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Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD)


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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1

Part One. Infidelity as Trauma 11

1. Symptoms of Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD) 12
Imprisoned in Hurt and Rage

2. Differing Responses of Men and Women to Infidelity 30
The Many Faces of PISD

3. Those Most Vulnerable to Trauma 40
A Heart Close to Breaking

4. Adult Children of Unfaithful Parents 55
The Pain Goes On

Part Two. Steps to Recovery from the Trauma 67

5. Stage 1: Calming the Emotional Storm
Finding a Safe Haven within Yourself 68

6. Stage 2: Understanding Your Unfaithful Partner
Why? . . . Why Me? 90

7. Stage 3: Seeking Self-Understanding
The Truth Will Set You Free 113

8. Stage 4: Making a Wise Decision
To Be or Not to Be . . . with Your Partner 138

9. Stage 5: Embracing Self-Forgiveness
Freeing Yourself to Love Again 163

10. Stage 6: Forgiving Your Unfaithful Partner
A Healing Journey 183

Epilogue. A Broken Heart Becomes an Open Heart 209

Appendix. Eight Exercises to Deepen Recovery 219

Notes 229
Suggested Reading 233
Index 236

About the Author

DENNIS ORTMAN is a psychologist in private practice in Detroit, Michigan. A Catholic priest for fourteen years, Dr. Ortman has been married for nineteen years. He is the author of The Dually Diagnosed and The Dual Diagnosis Recovery Sourcebook.

If you had to boil the message of Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder down to one sentence, what would it be?
If you have suffered from an infidelity and are consumed by rage, read this book to find relief, forgiveness, and new life.

Who is your hero?
If I could spend a day talking with anyone, living or dead, it would be Abraham Lincoln. I admire him as a man who displayed steadfastness and wisdom guiding our country in its most trying time.

Have you ever met a famous person?
I spent five years studying in Rome and met many Church dignitaries, bishops, cardinals, and even the Pope. But none impressed me more than Mother Teresa. Her love, gentleness, and determination radiated from her tiny sub-five foot frame.

What's the farthest you've ever traveled?
I spent a summer in India working in the slums of Calcutta. That was my longest journey geographically, emotionally, and spiritually. Surprisingly, what impressed me most was not the desperate poverty, but the deep contentment and spirituality of many of the people I met.

Where were you when you found out that Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder would be published?
I was on a golf course in Florida when I received the call that my manuscript was accepted. After that, my golf game went south, and my buddies won some money.

If you were alone on a desert island, what book would you take?
If I were alone on a desert island, I would choose the Bible as my constant companion because of the inexhaustible wisdom it contains. A second book would be The Complete Works of William Shakespeare because of their poetic elegance and astute psychological perceptiveness.


Of all the books on infidelity, this is the first that pegs the aftermath, accurately in my view, as a trauma that results in a "stress disorder" with a clear plan for healing. Insightful and helpful. --Harville Hendrix, PhD, author of Getting the Love You Want

Dennis Ortman writes with generosity and grace about a very difficult topic. This book is honest, compassionate, and clinically smart; his strong spiritual message makes the subject of infidelity far more hopeful and humane. --Pat Love, EdD, author of The Truth About Love

Dr. Ortman is right on in calling an infidelity a trauma. By uniting the wisdom of Western psychology with East-West spiritual traditions, he offers rich, practical guidance and hope. --Janis Abrahms Spring, PhD, author of After the Affair and How Can I Forgive You?

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