Cassandra Syndrome. Also referred to as Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD. What is it? In Greek mythology, Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy; the ability to foresee the future. He did so out of an act to seduce her but when she ultimately rejected him, he hexed her with a curse of never being believed. Even though Cassandra had the power to predict the future and could warn people when something bad was about to happen, no one believed her. She was dismissed and rejected, regarded by the townspeople as an insane liar. The curse of never being believed became a source of pain and frustration throughout Cassandra’s life. Despite her powers as a clairvoyant, she was all but invisible. Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman married to an Asperger (AS) man experiences through psychological and emotional distress.
My husband has Asperger Syndrome (AS), making us a Neurodiverse Couple. During the years before we obtained an unofficial diagnosis, I was quite troubled and experienced a great deal of psychological and emotional distress. I was an emotional hostage, suffering through daily trauma of feeling invisible to my AS partner. My husband could not express empathy, was awkward socially and had a limited ability to express himself non-verbally. My response was to act out. I was angry, unreasonable, hurtful and verbally abusive. My self-esteem was being demolished by a partner who could not provide the connection I longed for. There was either something terribly wrong with me or my husband had some sort of undiagnosed psychological challenge. As a result, I was losing my sense of self.
I was experiencing an ongoing traumatic relationship syndrome (OTRS), known in this case as Cassandra Syndrome, a term coined by the families of adults affected by AS. Like Cassandra in the myth, I had become invisible, disregarded, and ignored.
There was never any doubt I loved my husband but the Asperger’s was creating many challenges. I didn’t want a divorce so I educated myself on AS, and Cassandra Syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately. We also found the tools my husband needed to be more relational and put systems in place for better communication. This had made me so much happier. Today, our Neurodiverse challenges are much more manageable and our mutual commitment to stay together and keep moving forward is truly one of the great achievements of our unique love story. As a result, I became Certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor to help couples do the same thing.
For more information on coping with Cassandra Syndrome and moving forward with your Asperger husband (or wife/partner), please contact me at (858) 735-1139. I know I can help.