By Eddie Capparucci, PhD, LPC, C-CSAS
When Chad was in third grade, he drew a picture of breasts on a schoolbook cover. He thought it was humorous, and people would find it funny. He soon found out that was not the case after proudly showing it to his father. When his dad saw his son’s early attempt at classical artwork, he immediately addressed Chad.
“What in the world are you thinking,” he shouted at the shocked child, wagging his finger for added emphasis. “What would make you draw something like this for everyone to see?”
Chad was taken back and embarrassed by his father‘s hostile reaction and words. He was confused as to why he was being reprimanded. But his father’s disappointment did not end there.
“What if I were to show this drawing to your grandmother,” he threatened. “Could you imagine her reaction and what she would think of you?”
Chad was terrified. He had a close relationship with his grandmother and loved her very much. Some of his most memorable times came when spending time with granny. Now, in Chad’s mind, his dad was threatening to destroy that relationship by exposing Chad’s artwork. He thought his grandmother would never look at him the same way again.
What Chad Heard
Chad’s father did not know at the time that his shaming would lead to destructive consequences for Chad as he matured and developed intimate relationships, especially with his wife. The message Chad’s father indirectly delivered to him that day was that it is better to hide and lie about any actions you take that you believe may disappoint others.
And that is exactly what Chad did with a pornography addiction he kept hidden from his wife for 20 years.
Had Chad’s father approached his son with curiosity wondering why he had drawn such a picture and explained it was inappropriate, the young boy may never have associated his actions with shame-filled thoughts he would need to escape for the rest of this life.
The Hide and Lie Syndrome
The Hide and Lie Syndrome is one of 14 Blind Spots that negatively impact an individual’s ability to cultivate and nurture healthy relationships. Individuals learn at an early age that there is no benefit in being truthful, so they learn to lie and omit facts. They were often punished even after being truthful. And in some cases, they discovered this practice by watching their parents perform it.
These individuals become so proficient at being deceitful that lying becomes an automatic impulse, and they often find themselves lying about petty things.
Others come to understand that flying under the radar is an effective strategy to avoid being targeted for unwanted attacks and criticism. They maintain a low profile even in the company of others by limiting their interaction and dialogue. Their fear of saying something wrong is so intense that they shut down, even amid family or peers.
It is not uncommon to see this syndrome in men who struggle with problematic sexual behaviors. As it applies to these circumstances, however, a betrayer’s deceitfulness and lying are deemed to be more troubling to the individual who has been betrayed than any sexual infidelity. Those betrayed cannot understand how someone who professed to love them could be so dishonest.
Breaking the Impulse
Those suffering from the Hide and Lie Syndrome can break this harmful habit by gaining insight and education regarding their actions.
- They need to understand they are no longer living in the past; therefore, they do not need to continue to resort to hurtful behaviors such as hiding and lying. Instead, they must learn to take small steps to begin to trust those who love them.
- It is essential to realize the depth of the painful consequences resulting from their deceitfulness. It is usually others who paid the price for their inability to be truthful. This insight starts by understanding their deception takes an enormous emotional toll on their partners in that their partner’s sense of safety has been stripped away.
- Focus on comprehending the importance of being honest and having integrity and realize these are cornerstones of successful relationships. Without them, there is no relationship.
- Finally, they must realize continuing to lie will keep them stuck in their emotional immaturity. Instead, it is time to grow up and finish strong.
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Eddie Capparucci is a Christian therapist and licensed by the State of Georgia. Certified in the treatment of sexual and pornography addiction, and he and his wife, Teri, have a private practice working with men struggling with sexual and pornography addictions, as well as their wives who are dealing with betrayal. Among his many clients, Eddie has worked with professional athletes, including NFL and MLB players and television personalities.
He is the creator of the Inner Child Recovery Process for the treatment of Sexual and Pornography addiction. This unique treatment method helps individuals get to the root issues of their addiction and provides them with the tools and insight to manage the disorder. It has been endorsed by many leaders in the sex addiction field. You can find out more about it at www.innerchild-sexaddiction.com. The Inner Child Recovery Process is the subject of his new book, Going Deeper: How the Inner Child Impacts Your Sexual Addiction. He also is the host of the webcast entitled Getting to the Other Side: Helping Couples Navigate the Road to Recovery.