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Dr. K
Dr. K, Psychiatrist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  15 years clinical experience in all areas of psychiatry. Holistic and practical approach.
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What does "affect - constricted and perplexed" mean?

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What does "affect - constricted and perplexed" actually mean?
That's a great question. So 1st you have mood. Mood is when a clinician asks a patient how they feel today? Their general emotional state...happy, sad, angry, etc. When we type our reports, we often put the mood in quotes as it is supposed to be the word of the other words, it is subjective.

Affect, on the other hand, is the clinician's objective observations of what the mood of the patient appears to be. Usually mood & affect are the same. A person says they feel happy & they look happy.

Sometimes, a patient, for example with bipolar, will say they feel depressed while laughing hysterically...or vice versa. We call this an incongruent affect b/c what they say is not what they appear.

Affect can be measured a few ways: 1) the quality (e.g. happy, sad, tired), 2) the range (e.g. someone with a full range of affect can be feeling average but then get sad when talking about something sad & then laugh when a joke is told.), or 3) the stability (most people have stable affect...some people may have rapid mood changes which shows an unstable affect.

A constricted affect is someone who's emotional state is not full range. A depressed person's affect would be described as "constricted to sad." A manic person would be "constricted to euphoric."

Perplexed is just describing the quality of the affect. The clinic***** *****terally thought the patient seemed perplexed.
Although I don't know enough to tell you the underlying causes of his behavior, there is one major theme that should explain. Sadly, this sounds like a man who, for some reason, has learn that in order to be loved he must also be abused.

This is common in people who were abused by their parents as a child. The child learns that the parent, who loves & takes care of them, also is the one who scolds & beats them. They indirectly learn that love & abuse must go hand in hand.

That's why people who have been abused end in up abusive relationships. Even if he wasn't abused as a child, if he had an abusive wife for 30 years...that would be enough to also explain this.

The next question is why did he stay with her that long...which is likely a long & complicated answer that cannot be answered without talking to him. It's hard to leave a a marriage...after all it's "till death do us part." Some people are also afraid to start over with someone new ("what if this is as good as it gets & the next person is worse") or afraid to be alone.

I understand that your self-esteem feels low at the moment, but likely his is worse. I don't want to guess to much, but one possibility (and there are numerous) is that he freaked out after even a couple arguments with you thinking things might get worse. Or maybe he is so down on himself that he doesn't think he deserves you. Keep in mind, that his subsconscious is likely influencing him so it's possible that he doesn't even realize all the reasons he went back to this abusive woman.

The obvious part here is that it's not your fault. All couples have arguments, so don't get too hung up on the ones you had with him. It might not hurt to try to reach out to him romantically and give it one last shot...but be prepared for the worst case scenario that he conintues to self-sabotage (consciously or subconsciously) and stays with the other abusive woman. If so, move on as best you is too short & you deserve to be happy & live it to the fullest.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you need more feedback. Good luck & take care.
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