends and ask them to help. For more serious cases, please seek out a psychologist. However difficult these steps are, they may very well save her life.

Sources: JAMA and Archives Journals (July 8, 2008) Relationship Violence Appears Common Among College Students

Tiger Woods Press Conference - By Chris Gearing

Friday, February 19, 2010

Infidelity Trauma: Tiger Woods Sex Scandal

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

TXA 21 News, February 19, 2010

After three months of silence, Tiger Woods finally discussed the sex scandal that has overshadowed his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren. But many of us are now wondering if this is “too little too late.” Can Tiger once again win the confidence of his wife and his fans?

So how well did Tiger handle himself in today’s new conference? Was he effective in apologizing to his wife and his fans? Did he pull it off?

Public apologies about such important events are always difficult to pull off due to our own cynicism about how genuine they are. But Tiger seemed to deliver both a heartfelt and a truthful review of the facts. He expressed remorse, a capable understanding of the trauma he has inflicted on everyone and an acknowledgment of the severe consequences for his irresponsible behavior. This live apology was especially difficult for a man who is as exacting and precise in his public behavior. For now, he seems to have delivered an effective apology. It will be a matter of time to see if he continues his marital fidelity.

But lets shift away from Tiger and focus on how Elin is doing in this situation.

Trauma is Lack of Power: Trauma is a condition of powerlessness and when it is inflicted within a marriage, it is especially devastating psychologically. Trauma is magnified exponentially when it inflicted by the spouse.

Life Rearranged: Infidelity “rearranges” life for the person who has been betrayed. When you are reeling from infidelity, previous formulas about life no longer apply. Trust is shot, the past and present are redefined and the future is an uncertain road that stretches on into oblivion. Your partner becomes someone “you no longer know.”

Isolated and Alone: Infidelity trauma is especially difficult especially when a celebrity is involved. The couple usually decides to withdraw into silence, as the affair is played out on the public stage. The betrayed partner is denied access to the social support of others and the secrecy deepens the feeling of disconnection and isolation.

Marital Crime: Infidelity is a marital “crime” and systematic concealment and falsification characterizes every affair. If you don’t lie, you can’t cheat. When you are the recipient of lying and infidelity, you have to go back and rewrite all of your past and present experiences. You begin to doubt your own perceptions since reality has now been redefined by these discoveries.

Especially in the case of infidelity, the situation can go from bad to worse rather quickly.

There are specific factors but there is a simple and direct correlation between the severity of the trauma and the effect on the partner.

The impact on the betrayed partner depends on these factors:

  • How Long the Affair Lasted
  • The Number of People Involved (number of partners or the birth of a child)
  • Who was Involved (Best Friends versus Strangers)
  • The Level of Falsification and Concealment
  • How Long It Took to Discover (Affairs that involve incremental disclosure are much harder to handle. Such disclosures affect the basic feelings of control, safety and predictability in the offended partner. Overwhelming anxiety increases as the progressive discoveries are made.)

Who usually leaves after an affair?

Without a doubt, the one who is betrayed is more likely to ultimately leave the marriage. A profound discontent seems to disrupt their faith and allegiance to the partner and over time, they may become disillusioned. Although they often agree to stay in the marriage initially, they usually do not get the right treatment for trauma which sets them up to gradually detach from the marriage. The erosion of affection is a progression, not an event, and many people—including the spouse who has cheated-- are shocked when the betrayed partner finally calls it quits.

What about Tiger’s fans? Can they ever forgive him?

Separate the Man from the Image: Celebrities are just people and it is important to understand that Tiger made a series of terrible decisions systematically. He was his own worst enemy and will ultimately pay heavily for his behavior.

Self-Indulgence Overran Good Judgment: Understand exactly what happened. The explanations for cheating can be complex but they always boil down to one basic reason—we cheat when our emotions overrun our better judgment. Tiger allowed his self-indulgence to define him repeatedly. He was responsible regardless of any other issues such as addiction that may be present.

Deception is Hard to See: Although it is inexcusable, the entitlements and security of celebrities facilitates this kind of self-destructive behavior. The irresponsibly of the affair stands in stark contrast to every other part of that person’s public life. This was especially true of Tiger who was a public paragon of virtue and self-discipline.

Rules Don’t Apply to Me: Although it is no excuse, Tiger’s behavior reflects the social narcissism that defines us. We just don’t hold people to the same standards we used to observe. Affairs flourish in the current era of epidemic narcissism. We no longer value loyalty, sacrifice and duty as much as we did a generation ago. Tiger is the latest example of this erosion in values.

Finally, the ultimate question: how does Tiger win back his wife?

If the trauma has not been too severe and if the couple still possesses a deep affection for one another, it is wise to move forward. Marital outcomes can be positive in many of these cases. They need to hire the best team of psychologists who are specialists in trauma recovery to guides them through this process. They must not try to do it on their own. It is impossible to be objective in the wake of such strong emotions.

If you stay together, here are the initial steps you must take:

Reframe the Affair as Traumatic Event: The couple must view all aspects of infidelity as a distinct. The betrayed party may well be experiencing a posttraumatic stress disorder. The couple must reframe infidelity anxiety within a trauma model.

Responsibility for the Affair: The full responsibility for the affair must be fully assumed by the betrayer. Although there may have been mitigating circumstances, the decision to cheat was ultimately made by the betrayer. Remorse must be repeatedly expressed and demonstrated.

Safety and Predictability: This is when the betrayer must step up. He must establish a sense of safety, predictability and emotional containment by pledging fidelity, openness to all questions and constant accountability. The ultimate responsibility for transparency is with the partner who inflicted the pain.

Story of The Affair: Together the partners must create a clear story of the events of the affair, the decisions that were made and how the affair or affairs were ended.

Mental Health Issues Addressed: Any sexual or chemical addictions or issues with mood disorders in the wandering partner must be addressed and resolved.

Reemergence as a New Couple: Redefining ourselves as stronger, wiser and more engaged with one another are all hallmark strengths of people who survive infidelity. There is an abiding ability to forgive and to remember the unique aspects of the marriage that are worth fighting for.

Sources:

Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, by Judith Herman, 1997.

Principles of Trauma Therapy: A Guide to Symptom Evaluation and Treatment by John N. Briere and Catherine Scott, 2006

Infidelity Trauma: Tiger & Elin Woods - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Infidelity Trauma: Tiger Woods Sex Scandal

TXA 21 News

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, February 18, 2010

After three months of silence, Tiger Woods finally discussed the sex scandal that has overshadowed his marriage to Swedish model Elin Nordegren. But many of us are now wondering if this is “too little too late.” Can Tiger once again win the confidence of his wife and his fans?

How has this scandal affected Tiger's wife, Elin?

Trauma is Lack of Power: Trauma is a condition of powerlessness and when it is inflicted within a marriage, it is especially devastating psychologically. Trauma is magnified exponentially when it inflicted by the spouse.

Life Rearranged: Infidelity “rearranges” life for the person who has been betrayed. When you are reeling from infidelity, previous formulas about life no longer apply. Trust is shot, the past and present are redefined and the future is an uncertain road that stretches on into oblivion. Your partner becomes someone “you no longer know.”

Isolated and Alone: Infidelity trauma is especially difficult especially when a celebrity is involved. The couple usually decides to withdraw into silence, as the affair is played out on the public stage. The betrayed partner is denied access to the social support of others and the secrecy deepens the feeling of disconnection and isolation.

Marital Crime: Infidelity is a marital “crime” and systematic concealment and falsification characterizes every affair. If you don’t lie, you can’t cheat. When you are the recipient of lying and infidelity, you have to go back and rewrite all of your past and present experiences. You begin to doubt your own perceptions since reality has now been redefined by these discoveries.

As mistress after mistress have come to light, one has to wonder - how bad can it get? Here are some factors that can make infidelity worse:

The impact on the betrayed partner depends on these factors:

  • How Long the Affair Lasted
  • The Number of People Involved (number of partners or the birth of a child)
  • Who was Involved (Best Friends versus Strangers)
  • The Level of Falsification and Concealment
  • How Long It Took to Discover (Affairs that involve incremental disclosure are much harder to handle. Such disclosures affect the basic feelings of control, safety and predictability in the offended partner. Overwhelming anxiety increases as the progressive discoveries are made.)

Who usually leaves after an affair (especially of this magnitude)?

Without a doubt, the one who is betrayed is more likely to ultimately leave the marriage. A profound discontent seems to disrupt their faith and allegiance to the partner and over time, they may become disillusioned. Although they often agree to stay in the marriage initially, they usually do not get the right treatment for trauma which sets them up to gradually detach from the marriage. The erosion of affection is a progression, not an event, and many people—including the spouse who has cheated-- are shocked when the betrayed partner finally calls it quits.

You are most likely wondering how Tiger's fans and family are supposed to ever forgive him.

Separate the Man from the Image: Celebrities are just people and it is important to understand that Tiger made a series of terrible decisions systematically. He was his own worst enemy and will ultimately pay heavily for his behavior.

Self-Indulgence Overran Good Judgment: Understand exactly what happened. The explanations for cheating can be complex but they always boil down to one basic reason—we cheat when our emotions overrun our better judgment. Tiger allowed his self-indulgence to define him repeatedly. He was responsible irregardless of any other issues such as addiction that may be present.

Deception is Hard to See: Although it is inexcusable, the entitlements and security of celebrities facilitates this kind of self-destructive behavior. The irresponsibly of the affair stands in stark contrast to every other part of that person’s public life. This was especially true of Tiger who was a public paragon of virtue and self-discipline.

Rules Don’t Apply to Me: Although it is no excuse, Tiger’s behavior reflects the social narcissism that defines us. We just don’t hold people to the same standards we used to observe. Affairs flourish in the current era of epidemic narcissism. We no longer value loyalty, sacrifice and duty as much as we did a generation ago. Tiger is the latest example of this erosion in values.

Finally, the ultimate question: How does Tiger win his wife back?

If the trauma has not been too severe and if the couple still possesses a deep affection for one another, it is wise to move forward. Marital outcomes can be positive in many of these cases. They need to hire the best team of psychologists who are specialists in trauma recovery to guides them through this process. They must not try to do it on their own. It is impossible to be objective in the wake of such strong emotions.

If you stay together, here are the initial steps you must take:

Reframe the Affair as Traumatic Event: The couple must view all aspects of infidelity as a distinct. The betrayed party may well be experiencing a posttraumatic stress disorder. The couple must reframe infidelity anxiety within a trauma model.

Responsibility for the Affair: The full responsibility for the affair must be fully assumed by the betrayer. Although there may have been mitigating circumstances, the decision to cheat was ultimately made by the betrayer. Remorse must be repeatedly expressed and demonstrated.

Safety and Predictability: This is when the betrayer must step up. He must establish a sense of safety, predictability and emotional containment by pledging fidelity, openness to all questions and constant accountability. The ultimate responsibility for transparency is with the partner who inflicted the pain.

Story of The Affair: Together the partners must create a clear story of the events of the affair, the decisions that were made and how the affair or affairs were ended.

Mental Health Issues Addressed: Any sexual or chemical addictions or issues with mood disorders in the wandering partner must be addressed and resolved.

Reemergence as a New Couple: Redefining ourselves as stronger, wiser and more engaged with one another are all hallmark strengths of people who survive infidelity. There is an abiding ability to forgive and to remember the unique aspects of the marriage that are worth fighting for.

Sources:

"Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror," by Judith Herman, 1997.

"Principles of Trauma Therapy: A Guide to Symptom Evaluation and Treatment" by John N. Briere and Catherine Scott, 2006

Parental Alienation At The Holidays - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Parental Alienation During The Holidays

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

TXA 21 News, Dec 17, 2009

During the holidays, millions of children from divorced families will be spending time with their parents separately. But what happens when a parent engages in parental alienation--a systematic campaign to discredit the other parent and alienate the child?

Parental alienation is becoming a major problem for American children.

Systematic Campaign of Alienation: Parental alienation is a systematic campaign of character assassination. It is not gender related or age related. One parent is determined to alienate the child’s affections toward the other parent or toward a grandparent. It is most prevalent in child custody cases and it is worse at the holidays as parents have increased access to their children.

Spans the Range: Parental Alienation spans the range from outright malicious intent, legal battles and reckless accusations to careless, self serving comments that undermine the child’s view of their parent.

Emotional Abuse of Children: Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse of the child. As one expert said “Bad mouth your ex and you simultaneously bad mouth your child.” (Richard Warshak, Ph.D.)

Legitimized by Self Absorbed Culture: Most divorces involve pain and suffering and parental alienation flourishes in a family culture of dissent and conflict. However, the epidemic of narcissism that has defined our country in recent years legitimizes winning at any cost. Savage and unethical behavior is justified even if it involves waging war against an innocent party.

Parents engage in parental alienation because of the following reasons:

Revenge: There are complex reasons to explain this behavior but all explanations boil down to one principle reason. People receive secondary gain from inflicting pain on people they believe have wronged them. The mind of the child becomes the battlefield for revenge.

Child is Perceived as a Possession: For some parents, adequate boundaries with their children are absent. They child is perceived as an extension of themselves. They inflict parental alienation on the other parent to banish him or her so they can have the child to themselves.

Compensating for Inadequacy and Guilt: Parents may try to resolve their low self-esteem and sense of failure by reinforcing their belief that they are the best parent. Posturing as the superior parent makes them feel better even if it is at the expense of their child. They have no conscience about the suffering of the child and the other parent.

Children suffer from parental alienation in the following ways:

Brainwashed by Lies: These kids are basically brainwashed and now regard their targeted parent as the enemy or as a worthless afterthought. This kind of betrayal can occur even in the most tender and loving relationships. Tragically, such division can last for years.

Contempt, Rejection and Disrespect: They show contempt, rejection, and disrespect for the targeted parent. These comments are often irrational, insulting and traumatizing to the targeted parent.

Rehearsed Answers: They have been taught to orient to the controlling needs of the alienating parent at all costs. They are often unable to specify why they dislike the targeted parent or they exaggerate faults of their parent to justify their rejection. Their comments parrot the alienator’s words and feelings.

Long Term Damage: There is minimal data on the long-term effects of such alienation on kids. However, we do know that the earlier the separation from a parent, the more traumatic it is for the child. The basic tenants of loving relationships—trust, loyalty, and forgiveness are never learned and the child may struggle for a lifetime because of these experiences.

Parents can protect themselves and their children by taking the following steps:

Educate Yourself: Parental alienation can be an elusive phenomenon to prove especially in a highly intense forum such as child custody. There are several books with great resources that are “must reads” for parents (see below).

Remain Calm: Understand that you have been systematically undermined and that you are taking every step to remediate the situation. Focus on what you can control and don’t stress about other factors. Do not lose your temper, reject your child or insult your ex in front of your child.

Work with Great Experts: Hire a psychologist and a lawyer who are proven experts in parental alienation. The therapist must acknowledge the massive psychological impact such alienation has on the child and targeted parent. Your attorney needs to possess a solid understanding of this type of emotional abuse and the substantial legal skills to protect your child and your interests.

For more information on Dr. Sylvia please go to www.gearingup.com

Resources:

"Divorce Poison," Dr. Richard Warshak

"The Custody Revolution," by Dr. Richard Warshak

"Divorce Casualties: Understanding Parental Alienation," Dr. Douglas Darnall

Is Tiger A Sex Addict? - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Tiger A Sex Addict?

Dr. Sylvia Gearing

TXA 21 News, Dec 10, 2009

With the growing number of mistresses being identified in the Tiger Woods scandal (nine so far), many are wondering if the legendary golfer may be a sex addict. Why do so many famous men suffer with a compulsion to cheat and is it because of sexual addiction?

America is reeling from the barrage of new disclosures from former affair partners of the famed golfer. Now there are whispers that Tiger may actually be a sex addict. This begs the obvious question - what is sexual addiction?

Sexual addiction is a persistent and escalating pattern of sexual behaviors acted out despite potential negative consequences to the self and others (Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health). Secrecy, systematic betrayal and a sense of entitlement to using other people sexually are all hallmarks of sexual addiction.

Whenever you see any kind of irrational, highly self-destructive behavior that just doesn’t add up, be on the lookout for some kind of addictive behavior behind it.

As an addiction progresses, there are graduated levels of importance in the addict’s life:

Here are the general stages of addiction:

Internal Shift: The addict begins to turn toward behavior that is relieving of their stress or changes their mood to the euphoric or exhilarating. The highly destructive aspect of the addictive behavior is minimized or denied (“I can quit anytime I want”) even though such behavior is a direct assault on the faith and trust of others around them.

Lifestyle Change: A behavioral dependency on the addiction begins to enter the picture. His life is altered to accommodate the addiction even if he becomes reckless and self-destructive. He moves deeper into the sabotaging behavior.

Life Breakdown: The addiction has now taken over. The individual builds his life around the emotional release from acting out destructively. At this point, nothing matters to the addict but the acquisition of the addictive object. The obsession with the addiction causes a trance state. People don’t matter, commitments are broken and honesty isn’t even a part of the conversation.

It is important to differentiate the motivations for sexual addiction:

Bio-chemically Depressed: Depression can cause irrational, self-destructive behavior in individuals (particularly men) who often do not recognize their depression or their errant behavior. Turning to sex is a direct effort to escape their pain, frustration and helplessness. They experience a numbing of emotional connection and restructure their behavior as they begin to serve the addiction first and foremost.

Personality Disorders: Many people with chronic developmental and personality disorders such as narcissistic or socio-pathic personalities are prime candidates for sexual addiction. To them, all people are a means to an end and they are entitled to the shameless sexual exploitation of others.

Unfortunately, narcissistic celebrities are abundant and it is only a matter of time for many of them before some sort of addiction enters the picture.

With the recent rash of cheating men in the new, you may be wondering — are men more vulnerable to sexual addiction than women are?

Both genders can become addicted to sex but show highly different patterns:

Sexually addicted men are often attracted to high status positions such as entertainment or politics where they have an endless supply of beautiful women willing to engage. They shamelessly exploit women, idealize the next new girl until she loses her novelty and then throw her away as they pursue for a new conquest.

Women show a much different pattern. They often substitute sex for love and fidelity and become the willing partners to exploitative men. They begin to dress seductively and to augment every aspect of their physical appearance. Their seduction of the idealized partner and the admiration they derive become the addiction. They remain dependent upon the attention of the narcissistic, demanding partner who is now in control.

However, there is hope for recovery from sexual addiction:

It is quite possible if there is an absolute commitment to change and to getting the appropriate help. Since addictions hijack the brain chemistry and the judgment of otherwise cogent people, specialists in the addiction field who are experienced, savvy and realistic about the long road to recovery are the best treatment professionals. Twelve-step recovery programs are essential parts of treatment for sexual addiction along with intense individual therapy focusing on developing a new, empowered self firmly rooted in reality and concern for others.

Tiger Woods' Infidelity - By Chris Gearing

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tiger Wood’s Infidelity Ordeal

December 3, 2009 

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

Superstar golfer Tiger Woods has now joined the long list of celebrities who have been unfaithful in their marriages. To add to the scandal, recently released phone calls and 300 text messages between the golfer and his affair partner have highlighted the central part technology plays in modern affairs.

As we see in the Tiger Woods story, technology is so central to cheating now. Why is this phenomenon increasing?

Technological Superhighway: Technology is the communication superhighway that facilitates clandestine contact. If you want to move with stealth and with speed, you move with technology. Now with a simple cell phone, you can orchestrate an entire rendezvous quickly. Having an affair has never been easier.

Technology Hides Lying: It is also easier to lie with technology. Seventy two percent of lying occurs through technology. Cell phones, texting and Internet chatter are rife with deceit. It is easier to craft a lie when you are not facing the recipient.

Social Networking Sites Increasing: Face book claims to have 350 active users with 35 million people updating their profiles on a daily basis. More than 65 million use their mobile devices to stay connected. Such sites, while laden with social benefits, are easily misused to facilitate affairs.

With this year of busted affairs and scandals, it may seem like powerful men are cheating more often. Here’s why:

Men and women have always cheated but technology is making it more difficult to hide. But there are several personality factors that explain the increase in infidelity in the “Age of Celebrity.”

Driven Personalities: Tiger Woods is known for his self-discipline and elegance on the links. Unfortunately, highly driven personalities may also lapse into impulsive, irrational behaviors that are counter to their public image.

Strengths Become Weaknesses: Over time, the very strengths that account for their achievements—that self-discipline, self- control and single mindedness--can result in disastrous lapses of judgment. Fueled by an impossible schedule and long absences from home, they may lose that internal compass that has served them so well.

Self-Importance Increases: Oftentimes, the perks allotted to celebrities can create an exaggerated sense of entitlement and self-importance. They can engage in self destructive, impulsive behaviors because they feel entitled to play by a different set of rules. In their own minds, they rationalize their misbehavior or disregard it altogether.

Let’s not forget that there was a female side to the equation, too. Why do so many women pursue these public figures, even when they obviously know that they are married?

Aggressive Women: We underestimate the predatory nature of women, especially when competing for powerful men. Young women cheat more than men now and they crave the aura of influential partners. Celebrities are viewed as special conquests. The affair partner elevates her status by aligning with a powerful man. He is a “notch” in her belt.

Star Power Increases Propositioning: Eighty seven percent of men claim that they have been approached for a short-term sexual fling. Male celebrities have many more propositions because of their star power. According to one study, seventy percent of married celebrities with a net worth of over 10 million dollars have strayed.

Men are Beguiled by Beauty: Men are drawn to the visual and beautiful women have intense influence with most men. Male celebrities whose fame is often based on charisma and attractiveness value such qualities in affair partners. Women spend nearly ten times as much on beauty enhancing products when compared to men.

And finally, the number one question that I hear in my marriage counseling sessions when adultery has occurred: Is it possible to salvage the marriage?

Affairs change a relationship forever. It is a wound that many marriages cannot survive. However, marriages that continue after affairs require the following steps:

Technological Transparency: As we saw in the Woods case, technology was a huge part of the deceit. New standards of absolute transparency must be instituted and observed rigidly. The motto needs to be, “lose the technology, and gain the wife.”

New Limitations on Freedom: Unlimited freedom creates opportunity, which can create impulsive behavior. If you have cheated, you must restrict your behavior and rigorously self monitor. Inevitably, you will encounter new temptations and it is up to you to make the right call.

New Emotional Accountability: Choosing to stay after infidelity requires a new definition of the marital expectations and a massive determination on both partner’s part. Most of all, post affair marriages must have emotional accountability on the betrayer’s part. In turn the betrayed party must demonstrate a willingness to forgive and to create a new relationship.

For more information about Dr. Gearing, please go to www.gearingup.com

Sources for the is Story:

The First Sex by Helen Fisher

Why Women Have Sex by Cindy M. Meston and David M. Buss


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