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August 9, 2021 9:35 am  #1


Cassandra Syndrome and AfDD in straight spouses

This psychological condition frequently develops in what are termed neuro-diverse relationships with a neuro-typical spouse who is in a relationship with someone who is on the autism spectrum. After spending time reading the various posts on this site, I can conclude that there is a direct correlation between the suffering of straight spouses and the suffering of neuro-typical spouses. The term “Cassandra Syndrome” is not popular, due to the fact that there are far too many syndromes banded about these days. The more acceptable term now used is Affective Deprivation Disorder, or AfDD for short.
 Neuro-typical spouses frequently find that sometime after a relationship begins, the intimacy and physical closeness between the partners dies off, oftentimes completely. The theory behind this rests on the inability of the autistic partner to maintain the “mask” of normalcy required for navigating the neuro-typical world. The “mask” will slip when in the comfort of the home as this is a safe and familiar place. The effort required to “mask” behaviour outside of this environment can still be mentally exhausting and can overwhelm the autistic individual into meltdowns when in the home.
The sudden lack of affection is also sometimes served with a dose of negative and hostile behaviours towards the neuro-typical spouse who then finds themselves shunned by the person they love. To the outside world, the relationship can seem to be totally normal due to the fact that the autistic partner can still “mask” their behaviours when out in public. The autistic partner then uses the neuro-typical partner to help them navigate the social intricacies of the world and thus allows them to be accepted in it. In the long term, this AfDD has profound psychological and physical effects on the neuro-typical spouse manifesting frequently as:

Emotional health

Feeling extremely disappointed with the relationship
Feeling confused
Feeling angry
Feeling guilty
Low self-esteem
Loss of self-identity
Loss of faith in yourself

Mental health

Anger and frustration
Listlessness and depression
Anxiety
Phobias or social phobias
Developing Asperger’s ways

Physical Health

Migraines
Loss or gain in weight
Premenstrual tension
Low immune system​

Although AfDD does not appear as a separate diagnosis in the current DSM, the collection of symptoms frequently lead to a diagnosis of PTSD, or CPTSD to be precise. The loss of intimacy and closeness in any relationship can have devastating effects on the mental health of the partner who is still emotionally invested in the partnership. If you simply replace “Neuro-typical spouse” with “Straight Spouse”, and “Autistic Spouse” with “LGBTQA+ Spouse” the correlation is obvious. Another direct correlation exists in the use of “masks” and “beards” to maintain social acceptance on behalf of the autistic/LGBTQA+ spouse. This leads to the Cassandra effect of creating a false self and life that a neuro-typical/Straight spouse has to endure in an effort to maintain the relationship. The neuro-typical spouse is forced to live in a neuro-diverse private world behind closed doors, the straight spouse likewise behind the closed closet doors.
 It could be that in the future AfDD is accepted into the DSM. If this is the case then training in the specific treatment of the condition could be available to mental health professionals who can then use this diagnosis to better treat those who are suffering. The need for emotional and physical closeness is a basic normal human need. It is not on a list of “nice to haves” for any neuro-typical human being. Unfortunately for some of us, this cannot be found in diverse relationships whether the disparity is in neurology or orientation. 
 You can never excuse the behaviour of some of the LGBTQA+ spouses on this forum (which has often been simply deplorable towards individuals who loved them), but they are in many ways similar to neuro-diverse autistic partners who are in relationships with neuro-typical or straight spouses. They are frequently unaware, or indifferent to the damage that is being done to the neuro-typical or straight spouse. So we can use the experiences of neuro-diverse relationships to further the understanding of the damage done to straight partners in orientation-diverse relationships by giving it a name, Affective Deprivation Disorder.

Ordinary guy

4913 days…


And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see clearly that which is essential is invisible to the eye.
 

August 9, 2021 9:47 am  #2


Re: Cassandra Syndrome and AfDD in straight spouses

Ordinary guy: The effort required to “mask” behaviour outside of this environment can still be mentally exhausting and can overwhelm the autistic individual into meltdowns when in the home.

^This is exactly it, just change autistic for gay in denial. At least in my situation.

Thank you for this.

Edited to add:  I understand these meltdowns much better now that I know about TGT. It never had anything to do with him being legitimately depressed. Deceit is what drives this behaviour, in my opinion.

Last edited by longwayhome (August 9, 2021 10:29 am)


I never cease to wonder at the cruelty of this land, but it seems a time of sadness is a time to understand, is it mine, oh lord is it mine, when everything is dark ….. Roger Hodgson. 
 

August 9, 2021 11:45 am  #3


Re: Cassandra Syndrome and AfDD in straight spouses

The meltdown is a result of the overwhelming effort required to manage their behaviours in certain scenarios. When the safe place is reached and they relax, the outpouring of built-up tension can be spectacular and is often directed at something the neuro-typical or straight spouse feels is absolutely inconsequential. The burden of carrying the “deceit” builds as emotional pressure, and must be vented over and over again as it builds. Without the ability to vent, you may well have to endure complete meltdowns. Sometimes after a meltdown a sense of calm comes over the neuro-diverse/LGBTQA+ spouse to the point where they don’t seem to have a conscience over what was said or done. Almost as if it didn’t happen at all. The issue is then with the neuro-typical/straight spouse, who remembers what was said and how it was said. Over time, this is damaging to point where it is effectively abusive in its actual end result. The straight/neuro-typical spouse is then left holding all of the emotional angst with nowhere for it to go other than for it to be internalised. Ultimately very unhealthy for the innocent and bewildered spouse. Repeated episodes lead to the AfDD response and symptoms above.


And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see clearly that which is essential is invisible to the eye.
     Thread Starter
 

August 9, 2021 12:01 pm  #4


Re: Cassandra Syndrome and AfDD in straight spouses

Yes, Thank you again, very much.


I never cease to wonder at the cruelty of this land, but it seems a time of sadness is a time to understand, is it mine, oh lord is it mine, when everything is dark ….. Roger Hodgson. 
 

August 9, 2021 12:12 pm  #5


Re: Cassandra Syndrome and AfDD in straight spouses

A quick point I missed on the role of Cassandra syndrome in straight spouses following disclosure by the LGBTQA+ spouse. When the closet doors are flung open and the LGBTQA+ spouse is open about themselves to others, the straight spouse is largely ignored or discounted in the melee of well wishers and supporters. This leads to Cassandra syndrome in the straight spouse, who feels they have been denied the opportunity to have their truth acknowledged. Sadly, they can feel cast aside and alone at the very time when their pain and suffering is at its height. Mental health professionals and counsellors should direct all of their efforts in healing and understanding the straight spouse with Cassandra syndrome. The only cure for which is to be listened to, heard and acknowledged. Only after this can the rebuilding process begin.

Last edited by Ordinary guy (August 9, 2021 12:15 pm)


And now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see clearly that which is essential is invisible to the eye.
     Thread Starter
 

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