Objectification and Asperger Syndrome (or not)

Submitted by Whitewave on
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My boyfriend probably has AS (Asperger Syndrome). It's a high-functioning form of autism. We don't have an official diagnosis yet for financial and political reasons. Don't get me started. Regardless, we're acting as if it is real and behaving accordingly. It can't hurt anything to do so, so there's nothing to lose.

People with AS have a particularly hard time with visualization and objectification - specifically, they do it way more than normal. It has to do with which parts of the brain are less functional and which are more than normally functional. They also have issues with "stimming" or stimulating themselves in order to focus and feel okay. Unfortunately for us, his "stim" is grabbing himself. He's subtle about it in public, but when it comes to being with me, he's open. And, of course, in private its a free for all. So, yeah. Do the math.

Porn is beyond an addiction for him. And when no pictures are physically present, there are plenty inside his head to rifle through. And when those are going on, and he's engaged in activity, he's "not with me". He feels guilty for doing this, and therefore has a hard time being present with me when we're having sex. The whole thing snowballs.

Add to that that he's a recovering Meth addict who seems to have finally hit bottom, and so far, doing really well.

I get it. It's a brain thing. But it is wasting our time. I'm 45 years old. Time is precious to me. I have wasted enough time in my life and I am not willing to keep watching my time go down the drain while I'm getting older. I'm not impatient. I've been patient with all the men I've been with. Especially with my husband. That got me exploited and dumped when I was most vulnerable. I've been with this man for almost 4 years. I'm simply not willing to "be okay" while his fear keeps him locked in a downward spiral for so much of our time together. I'm not okay.

Part of it is a brain thing for me too. My body is trying to create something. It doesn't really know what. My higher consciousness is the only one who really knows that. But it knows that it hasn't been accomplished yet. I have two children from my marriage, but that's not it. Reproduction of my species did not turn off the clock. And my clock is ticking.

I want to produce reciprocal transcendent love.

I'm actually very close. This is the closest I've ever been. And when I'm emotionally exhausted, I can't come from that place of pure compassion. I'm overdosing on all my chemicals. I need a break so I can come down. Then I can be there for him in his fear.

We have engaged in orgasmic sex alot, but the more guilt and fear he feels, the less he can achieve an orgasm. This seems to be directly linked for him. I'm thinking its an AS thing. He also has a hard time being honest about it all when he's in active porn addiction. Lately we've had less sex due to time-constraints. I think the lag in vaginal orgasms and sex for him has emphasized the down-regulating of all that juice and it's spiralling pretty badly for him.

My concern is this: We're caught between orgasms being a good sign of Presence for him and their chemical hangover. For him to have an orgasm while having sex, facing me, is a sign of emotional and spiritual health for him. There's no doubt about this. It's the thermometer for his quality of sexual experience with me. His head is clear of fear and guilt and he can actually be Present. It's easy to spiritualize his experience of non-orgasmic sex in light of Marnia's project here, but the truth is that it's not that simple for him and may actually reinforce his dishonesty in these periods of active inner-porn addiction.

I need to tread carefully, for both our sakes. Any help or advice?

[SIDE NOTE]
I have read some of the reports about oxytocin and autism and I'm very aware of how important it is for him to get alot of it in a natural way. There are more ways to get it than sex, and he's engaged in actively caring about others, so right now he's unconsciously becoming addicted to that and avoiding me due to the lack of chemical reinforcements.

It is a tangled web.

Sounds like quite a challenge

I didn't want to answer this right away because I was hoping someone else would have some useful insights I could learn from. Wink However, I don't want you to feel no one cares, so here's my two cents worth (although it could be worth even less in this case!).

I'm going to start by saying that I believe we are becoming far too "medicalized" in this country. Everything gets a label and becomes an illness, and I'm sure you've all seen lists of the absurd things that are now "legitimate diagnoses." This doesn't mean that people aren't really, truly suffering. However, it turns out that a lot of our ailments that the pharmaceutical companies can't wait to sell us pills for, are conditions of our own making. I forget the official word for this type of condition, but basically it means the "ailment" is self-generated and that we, as individuals, are in the best place to heal ourselves *by changing our behavior.*

This includes conditions like obesity, addiction, anxiety, insomnia, and even some real surprises like type 2 diabetes (in many cases) via diet. I suspect that a lot of the symptoms under the ADHD and Asperger's labels are also things we could do a lot to remedy ourselves, if we weren't hypnotized into believing that we have condition-for-which-we-bear-no-responsibility and for which we would be wise to take pills (which seem - quite falsely - to promise an instant cure with no side effects). This view is seductive because we don't *want* to change our behaviors...particularly when they are addictions.

All this is a long way of saying that heavy porn use (and drug use, bless his heart) *can* create a lot of the symptoms you are seeing in your partner. The distraction, the only-feeling-alive-during-orgasm, the objectification, etc. That doesn't mean he wouldn't also be diagnosed with AS. (Yes, the problem could have started in early childhood, too.) My point is that, he can either accept that diagnosis and continue the behavior that may be contributing to the symptoms, or he can experiment with seeking to empower himself by struggling through an uncomfortable period of withdrawal to see if he feels different on the other side of it.

Many spectrum disorders are associated with dopamine disorders. Now maybe they are purely the result of genes or environmental toxins (both explanations have been put forth), but I can't help wondering if intense stimulation isn't also contributing. Porn and masturbation are very widespread just now, and so are these spectrum conditions. Maybe a lot of folks are walking around with their dopamine (and neurochemicals it affects in a chain reaction) out of whack most of the time. My husband's chronic depression mysteriously cleared up *gradually* after he quit masturbating. Hmmmmm..... If you're really patient, and your partner is willing to settle for feeling kind of "gray" for an extended period while relying on you for delicious cuddles as his chief source of wellbeing (along with healthy diet and exercise), what might happen? *shrug*

I'm certainly not saying which option the two of you should choose. I am simply saying that the fact that he feels more alive when going for orgasm doesn't tell you much about how he would feel if he recovered from his addiction. All addicts feel best when engaged in their ritual for addiction. But their idea of "best" is somewhat distorted. Most recovered addicts recognize that feelings of balance and wellbeing and a sense of empowerment feel a LOT better than the racy "highs" of their addictions. But they can't even conceive of those feelings of wellbeing while still in the cycle.

By the way, the most predictable outcome of frequent orgasm is separation. Could this be why he is looking elsewhere for good feelings these days? Just a thought.

What does your partner want to do?

The Light Has Gone Out

LOL I told you not to get me started.

I'm sorry for taking so long to respond, but you said pretty much what I keep hearing from people who don't know much about Asperger's and who have issues with labels. I couldn't contain my irritation 5 months ago, and I can barely do so now, so I suspect it's not gonna get much better if I let more time pass.

I still feel intensely irritated when you say

"However, it turns out that a lot of our ailments that the pharmaceutical companies can't wait to sell us pills for, are conditions of our own making. I forget the official word for this type of condition, but basically it means the "ailment" is self-generated and that we, as individuals, are in the best place to heal ourselves *by changing our behavior.*"

because it doesn't meet my needs for a well-informed response and meeting us where we actually were. And at this point, I am way past the stage of "desperation" when it comes to the intensity of those needs, so combine that with my own case of PTSD around emotional abandonment and I really have a hard time containing my own hormone/neurotransmitter spikes.

---oOo---

One of the main ways I've learned to contain my emotional reactions to certain behaviors is by finding labels for it. I objectify too. There are really only two ways to go with intolerable behavior from caregivers at early developmental stages - act out or split. After concluding that there were more negative consequences when acting out, I learned to split. But at a later stage of development, I gained a more advanced tool: objectification. This made it possible to get the problem out of my body and put it back out where it actually exists: in the other person. My anger followed the problem and I stopped feeling suicidal. My own ailment consisted of internalizing destruction and splitting. The process of healing myself includes objectification and healthy expression of anger.

Ultimately, with more advanced development, the "Other" disappears and there is only "I", but that comes after all the other stages. I have to master duality first. The transition from here to there consists of Shadow work for me: accepting and integrating the Shadowed and opposite "Other".
This leads naturally to mindfulness and higher states of awareness. From there I can change my own behavior because I am no longer a slave to my dualistic and primitive ideas of solution. There are more skillful solutions than the various versions of killing and dying such as bathing someone else in love in order to create a safe container for them to solve their own problems.

I get all that.

But I seem to have found someone who is stuck at the developmental level of an infant and so doesn't progress to solving his own problems. He just takes a bath in my love and proceeds to the next instant gratification. He has no way of connecting the consequences to his own behavior, but believes the world is merely mean and cruel and he is only protecting and comforting himself. He wants to feel better and "solve problems" but he doesn't think he has the problem. He has no "Step One". And he may not ever develop a Step One.

Yes, meth is destroying his ability to heal himself, but it is not the cause. This developmental problem has been with him his whole life - according to his sister and himself. I'm not confused about this. I understand the meth signs. But I've seen all the same signs in someone else I know who has a clear-cut diagnosis of AS but doesn't use meth. All of them. Why is it that people assume it can't be AS but it must be meth issues. Does anyone ever suspect that meth users might have AS? No. Why not? Because addiction is the prevailing trend in labels at the moment. It is used to explain everything. Everything is run through that filter now. I do it too. It's a step up from criminalizing all problem behavior, so I'm not universally against it. But it doesn't explain everything either. When addiction is removed, not everyone levels out to a happy demeanor. Quite often the absence of self-medication exposes the agony of some other, more pervasive problem.

Have you looked at the corelation between self-harm and cortisol levels? Check it out. Especially for people with any of the variations of PTSD. Stopping self-harming behavior such as cutting is not necessarily going to correct neurotransmitter levels.

It could be that he cannot achieve a sensation of attachment with me because he cannot "see" me at all, thus sexual contact with me does not cause the release of oxytocin. In fact, sexual contact with me seems to increase his anxiety and probably his cortisol levels. Abstaining from sex with me also seems to increase the anxiety caused by his "mind-blindness" because of the lack of connection and harmony. He hardly ever has an orgasm with me now. But still he has sex with me less than 2x a month. Instead he has disconnected sex with hundreds of "women" via the internet which is the same as mind-blind sex with me minus the fear of normal consequences of self-centered interaction. I'm sure that's why most men do it, but for him it's worse because he may not be able to feel the necessary connection with me that causes the oxytocin release at all. He may never be able to do it. Not on a consistent basis. It seems to be something that happens accidentally once in a blue moon.

I feel sorry for him. And I love him. But I don't want to live the rest of my life limited by and constantly fighting the lowest common denominator.

~Whitewave

Hip to hip, lip to lip.

Thanks for sharing your experience

I admire all the hard work you've done and the insights you've gained.

I've been reading a book that points out that one can see all of human "civilization" (the last 5,000 years) as a progression toward more mood-altering substances and activities. I can't help noticing that the other trend that has accompanied this one is a move toward disconnecting from close connections with others. First we lost our tribes, then our extended families, and in the last century we've used sex (increasingly) in a way that has eroded the bonds between mates...and now we're not even attaching with our infants very well.

This, it turns out, is very stressful and leaves our brains out of balance. After all, they evolved when close companionship was all around us. The pursuit of drugs is actually a search for the comforts we once found through contact with each other.

So I would say high cortisol, AS (and many other disorders on that spectrum), and drug use are *all* part of a larger problem: we've lost touch (literally) with each other.

Oxytocin, the same neurochemical necessary for social bonds, which is produced with affectionate touch, generosity and trusted companionship, has been shown to reduce the effects of cortisol.

So instead of trying to manipulate ourselves with pharmaceuticals, why not just come up with strategies for increasing the natural production of oxytocin? After all, that's what our brain is *designed* to use to soothe itself. Oxytocin is nature's anti-depressant and anti-anxiety substance.

Bonding-based sex (see this article: http://www.reuniting.info/wisdom/bonding_magic) is one such strategy. It's twice as effective as mere touch, because it also counteracts a big source of friction between mates: those feelings of sexual satiation that lead to low dopamine and a desperate need to raise dopamine by *more* self-stimulation in some form. That is, it helps pry us from the escalating treadmill of self-stimulation.

The reason I believe bonding-based sex can work better than pharmaceuticals with side effects that create new imbalances, is because I have seen it work. My husband was a closet addict and chronically depressed (and on Prozac) when we got together. Bonding-based sex seems to be the factor that turned all that around. Since he teaches human sciences, he began digging up the research that confirmed that this is a reasonable thesis.

Of course, he was willing to make the experiment. I'm very grateful to him for that.

All the best with your challenging situation.

Darkness

Thank you and I'm sorry to dump all this darkness all over your site. You carry a significant source of light. I'm grateful for what you have accomplished and it will forever be an important piece of the puzzle for me.

~Whitewave

Hip to hip, lip to lip.

Don't have much to add re: AS

Other than to say "Good luck.", however the stuff you said about objectification really struck a chord with me.

I objectify massively - as soon as somebody makes me angry, I have a tendency to make them a thing instead of a human being. This has led to me doing some very unpleasant things to other people, both as a child and as a younger adult.

I'm learning a lot more compassion now, thanks to meditation, maturity, and the positive influence of others.

I'm not sure where it came from though - as far as I know, my parents and carers were very loving to me. The earliest traumatic experience I had was at junior school, where I was bullied terribly, until I learned how to manipulate to others to my will ( I was a lot smarter than any of the other children there ). I also had some teachers who were very unpleasant when I was young.

That's one of the questions about myself that I'm still looking for an answer to.
(The other one is - why do I have no sense of guilt, which may be related)

Thanks for showing me I'm not the only one who acts that way!

Present