How many times have you been flipping through the channels on your television set when you catch a glimpse of an all too familiar talk show like Maury, Ricki Lake, or Jenny Jones? Of course, curiosity sets in which causes you to stop and watch for a moment. It is then that you realize that today’s topic is “Maury, help me find out if my boyfriend is cheating on me!” Yes, I will admit that I, just like most people, get sucked in and end up watching the rest of the show thinking “Man, I would hate to be in her shoes.” Sadly, we all know of at least one person that has been cheated on, or even worse, we’ve been the one whose been cheated on. We can all agree that cheating is just one more social problem that plagues our society today, but can infidelity be regarded as a medical condition? Can it be diagnosed and cured? It is common belief that at the rate that technology is improving and our vast knowledge through research is growing, science along with psychology may one day be able to cure just about everything… even infidelity in humans.
Before jumping into the case of infidelity, let’s first look at a different type of medical condition found in humans, autism. Autism is a disease that causes mild to strong abnormalities among social interaction in humans. Those suffering from autism, about 0.02% to 0.05% of the population, usually cannot communicate well with others or form normal relationships because they are unaware of the needs and feelings of other people. In short, autistic people cannot achieve normal contact outside of their own being and thus, usually do not make friends. Because of this inability to make friends, autistic children usually partake in repetitious activities (“Autism,” Encyclopedia Encarta). For example, they may be able to entertain themselves for quite some time by turning a light switch on and off over and over again or spinning around in circles.
At one point in time, autism was classified as a psychological disorder caused by a very strong traumatic experience in the early development of the child. Such an experience would cause the child to close himself off to the world and live in some sort of make-believe or fantasy world where he could not be traumatized again. New research disproves this early theory and now indicates that autism is possibly caused by defects in the structure and function of the brain. Usually, those suffering from autism have low blood flow to certain sections of the brain and have reduced numbers of specific brain cells. There also seems to be a link between relatives with or without autism. In other words, a family with one autistic child is likely to have another child with the same disorder (“Autism,” Encyclopedia Encarta). These two ideas suggest that mutations in genes are important in causing autism. Thus, a cure for autism may lye at the hands of finding a way to mutate these genes back into “normal” genes like those found in the brains of those not suffering from autism (Kettlewell, 2004).
So by now you might be asking yourself, “What does all of this talk about autism have to do with cheating boyfriends?” Surprisingly, the two may have more in common than you think. In a very radical view, infidelity can be thought of as a very mild form of autism. Now before you discredit the rest of this article you must realize that a person suffering from autism may not be totally hindered by their disorder. In fact, some of these people can live independently as adults with very mild symptoms of the disease (“Autism,” Encyclopedia Encarta). Obviously, not all adulterous males are autistic, but both autism and infidelity can be thought of as social disorders. How? Well, as you may remember, one of the characteristics of autistic people is that they do not realize that other people have feelings or needs. Similarly, “cheaters” do not take into consideration that their actions may hurt those that they are unfaithful to. Moreover, autistic people usually cannot form normal, long lasting relationships. This often results in isolation and detachment unless something (such as nourishment) is absolutely needed for survival from a second party. Likewise, those who are unfaithful usually do not want mental or emotional relationships from their partners; all they want is to fulfill their physical desires. This comparison leads us to believe that a cure for autism, in its mildest form, may also be a “cure” for infidelity.
Unfortunately, as of now there is no cure for autism, but there are treatments that may reduce its symptoms. One such treatment is the use of such medications like antipsychotic drugs that minimize abusive behavior, drugs that increase chemicals of the brain which cause decreases in compulsive behaviors, or other drugs that lessen the severity of the symptoms of autism altogether (“Autism,” Encyclopedia Encarta). Of more importance,