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On The Edge Of The Cliff

Pete was a wreck. A happily married fellow with three young children, he would traditionally came to my office every six months to get his Zoloft for his severe OCD. He enjoyed telling me about his family, his work, his love of sports. Things were all pretty routine - until they weren’t. Pete shared that he had met a woman at the gym. At first they would joke around, but soon the flirting started and in short order, Pete was infatuated. It got to the point where the two of them would text each other so they could rendezvous at the gym at the same time. Pete was feeling increasingly weird and anxious about all this, keeping a secret from his wife, but he couldn’t help himself, couldn’t stop himself. Seduction had taken over. And then, the woman invited him to her place. Pete asked me what he should do. "I’m a married man, Dr. Guterson, and I want to stay married, and I’ve got three children. But I can’t get this other woman out of my mind.” Pete was shaking now. He clearly wasn’t himself. He was lost. His mind had been taken over. In the world of spiritual mental health, Pete had entered the realm of what the sages call ‘temporary insanity’. No, he wasn’t psychotic; he wasn’t schizophrenic or manic. But his passions were so intense that he had lost his way. I turned close to Pete and said, in no uncertain terms, “You have to end this, completely and totally. You cannot even be friends with her because your infatuation won’t let you. Text her that the relationship is over, that you are devoted to your wife. And then block all her numbers and emails. Erase all texts. Destroy any gifts. And never return to that gym again.” I added, “If this relationship with her goes on, it will ruin your marriage, your family, yourself.” I imagine there are those in the mental health profession who would disagree with this directive approach.

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