Latest update: April 1st, 2012
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As a long-time avid reader of your column, I have been particularly intrigued by the many who had written of their conviction that SSA cannot be changed.
Years ago, I too suffered from this illness, struggling for a long time to understand its cause. I tried a number of therapists to no avail, and my cure finally came from years of self-searching. However, in addition to SSA, I also suffered with Pedophilia. I have discovered that its root is essentially the same as that of SSA. Whereas in SSA one feels less of a man than his peers, with Pedophilia an adult man feels himself to be less of a male than a 10-year old boy. The proof of the validity of this concept: Once I figured it out and worked on the underlying issues, the problem entirely disappeared.
A number of years ago, I read an article written by a well-known frum professional who claimed that there is no cure for this illness and the best we can hope for is to teach these people how to control their impulses. With all due respect to a professional of his caliber, this is completely untrue. How sad for those suffering with this problem to hear this! Such an attitude comes from the secular society and is totally not in line with Torah hashkofas – and by writing and telling people that there is no cure for this illness we exacerbate their problem? How fortunate for me that when I suffered from this malady years ago, I did not read or hear that it was considered incurable. I shudder to think what I would have done at the time had I come across such an article.
Unfortunately, the more repulsive a particular illness is to society, the more likely it is to be considered “incurable.” It is so much easier to tolerate the afflicted individuals this way. Consider this: If a pedophile would be deemed curable and would seek the appropriate treatment and be cured, we would have to accept him as part of society. We are, however, so disgusted with what he has done to our children, so horrified and so utterly enraged, that we cannot tolerate the thought of ever having this person be a part of our community. While it is certainly appropriate to be angry and repulsed by this individual – very much so – don’t we, as frum Jews, believe in teshuva, in change?
Yet certain problems are so repulsive that it is extremely difficult for us to consider the likelihood of change. We rather want nothing to do with the person and, therefore, label his problem as ‘incurable’ – thus sparing ourselves from ever having to associate with him. This attitude is unfair to the suffering individual. How many less pedophiles we would have if only their illness would be perceived as being curable!
I offer two proofs that this illness is indeed very much curable.
A) Scenario: An individual suffers with this illness and is told that it is incurable. He attends a program to learn how to control his impulses, and despite the fact that this person never again acts upon his impulses, the mere fact that he has them makes it impossible for him to feel that he is a normal part of society – let alone frum society. Now, when a person walks around feeling abnormal and different, how can he possibly succeed in life? Well, we all know that Hashem does not present a person with a nisayon that s/he cannot overcome. If this illness is incurable, how can Hashem expect this individual to achieve success? Hence, we are forced to conclude that this problem can be cured.
How so? With three steps:
1) Completely accept the fact that, if you work hard enough, you have the ability to entirely overcome this illness and be fully cured.
2) Understand the root cause of this illness, as described above.
3) Work with a skilled technician to overcome the root problem.
By sincerely following these steps, one can most definitely look forward to getting to the point of no longer feeling these impulses and being completely cured. He can even look forward to a time when he will fail to fathom how it was that he could ever have felt such impulses.
B) The author of this presentation is a frum 45 year-old happily married man, with children – overall successful in life.
From the age of 13-21, this writer suffered from this supposedly incurable illness.
After much intense soul-searching, I arrived at the understanding described above and have not had a pedophilic impulse for 24 years. In fact, I can hardly recall ever having had this problem. Does this not qualify as cured?
It is my sincere hope that this letter serves to dispel the widespread notion that this is an incurable disease – and to encourage those suffering with this illness to seek help*, with the assurance that they can be fully cured and begin to lead a normal life. Yes, you really can put this all behind you.
* An organization that dedicates itself to helping people with this type of problem has helped me realize my true potential as a human being – and for that I owe a debt of gratitude to JONAH.
An anonymous individual who wishes to convey to you that as long as you are alive, no matter what you have done – and I mean no matter what – you can change and put it all behind you.
Congratulations – albeit belated – are in order! You have triumphed in your quest to seek the truth and to discover your true self – the one intended especially for you by your Creator. Your valiant conquest of the “enemy within” is nothing short of stupendous. You’ve set a shining example and course for others to follow. May good mazal shine upon you and yours forever!
About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.
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