Emotional Starvation

“Do not shop for food when you’re hungry.”

A young couple came for therapy. Their story was a soap opera. Abused and abandoned by her father, she developed low self-esteem, believing no one cared about her or loved her. Her husband was addicted to hard drugs, and suffered from Bipolar Disorder. which he never managed properly. He preferred street drugs to prescribed medications or therapy. In the past he had attempted suicide in front of her by slashing his wrists; he also had tried to kill her by strangling her. When she was about to deliver their first child, he was lost in a drug-induced stupor. 

They now have two children together. At the time of their visit with me, he was required to live in a halfway house for six months following a prison term. Her reason for wanting counseling was to help her determine if she should have him return home after his stay in the halfway house.

His demeanor and his speech convinced me that he was not sincere, and that he remained a danger. I was not convinced he had been rehabilitated at all. It was clear he knew how to use therapy lingo to fool authorities and counselors.  Since I do not do addictions therapy, and having concluded that she was in no position to make a rational decision, I suggested that she consider receiving trauma therapy to address her own issues. She agreed. During one session, she said that she stayed with him despite his numerous episodes of violence, because “he’s the only person who ever wanted me.” During the next session, she said she had decided to let him come back home. I urged her to reconsider, in light of his history of violence and mental illness. Her response? “He’s a good dad.” She never returned.

It’s not easy to enter into the mind of a person who is willing to put herself and her children at risk in this way. However, we know that starvation can compel anyone to make self-defeating choices. Here is one vivid example. A survivor of a Nazi concentration camp told me that he and his fellow prisoners went slightly mad after the Allied army liberated them. The German guards had escaped and in an instant the prisoners knew they were free. Their first thought: get something to eat! In the kitchen they found bags full of raw potatoes, and began to devour them. Raw potatoes are not good for anyone to eat, much less for a person suffering from starvation. Needless to say, they became very ill. 

in both of these examples we see a person who is unable to sense danger, due to the desperation that results from starvation.

In the area of relationships making bad decisions can bring lasting unhappiness. This can then lead to guilt, self-hatred and a number of other emotional problems. 

Thankfully, help is available. For the past couple of decades, effective techniques have been developed to help people with this problem. If your decision-making has been clouded by feeling overly needy or emotionally starved, you might consider getting professional help. While some problems might be resolved on your own, in many such instances, outside intervention is indicated. If you are ready to get started, please feel free to call 219-309-3928 for a free consultation. I would be honored to be of help.

For more thoughts click Loving the Bad Boy

Thanks for reading!