[Two Pronged] Voyeurism and more
Rappler's Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master's degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in 3 continents, he has been training with Dr Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives.
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:
There is something I hope you will clarify for me: Is there a connection between psychosexual disorder and depression and anxiety? Is voyeurism considered a psychosexual disorder?
Now my husband is claiming that he has severe anxiety and depression. But he only opened up to me about this because I saw many pictures of my sister on his cell phone. He put a camera in our CR while my sister was taking a bath. I also found out that this is not the first time he’s done it.
But he has admitted it only now because I caught him, with these pictures on his cell phone. My feeling is the anxiety and depression he says he feels is merely an excuse so that I start to pity him.
I already had a feeling that he liked my sister a long time ago. I am so confused. We were married in church. I know I should try to make the marriage work. We also have one child, a daughter. But my heart and mind keep on fighting each other. He is a good father. But I am afraid he will do this to our daughter when she is older.
I never felt that he may have mental problems. All I know now is that he is a sex maniac. But his childhood was such a sad one. He had no good image or role model to learn from. Even his mother told me that my husband’s father also did this to my husband’s mother and her sister. In other words, no good values learned from the parents.
I also know that he was physically abused when he was growing up. Also, he tried to commit suicide twice.
The first time was via overdose. But I felt that was because we were about to separate. His mother told me so I wouldn’t leave her son. When I discovered that this was a story they invented, I told him: “Why didn’t you do it? I wish you really had killed yourself.” It was only then that he “overdosed”. After 30 minutes of his supposed “overdose,” he was rushed to the hospital and told them he had overdosed.
The second time was when he slashed his wrist. They went to a hospital and saw a psychiatrist. They said that I was the triggering factor for whatever mental disorder he had. Because they all observed that he loves me so much. That is why he cannot bear that I leave him. I can feel his love, but I don’t know if this has any connection to his voyeurism.
I feel he is merely inventing his feelings of anxiety. Is there truly a connection between psychosexual disorders and mental disorders? According to him, he also hears inner voices.
He says they are angry voices who tell him: “Since no one loves you, why don’t you just jump from a building and fly away?” According to him, these voices tell him to jump and just kill himself. He accuses me of depriving him of sex.
If he is really mentally ill, he might do something bad to our daughter. Please help me. Is there truly a connection between depression and psychosexual development or is his voyeurism a matter of choice?
Thank you very much,
WOMAN in Despair
Dear Woman in Despair (WID),
Thank you for your email.
You have raised a significant number of issues in your account of your situation, including voyeurism, sex mania, child abuse, depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, hallucination and/or schizophrenia, the accuracy of psychiatric diagnoses, alternative diagnoses, comorbidity, even religion.
You say that your husband (let’s call him Fritz) was abused as a child, learned no ‘good’ values from his parents and seems to be behaving much as his father did before, at least according to his own mother.
Having been caught with inappropriate pictures of your sister, he is now pleading that he is suffering from anxiety, depression and hallucinatory voices though you suspect that this is merely a ruse to garner sympathy.
Then there are his suicide attempts, motivated in your view by your intention to separate. And, lo and behold, the psychiatrist announces that his love for you is so great that you are the triggering factor for all his mental problems.
This diagnosis beggars belief. This is equivalent to blaming silk for someone’s fetish for silk stockings. It ignores Fritz’s history, fails to explain how his great love for you includes filming his sister in law surreptitiously and rather conveniently lays the blame at your feet. Of course it could provide you with an excellent exit strategy, since presumably removing the trigger (you) would resolve his mental issues!
Whatever the diagnosis and prognosis, there can be little doubt the current situation is unhealthy for both you and your daughter, not to mention your sister, so separation seems the obvious solution. You raise the matter of your church wedding and the resultant desire to make your marriage work. I think that Fritz’s behavior and mental state rather negate any chance of that and the safety of your daughter should be your first consideration but of course as we are dealing with supernatural beliefs perhaps your spiritual adviser is better placed to guide you, rather than an atheist. Suffice it to say that if the god you believe in is truly benevolent, removing your daughter from harm’s way should be an acceptable option.
I shall leave any discussion of Fritz’s mental state to Dr Holmes and simply close by suggesting that you distance yourself and your daughter from Fritz as soon as possible.
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter and for sharing all your concerns regarding your husband in a concise and easily understandable way. It shows you possess the ability to think and express yourself clearly, without digressing into incidentals. Thus I have no hesitation sharing information based on methodologically sound research and on my clinical experience.
Yes, voyeurism is considered a psychosexual disorder and yes, it is very possible (though not guaranteed), that there is a connection between anxiety and/or depression.
But many other people suffer from as much, or even more, anxiety and/or depression and yet do not turn out to be voyeurs.
True, Fritz attempted suicide twice, misrepresenting his psychiatrist (either that or said psychiatrist needs to be banned from his profession) as saying it is, in effect, your fault, because, were he not so in love with you, he would want to live even if you left him. Once more, he has not taken responsibility for his actions. Instead, he conveniently comes up with reasons that show him as the victim, rather than the perpetrator.
True, he had a terrible childhood; but again, not everyone who has a childhood as terrible – or even worse – than he has had, behaves as irresponsibly and callously as he does.
And it is unlikely that he will change, especially with a mother that supports his victim stance and intercedes on his behalf: expecting you to excuse her son because his father also engaged in voyeurism, and trying to emotionally blackmail you to stay to prevent further suicide attempts.
Fritz also mentions hearing angry voices telling him to kill himself. I cannot help feeling this is part of his paawa plan. (Pity me naman. I am anxious, depressed, had a terrible childhood and now even hear voices. How can you bear to leave me?!!? ) In fact, his explanation makes it pretty clear that he is not suffering from psychosis since he realizes that these voices are not actual voices.
According to Ben Alderson-Day, a psychological researcher at Durham University and lead author on several studies on hearing voices “It's true that lots of people who hear voices have serious mental health issues,…but roughly 5 to 15 % of the general population will have some experience of hearing unusual voices at some point in their lives.”
And these people are not crazy.
Finally, I feel Mr Baer is unnecessarily alarmist in suggesting Fritz’s behavior means your daughter needs protection from him. There is no doubt in my mind that, should he be her only parent, she would need much more support and guidance than he could ever provide. However you are there, and will be available for any questions, issues and concerns that may arise. Thus, his continuing to be a part of her life may be a very good thing indeed, for him and her. This does not mean, however, that you cannot choose to leave him. You can and, perhaps, you should.
Being a horrible husband to you does not necessarily make Fritz a terrible father. In fact, you yourself have said he is a good father. I agree that it is far better to err in the side of caution than in the side of hoping for the best. Thus, if you see reason for your fears – as opposed to merely being told you HAVE to be careful of someone mentally unstable – then by all means, take steps to ensure he will not have much say in her upbringing.
However, my reading is that Fritz is not mentally unstable in the sense that you must excuse his behavior because he has no control over them. He does have control, however he has gotten away with not having to suffer the consequences of his behavior, so keeps on making excuses for his actions. The problem however is that, if he refuses to see his role in all this, it will be unlikely that he will change, Why should he? His problem is everyone else’s fault, just like his mother’s.
You have so much on your plate at the moment, WID. Please write to us again if there is anything else we can do to help.
All the best,
Need advice from our Two Pronged duo? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject heading TWO PRONGED. Unfortunately the volume of correspondence precludes a personal response.