My boyfriend of over 2 years had a very ,very rough childhood. His mom was abusive and he was malnourished. Him and his brother and sister would get tied down to chairs during the day. Foster care, an addicted parent, etc, were all in the picture.
When I met him, my boyfriend was an alcoholic. Since then he has quit alcohol due to how aggressive he would get toward me when he would drink. He would not remember anything, and that lead black outs. So, he quit drinking entirely even though it still is hard.
We have shown extreme involvement in helping each other out because we were both pretty broken when we met. I have a personality disorder myself, BPD. So, I have a codependence problem and an excessive need for him to show me affection. Not until this past month did I actually discover he wasn’t giving me this affection but not because of anything that had to do with me. He literally has a disconnection in his brain and doesn’t find pleasure in affection. I asked him today as I held him as we watched TV, if it felt good, and he basically told me it didn’t really feel like anything.
He also has a very violent history but hasn’t shown me anything of the scary sort since he quit drinking. I’ve always told him he has a big heart and I have no idea how he came out so good when his past was so bad. However, as I said, I am starting to notice personality traits that make me think there may be something wrong.
Can you tell me your opinion doc? Second, can he just have a slip in his personality but that it’s no underlying disease?
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Based on what you describe of your boyfriend and his history it is a safe bet to assume that he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is possible that he also experiences depression, anxiety and lots of anger. I’m assuming that his inability to find comfort and pleasure is a protection against any emotions that might stir up the past. His childhood was very traumatic and, I agree with you that it’s a wonder he is able to function with you as well as he does. Many people with his type of background would find it difficult or impossible to trust others enough to remain in a relationship. It says a lot about your strength and committment that he has a strong bond with you.
Based on this, going for therapy for PTSD would be a good idea so that he can reduce his symptoms of depression and anxiety. Cognitive Behavior Therapy with meditation, also know as Dialectical Behavior Therapfy, would help him learn how to reduce his feelings of stress and fear. That is being used with some of the Afhani and Iraqi soldiers returning home with PTSD. Sometimes medication is used temporarily to help reduce symptoms while therapy takes hold. I want to add that psychotherapy is a good idea for you, too, because of the levels of stress you experience as a result of this.
By the way, it is a great thing that he has stopped drinking. Alcoholism is a common problem for those with PTSD.
Best of Luck to both of you.