Yesterday, I pondered the question of what is the connection between mental illness and cheating. Although these two are not often talked about in connection with each other, there are some connections between them. Let me clarify a few items before exploring this issue deeper.
1. Cheating does not cause mental illness.
2. Some mentally ill people cheat as a way of self-medicating their problems. By putting their focus on sexual release, they are looking for some reduction in their pain or problems. There are some who claim that cheating was a way of medicating their depression. Some counselors have gone so far as to view self-medicating as a primary driver behind many affairs.
3. Cheating often occurs within a combination of unhealthy and dysfunctional behaviors (lying, delusions, addictive behaviors, mania, intoxication, marital dysfunction). More times than not, those who are cheating are not the most functional or have the healthiest relationships. Let me put it this way, it is usually those with unhealthy relationships or unhealthy make-up who are more prone to cheat. Cheating is seldom a stand alone behavior.
4. The basic dynamic of cheating (gratification of sexual desires without accountability) is an unhealthy premise for any relationship. The whole idea of gratification without accountability is a recipe for instability. Think about how many times cheating has lying, deception, and misdirection are associated with affairs.
Now that I have these four premises out of the way let us explore this issue further. One issue that is often misunderstood is how some mentally ill people use cheating as a way of self-medicating. In these cases, the cheating is not about enjoying themselves, it is more about coping.
For whatever reason, they have resorted to sexual liaisons as a way of dealing with stress and the problems in their life. When people resort to sexual acts, such as cheating as a way of coping, it is unhealthy. They are choosing a potentially life-threatening way of dealing with their stress.
The exposure to communicable diseases is only the tip of the iceberg. Cheating arouses the passions of irate husbands and wives, which can lead to fatal retribution.
When cheaters have mental illness, they often do not consider the consequences of their actions, or the potential consequences. Consider for a moment that nearly one third of the women murdered in the US are at the hands of their own spouse, with cheating being one of the reasons cited. (yes, wives kill husbands as well-consider that 41% of domestic homicides are done by wives toward their husbands).
Cheating is a risky behavior. The link between risky behavior and cheating is clear. Cheating exposes cheaters to STD’s. Given that over 50% of the people in the US have had at least one STD, the odds are not in your favor of cheating without consequences. Cheating is also a potentially life threatening behavior. Some of the STD’s are life threatening. When people engage in cheating, even to cope with their illnesses, they are putting their life at risk.
If cars were as potentially life threatening as affairs, they would likely be outlawed. Engaging repeatedly in such dangerous behavior is not healthy by any means.
More research is needed in understanding the connection of cheating and mental illness. Although the research is needed, the hedonistic elements in society are unlikely to allow such research to occur since it would put cheating in a bad light, and may encourage people to abide by a set of morals.
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Nothing in this Work is intended to replace common sense, legal, medical or other professional advice. If your situation warrants it, please seek competent professional counsel.