Betrayal signals an existential threat — possible death — not of a person but of a relationship. Partners of sex addicts who pass though the turmoil of discovery, confrontation, denial, only partial honesty, and the fear of loss experience genuine trauma. Many, if not most, present with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
They may experience shame, depression, hyper-vigilance, isolation, panic attacks insomnia, nightmares, and other expressions of emotional distress. Partners doubt themselves, lose confidence, lose the ability to trust, and may lose all hope of ever entering into a healthy relationship again. While this is very painful, these reactions are normal responses to these kind of relational attachment ruptures.
Dr. George Everly even characterizes the experience of betrayal trauma as akin to a physical injury.
Deep within the center of the brain, the cingulate cortex is believed to play a role in fostering attachment and bonding with others. Betrayal is likely to adversely affect these substrates. We know that violated attachments result in a rise in the immunosuppressive and catabolic hormone cortisol along with an apparent hypersensitivity within the amygdalocentric fight and flight centers of the limbic system (see Everly and Lating, 2013). The psychological injury of betrayal is likely to create a functional physical injury within the brain that is challenging to recover from, but not impossible.
LifeStar Sacramento treats individuals who struggle with behaviors and consequences of hypersexuality disorder AND their partners. We take the partner trauma experience seriously. This month’s blog posts will focus on the partner experience and how we help. The partner matters.
If you know of someone who may struggle with a sexual addiction and/or a spouse or partner who is suffering from the pain from this behavior, call now for help: 916-728-5433.