Monday, November 22, 2010

Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

My therapist often tells me that I exhibit the signs of someone who has post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Someone with this disorder experiences a heightened state of anxiety and anguish over a traumatic event and will envinsion themselves going through the experience over and over again. In essence, people who suffer from PTSD not only experiences the horrible event once but relives it many times. This can be in thoughts, dreams, and in some extreme cases visions.

To describe a stress response to infidelity much like PTSD, Dr. Dennis Ortman came up with a term called Post Infidelity Stress Disorder or PISD. The symptoms are very much like what I am experiencing:

Certainly, discovering a partner’s adultery causes enormous stress for any individual. However, some are traumatized, feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope, often for years. Their reaction is similar to those who have had life-threatening experiences, such as war, natural disasters, violent crimes, physical and sexual abuse, and automobile accidents. These individuals manifest a predictable pattern of symptoms marked by alternating periods of emotional numbing and reliving the horror of the trauma (van der Kolk, McFarlane, & Weisaeth, 1996). Many victims of infidelity experience their psychic life threatened, and become preoccupied with the betrayal and filled with rage. I call their reaction “post-infidelity stress disorder,” with the acronym PISD, which expresses the rage that is a primary symptom of the disorder. Exerpt from: Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services abstract.

There's always something comforting about finding out what is really going on inside of you. It helps you feel less crazy and know that many other people must be feeling the same way if they have a name for what you are experiencing. Is there anyone else out there that fit this description?

By the way, there's a book by Dr. Ortman that further explains his theory for PISD. It's called Transcending Post Infidelity Stress Disorder.


  1. I just discovered your blog and am finding it reinforcing. I, too, am going through the PISD symptoms. Since discovery 12/27/10 I am amazed at the cycles of despair and rage. Though the time between cycles is lengthening, each time it's as if everything if fresh and it's physically and mentally shocking. My husband's slut was 25 (he was 70 at the time) so you can imagine the damage this has caused.

  2. Yes, fresh is definitely the right for it. As if you are going through it all over again. It's so devastating.

    I'm so sorry to hear about this situation for you...I hope that you can find some comfort from my words...

  3. I as a child caught my father cheating multiple times with my own eyes and ears from age 5 to age 21. Even though I'm not a spouse of someone who cheated I am the daughter of the father who cheated her entire life. I am now 22 and seem to cant have a normal relationship and I too experience P.I.S.D


Share your thoughts!