Along with changes in the workplace and the explosive growth of electronic communications, there has been a skyrocketing rate of infidelity. Today, up to forty percent of American marriages endure the pain of a cheating partner. The media is filled with stories of married politicians finding their "soul mates" and titillating instances of unfaithful celebrities. But in the homes of ordinary people everywhere, infidelity triggers complex emotions and events that affect everyone involved. Many marriage and personal therapists have adopted a "me first" mentality, prompting hurt spouses to end their relationships. Psychiatrist Scott Haltzman, retired Brown University professor, recommends exactly the opposite. The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity teaches both the victim and the perpetrator of infidelity how to acknowledge their feelings, reduce their sense of despair, and begin the difficult task of rebuilding a strong relationship. People who cheat act much like those who have other addictions, and brain scans of love-struck individuals show a dramatic increase in the release of dopamine, the same brain neurochemical associated with cocaine abuse.
Haltzman does not excuse infidelity by labeling it a sex addiction; it's not orgasm that drives a partner to cheat. Instead, Haltzman coins the term "flame addiction" to describe how, like a moth drawn to the light, people feel compelled to have extramarital intimacy despite all the negative consequences. People who have been cheated on feel shame, rage, and injured self-esteem. Many of them fear abandonment and find it hard to cope. When both partners have made a commitment to move forward together, however, Dr. Haltzman validates each person's feelings and puts them into perspective, offering sound advice on how to recover their equilibrium and reestablish a committed, trust-filled relationship.
Scott Haltzman, M.D., is a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and former clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University. He is author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men, The Secrets of Happily Married Women, and The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity.
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