Adult Children Issue on Dr. Phil

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    • #61208

      I watched Dr. Phil on Monday, October 15, to see someone I knew try to save his estranged adult daughter. I went to high school with him and knew his family. His daughter has accused him of horrible things, and has gone on to accuse most everyone of horrible things. Now, I haven’t seen this man in decades, but I sat and watched in horror. Dr. Phil said that he had found no evidence to support her accusations, but what was most interesting was what Dr. Phil presented on a bell curve as he talked about the possible reasons for her actions. “What if what she says happened is what she really believes happened?” he questioned. This person started drugs when she was 13 and continued down that path for a very long time. With that, Dr. Phil said her brain’s wiring and response system were impacted, which could possibly lead to her actually believing that those horrible events happened. So she’s off to a place for help and the family waits and waits.
      I thought of all of us and I know many have dealt with mental health issues in their adult children. I don’t have answers, but that question about the possibility of what some of them say happened to them is what they really believe happened due to mental health issues is interesting. What do you think? You might can still catch it online. I’m not sure. I just thought of all of us.

    • #61214

      This question has come up here before—about mental illness, and how if the son or daughter is mentally ill, isn’t it the right thing to do to stay in the drama? That the son or daughter isn’t doing it on purpose, has no choice themselves, etc and so on.

      I think it depends on the drama, as well as a lot of other things. But if a son or daughter is saying and doing horribly hurtful things, and is an ADULT, whose behavior we cannot control, then it is not unreasonable to step away. It’s a horrible thing that parents are sometimes basically helpless as an adult we have loved and nurtures self destructs.

      In a Dr. Phil TV world, everything can be easy. The daughter goes off to counseling and apparently wants to do so. As so many in this forum, in my surveys, in emails, and in many other places have indicated though … their son or daughter didn’t want help, left the counseling office in a huff, said it was all the parents’ fault, etc and so on. In other words, back to square one: this is an adult, and we have no control of the other person (only of ourselves).

      It’s still sad though.

      The Dr. Phil Show asks for problem/situation suggestions and is inundated and chooses based on the show (and that’s what it is—a show, orchestrated to enlighten in some ways and entertain in others, the balance of which may be skewed for reasons you can speculate on).

      Many years ago, I sat in the audience of that show with a friend who watches on television regularly. We went two, or maybe even three times. Like any show, it has a director. The audience is cued to smile, clap, cheer. And the families and individuals on stage are chosen and the show scripted for drama. I don’t watch the show, but did catch it from time to time in the past. The way it’s cut around commercials so there are hooks was sometimes, in my opinion, exploitive.

      Does this mean I think he’s a bad man or that the show is no good. I haven’t seen it in a long time, so my opinion would not be useful on that (nor do I really have an opinion on it). I do know that his book Life Code helped a lot of people, and that’s a good thing. I also remember seeing some discussions in the past where he had apparently done a show on estrangement, and there were parents who were angry that he blamed them. He’s very popular, and there must be a reason for that: as in, he’s helping people. And that’s a good thing.

      Getting back to the mental illness question… I hope that the family will be able to reconcile, and that the daughter will be helped. I hope that others here, who have a child who asserts horrible things that are not true, will be able to come to peace about it and make the best of their lives.

      Sheri McGregor

    • #61222

      Sheri, I agree completely and i am not a follower of that show. I watched it only because the father asked. Families with grown adult children cannot tolerate abuse, and as we all know that abuse can come from mental illness, entitlement, ex spouses and other avenues. In my opinion, even if it does come from mental health issues, there must be boundaries or else everyone gets traumatized. I often wonder about mental health issues with my daughters. The puzzle pieces are difficult. Thanks for your comment. Hope no one thought I was endorsing that possibility. I had just never thought of it before.

    • #61225

      Oh, no. It didn’t sound like you were endorsing at all. And likewise, I didn’t intend to sound scolding!

      I think you’re right about the boundaries.


    • #61231
      Yellow RoseYellow Rose

      I am not crazy about that TV show but I am forever grateful for Life Code. I appreciate your post walkingforward. What Dr. Phil is saying is brain science. It’s a good thing to have in my head to think about. We parents often forget or fantasize that if we just do blank, we’ll all reconcile and sing happy songs. We forget about brain health or brain damage. And I do believe some people are just plain old mean spirited or like to inflict pain because it makes them feel better inside of their own selves.

    • #61230

      Hello all,

      I just had to chime in and add to some very good points already given, although probably won’t be received by all
      as popular or valid…that’s o.k….like I said, just another thought.

      The criteria used to determine whether a mentally ill person is responsible for their behavior is whether they are able to choose right from wrong. While I do believe there are very small percentages of people that fit being that ill,
      i have not seen any indications of that being so in people on this web site.

      I believe the new category needs to be, and much more accurately to describe these people is “ungrateful brats”, as continuing to give them an out and no consequences
      for their actions is not going to result in anything but getting away with what they are doing. They are emotional murderers, sociopaths who use the fact that people love them as their weapon of choice. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is elder abuse in its worst form, and laws to be enforced, added to, and consequences put into action. If parents abandon their children, the world is beside themselves. This is no different…and for the most the most part it is being ignored. I also might want to add that walking away because I have no other choice to survive is going to do anything to change the damage done to me , or do anything to change my EC, or the damages to the future generation being poisoned by their narcissistic parents.

      I do not believe these estranged adults are unable to stop their behavior, or that they don’t know the harm their behavior is manifesting—they know exactly what they are causing, and worse yet, they are gaining pleasure from
      their actions. I call those criminals, and they need to be prosecuted like any other criminal.

      Love to the nicest group of people who deserve the best,

    • #61249

      Huh?, nothing about you gives me the impression that you are here for a popularity contest. I like you 🙂

      Your point about the criteria of a mentally ill person is understood. Our AC know right from wrong, so I can’t imagine that the “Mom blaming” mentality will impress any respectable judge.

      I am not sure if my state’s elder abuse laws apply to my situation. However, until the laws are revised, we can only rely on the ones that currently exist. You make a great point about parents allowing our children to get away with their actions by not enforcing the consequences. You sound just like my dear friend.

      On that note, he finally returns from overseas on Saturday (I can’t wait). He is incensed at the way I was treated by my son and abhorrent ex in-laws. He believes the best way to help someone who is unremorseful, is to hold them accountable to the law.

      Huh?, yes I heard you.

    • #61252

      I am certain my son has a mental illness, and may even have borderline personality disorder. He certainly has a majority of the narcissistic tendencies, and part of my turmoil after the estrangement was that me, his mother, was deserting him when he was sick. The guilt was horrendous.

      My other guilt issue was learning about how my son’s treatment of his sisters throughout their early lives affected them. He is three years older than my elder daughter, and 10 years older than my younger daughter, and was always very demanding and needy. He was also articulate and an amazing arguer even from a very early age. He would whine and wheedle to get his own way, and as a single parent it was just easier to give in, to the detriment of his sisters. I also gave into him to prevent his father from ‘dealing to him’, so I always felt like the peace-maker between the two of them. The poor girls just stood aside and let it happen.

      When my son finally decided to cut me out of his life, he thought his sisters would back him, especially after he sent them his opinions and website links to show that I was toxic, an N-Mom, etc etc, but it back-fired on him, and the girls said they could finally breathe a sigh of relief. To not have to put up with his tantrums, his demands, his opinions, his shutting down of them dah dah dah …. which they had tolerated all his life because this is what I as their mother had done, was an amazing relief they said.

      My poor girls had been terribly bullied, and I had completely missed it. After the final email, the girls and I went away for a weekend to debrief, and cried for about five hours while they told their stories about having been bullied by him for so many years. My elder daughter’s friend had told her that my son had attempted to rape her, and she confronted her brother about it. He denied it, and said she had come on to him and he’d pushed her away, so this was her revenge. I had told my daughter that if he wanted a relationship with her brother she had to believe him over her friend. Apparently she cried for days, and I never noticed. So many stories like this came out, and I couldn’t believe that my girls would stand by me after all of these terrible incidents that I had ignored and even condoned their brother’s behaviour.

      Towards the end of the relationship with my son, the younger daughter decided she didn’t want anything more to do with her brother. They had had an altercation, and she had stood up for herself. He didn’t like it and physically threatened her. I told them that as adults they needed to sort it out themselves, which is what I had always said. Looking back, it was a terrible thing to say. They had both left home and didn’t really cross paths, so them not seeing each other worked for a while. Until her graduation dinner at home to which she didn’t want him invited. He turned up unexpectedly, and saw we were having a dinner without him. As my daughter said, he didn’t even know she had been at Uni, let alone graduating, so why would she want him there? He was never interested in anything any of us did, and never listened to us, in fact he told us to stop talking when he was with us, because nothing we ever said interested him.

      At the dinner, he was dumbstruck, and stood in the dining room apologising to us all, and asking us what he could do to change, but my daughter wouldn’t have a bar of it. She left the room, and said later that she believed he would never change. I cried. It was like he was two years old all over again, and he had me over a barrel. I would have done ANYTHING for us all to have fixed this, but the girls were adamant it was all a farce.

      After the dinner fiasco, he began to blame me for the bad relationship he had with his sisters. Email after email came, and I thought I would lose all of them. It culminated with him finally saying that he wanted nothing more to do with me, and at that point the girls felt they could finally breathe.

      The girls have helped me to stop feeling guilty about ignoring his bullying of them, because as they see it, I was bullied too. They have also told me that if ever their brother realises what he has lost and wants to reconnect, they never ever will. If he comes back into my life, that’s ok, but they want nothing to do with him ever again. And all I can say is fair enough, but it’s tough.

      I have now gotten over the dreadful guilt I felt about ‘abandoning’ him if he is sick, and the guilt when I realised the damage his bullying had done to the girls. My elder daughter stands up for what she believes in, and doesn’t take any prisoners, and the younger one has anxieties about people not liking her. She is receiving help for this, and she feels that although he brother was probably to blame for it, she has taken responsibility for it herself, and can now manage it.

      As mothers, we have a huge responsibility. We bring these children into the world to love and cherish. We nurture and give all our time and energy into making our children into good citizens, but we can only do so much. Somewhere, our children need to take on the persona and responsibilities of adulthood, and stop blaming others for their problems. I am eternally grateful to Sheri, and the wonderful people who post here who have helped me realise these things, and have helped me overcome my GUILT which had threatened to cripple me.


    • #61273

      Dear Dotty,

      Your post is inspirational. Thank you for your courage in sharing. There are far more people that can relate to this than you may ever know.

      Sheri McGregor

      • #61445

        Dear Sheri

        Thank you for your reply to my post. It was very healing to write it all down, and one day I will write it all down from start to finish. It really does seem to help so much.


    • #61253

      This post is very helpful to me. Thank you for all these points. I believe my EC have mental health issues because of things that happened to them before they came to our family. We have spent a lot of time and money to help them and it was helpful when they were children but as adults, they do not let me help them and just blame me. Our family therapist once told me that I get the blame because I am safe and I am here, unlike their birth mother. I guess we signed on for that when we adopted them.

      But I need to be healthy, too. So I have given up on trying to help them anymore, until they want me back in their life. And because of how I was treated when I have tried to help them, now I am worried that helping them in the future would just lead to another estrangement and more blame and more hate. So I have just plain had enough of it. I just can’t be their punching bag anymore.

    • #61260

      Huh? – I couldn’t agree more with what you have said. I do believe that these kids KNOW what they are doing and USE the love of a parent as a weapon against us to get what they want. I know from my experience that we only were treated nice when they wanted something or thought they could get something from us. As the wedding approaches (8 days away) I can’t help but wonder if after we have contributed financially to said wedding if we will not be ignored or bullied into submission again.

      My husband and I had a serious discussion about things the other night. Mostly because I am having stomach issues again and they have gotten really bad this last month, due to stress about the wedding I am sure, but to the point I have made a doctors appointment because of sever and troubling signs that something is wrong. One of the things I told him is I don’t want to do anything until after the wedding because I don’t want anymore stress at this point. I also think that after the wedding I need to distance myself from my son and his wife until I get whatever is going on under control. Being around them causes me too much anxiety.

      I know I need to make a very big lifestyle change and it isn’t going to be easy. I know I need to reduce stress as much as possible. Walking on eggshells around them or worrying about what I say, how I act or if I step out of line (in their minds) is always on my mind when they are around. We have distanced ourselves as much as possible this last month only really texting once and a while regarding wedding issues but they are coming to our house tomorrow and then going to a party with us of mutual friends. I find myself dreading this yet again.

      There was a thread about forgiveness last week and I know this is key to me being better and moving forward with them but I just don’t think at this time I am able to do this. I don’t think that my son understands what he did, I really don’t think he get’s the damage he caused me and our relationship. Is this because he has a mental disorder? No, I don’t think so. I think it is because he has no empathy. I think he is selfish. I think he was a spoiled brat. Once it seemed to him that his actions were forgiven he doesn’t think about it again. He just moves forward with his selfish life not caring that he may have completely broken his own mother. We had one talk about it in July when I told him he broke something and he has avoided any further one on one conversations with me since.

      I don’t believe they are able to stop this behavior either. I do believe we are only on a pause of estrangement at this time. I do believe that he will use my love for him as a weapon once again. I do believe that he has decided this is how he controls me. And it does.

      My only choice for my health is to take a break after this wedding and try to get my health issues under control. I have to focus on me. Right now I am so worried about dealing with her family at the wedding I can’t enjoy the celebration like a parent should. I can’t look forward to celebrating the union of my son and FDIL. I can’t have a bright outlook on things. All I feel is a heaviness on my heart that is sometimes smothering. If I let myself think about it too much I feel like my skin is crawling. I can’t get over the thought that he is making the biggest mistake of his life. It’s like a train is baring down on my son and all I can do is watch. I can’t push him out of the way, I can’t take the hit for him. I am helpless but to watch this happen.

      So my only choice is to let it happen, let him deal with the life he has chosen and love from a distance. Not get involved in things and hope that they mature together in a way that allows us to be a part of their lives in some fashion.

      The problem with coming to acceptance with estrangement is that once you do it is hard to go backwards. Once you have detached………….. the bond is broken. Once your heart has felt that kind of pain and you have put the wall up it is very hard to start tearing down the bricks.

      Dr. Phil isn’t going to fix this problem. Dr. Phil might have an entertaining hour on the subject but an hour can’t even scratch the surface of what estrangement really is or what it really does to a family and the bond that should be unbreakable.

    • #61275

      Very thought provoking thread and insights…. I’m not a mental health professional, but experienced Life with a mentally ill mother.

      My mother was bipolar. I discovered that diagnosis only by chance, while searching for another issue in her medical records. She seemed surprised, and said she was never told by her doctor. I wondered. (Fifty years ago, the medical community was very different. Or, she could have been in complete denial and chose Not to hear it.)

      But — this brought new awareness of her manipulative behaviors and extreme mood swings. Since behaviors are learned, I called her out at times — the drama, the lies, etc — to which she actually admitted and took responsibility for. She seemed actually enlightened.

      This same issue is present in my current estrangement situation. (Not my EC, but an involved party.) This party instigated drama and perpetuated discord — was called out, and did Not Like it, or claim responsibility. A lot of ‘foot stomping’ and more drama (manipulation, blame) ensued.

      So, the same diagnosis, two different people, two different choices.

      Of course there are many variables in situations regarding mental health issues. Some are more severe than others. I empathize. And agree: bottom line is — we can only control ourselves. And we do not deserve to be continually wounded by the behavior of those who Choose not to take responsibility for their own actions.


      • #61296

        Zinnia, mental illness can impact family dynamics. Bipolar has become the diagnosis du jour in America. It is concerning because if misdiagnosed, the prescribed medication can cause serious adverse reactions. I know this for a fact. I advocate for medical providers to consult with a long standing provider familiar with the patient before diagnosing a mental illness.

        Your mother’s behaviors that you list can fall under numerous other diagnoses, situations, circumstances and can even be symptoms of abuse. Biologically based mental illness and a personality disorder are NOT synonymous. Biological mental illnesses are beyond the patient’s control just as Lupus or Cystic fibrosis. They can be managed well with medication, where PD cannot.

        I am not convinced that mental illness is synonymous with bad behavior. However, I sometimes wonder what the diagnosis would be for someone who steals, deceives, lies and feigns victim without any show of remorse (?).
        — to which she actually admitted and took responsibility for. She seemed actually enlightened.” ~ Zinnia

        Given that fact, one can rule out a PD. When called out on bad behavior, a “Cluster B'”PD will never rise to that level of decency, and you can count on them to dig themselves in deeper. It is good to hear that you are an understanding and compassionate daughter to your mother. Reducing her to a diagnosis could stunt your ability to appreciate all of the value she brought into your life and her good qualities. Life brings trials, and I can only imagine the struggles of being born with Bipolar disorder.

        Many blessings to you,


    • #61285

      Very good comments. I agree with many of you. My big issue is that my family never went to my ES and told him what he did to his mother was wrong, that we don’t treat family like that especially your mother. No consequences to his actions. No one stood up for us against his abuse, so why would he think what he did was wrong when it is only my husband and I telling him how wrong it was.
      Someone earlier called them “spoiled brats” and I agree, but again they are adults and are responsible for their actions and behavior. If my ES forgets all I have done for him or not appreciate all I did….then I am done. I dont know if I will every go back. After 2 years my heart has finally mend (atleast as much as it can). It is dealing with my oldest son and the gc issue that I am dealing with now

      We have a vacation coming up. I am looking at it as time to get my marriage back on track, my heart back on track and my confidence back on track. I was and still am a good mom. If they refuse to see that or hold things I didnt do for them against me, so be it.

      I know some find it hard to to the separation thing. But a lot of times it is the only answer for our survival

      Hugs from the farm

    • #61287

      I don’t care for those shows either, maybe they help some but I am very skeptical of pop psychology. There is a popular tendency to oversimplify, to diagnose anyone who behaves in ways we find baffling and hurtful as being “mentally ill” – we hypothesize that they’re hard-wired wrong, they have this or that, we need explanations. But it is a matter of degrees – one can be a little crazy, medium, or a lot – same for character disorders. There is a spectrum, some may have just traits. Substance abuse complicates things, so does family history and a genetic predisposition. Or it’s a mix of everything. It’s true that some EC may have mental issues and delusions, but it’s also true that many turned out to be not nice people and seem to have selective “disorders”, apparently functioning ok with friends, at work and other aspects of life but feeling completely free to lose it and unleash rage and abuse at their parents whenever they feel like it. Mmmmm…..
      Boundaries on behaviors are essential. On locked psych units, residential settings etc. there are rules and structure, it’s not like anything goes. This is for the protection and well being of all. Why should it be any different in our lives? I know it’s a lot harder with our children – it’s ok to let them know we are here for them with love and support but we have to make it clear that there is a line. Decide where the line begins and ends, it can be revisited from time to time depending on the circumstances but it has to exist or we will never have any kind of peace and a decent life.

    • #61405

      Dear Beehere: thanks for explaining all that. It’s a little confusing to me, as I witnessed manic and depressive episodes, and the helpful effects medication had on her. I really am intrigued now to learn more about personality disorders. Can you suggest books or websites? I’d also like to know more about anxiety disorders. My ED suffers from this.

      It’s very sad to me that my Mother passed before I fully understood all she had to deal with. Thankfully, there was no excitement, or I would be riddled with guilt. My way of coping was to set boundaries and try to communicate with her. In the end, I was her caretaker, and she apologized profusely for many of her actions.

      Walkingforward, thank you for this thread and, Everyone, for your thoughts. I am learning so much and appreciate all of you!


      • #61563

        Hello Zinnia,

        I apologize for not responding sooner. On Saturday, my Dear friend came home from an overseas trip, and we are throwing a surprise birthday party for his youngest on this coming Saturday (busy, busy, busy).

        I did not know your mother and I am not qualified to diagnose mental illness. However, since you are seeking information, I suggest that you avoid any sites or books written or attended by anyone unqualified to diagnose. There are many factors involved and sometimes even those who are qualified, misdiagnoses and it happens every day. Medicine IS NOT an exact science.

        A qualified professional should consider a Physical exam, Lab tests, Mental health history, Personal history, Mental evaluation, Cognitive evaluation, and especially any history of Trauma. The symptoms of PTSD vary and overlap other disorders. I believe version 5 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is most current and it lists 10 personality disorders and their criteria. And search results listed as “Scholarly” are most reliable.

        Zinnia, in regards to your mother, the fact that she expressed so much remorse and apologized for her actions rings bells that she did NOT have a personality disorder that lists a lack of empathy as a criteria. In other words, it is a great thing and sad thing. It is great that your mom did not have one of those PDs, and sad that she was born with a disorder that caused her to suffer so.

        You set boundaries and communicated which is the best that anyone can do, Bipolar or not. You cared for and accepted her, not because she was perfect, but because you loved your mom. You are a wonderful daughter and your mother was blessed to have you!

        It is safe to say that maintaining lies, fear of exposure, inability to control, unresolved anger, untreated/undiagnosed illness and distorted thoughts would result in severe symptoms of anxiety. Would you agree?


    • #61411

      I saw the show you spoke about and was surprised at Dr. Phil’s response. I have watched in the past and he has always taken the children’s side no matter what.
      But in this one, his assessment was surprising. Our EC have all accused us of things that we don’t remember doing. All 3 of them have mental health issues, from bipolar, anorexia, bulimia and addiction. All 3 of them have been taken to counselors, psychiatrists and have try meds. All 3 of them claim they are “cured” and I should no longer bring it up. But still, their abusive, irresponsible and disrespectful actions continue. They act the way they did at the age they were diagnosed. I have decided long time ago, not to be part of this constant emotional and painful abuse and do not speak to them. My husband does because their anger is apparently toward me only. My husband was a workaholic while they were growing up and his presence in our home was almost non-existent. And when he was home, he was too tired for anything. Still, he can do no wrong and I gladly let him talk to them. I am done.

    • #61704

      Beehere, thank you.. I too have been very busy. Hubby and I are on a ‘staycation’ this week, and are playing catch-up w house issues and visiting his relatives.

      I meant to say “Thankfully, there was no ‘Estrangement’ (not ‘excitement’) between my mother and myself, in my last post. Silly cell phones.

      I do agree with your thoughts of anxiety. This thread has sent me off to learn more. Thank you, thank you!

      Hugs to all!

    • #61736

      There have been so many amazing comments on this thread. Earlier this year I took a crisis intervention class for my employment. It was a class on how to de-escalate a disgruntled person from a customer service standpoint and was put on by a private group who instructs law enforcement personnel. We learned about the differences between mental illness and personality disorders and that many of the symptoms are similar, but personality disorders are learned behaviors that medication will not help, whereas mental illness would be something like schizophrenia. People with personality disorders even have distorted thinking patterns and they do believe their accusations. The big difference is that people with personality disorders , as stated previously, do not show remorse, and they are never wrong, it is everyone else who is wrong. Many times people with personality disorders can operate with multiple disorders that have been grouped into 3 clusters A,B, and C. They can be helped with psychotherapy. There are also several kinds of narcissits, and the sad thing is they very rarely change because “they don’t have a problem”. We were cautioned that many people who suffer from personality disorders can “appear” to have empathy when it serves them and gets results they desire, but it is nothing more than a tool of manipulation. I think that is where many of people fit.

      Something that has really bothered me in my situation, about distorted thinking patterns is the fact that my sister replaced me as a mother to my daughter. I even told her I felt that way. She stated to others because she can’t speak to me as she is physically afraid of me that “she was not trying to step on toes” when she and her husband let my daughter move in to their home 25 feet from mine. They drove her to college, they acted like her parents. My sisters daughter who had heen fighting with her mother accused her of taking over my daughter (her words). Fast forward 2 years later, my neice has reconciled with her mother. She told me herself her mother was really trying this time during my daughters wedding plans to “not step on anyones toes”. She was not attending the bridal shower, nor the wedding dinner so we could spend time alone. It turns out that she attended the wedding that I couldn’t go into because I am not in the religious group, then snuck out the back door after the wedding and everyone was asking where they were so they could be involved in the family pictures. The coveted family dinner? A text after I left the wedding of pizza at a pizza chain. My sister was involved in all of my daughters contributions as decorations for the reception that followed. My daughter asked me to help her, then blew me off. Even asked if I wanted to help decorate and when I went, they weren’t really decorating that day, but my sister spoke with her several times on the phone during my visit, and she confirmed that my sister was helping her finish with the rest of her part the day of the reception.

      When I mentioned to my neice that my sister had clearly been meaning to step on toes by her actions, she she told me I was ungrateful. That her mom had really tried this time to be respectful. That she did nothing wrong because her “intentions were good”. She could not understand that if you are trying to show someone respect and you are doing something they don’t view as respectful, it doesn’t make them feel respected. My neice told me I was making her mom sound evil and hasn’t spoke to me since.

      I think there are many people out there who think they are so special they honestly can’t see how they hurt others, and by simply forgiving and turning the other cheek we reinforce their superiority.

    • #61754

      While I agree with much of what you said, movinon, it’s not as simple as saying personality disorders are learned behaviors. In the last several years, and increasingly, neurological research is showing that the brains of those with personality disorders have functional differences from those who do not. More emotional reactivity, for instance, that shows up in the amygdala … blah blah blah. With some, there are even blood biomarkers among those affected.

      The research is showing that there are genetic predispositions, biological influences, and even the combination of things (biosocial). And as more is learned, more money will be afforded toward more research.

      When personality disorders are not helped by medication (and you’re right), it’s because the medications are often prescribed for something that’s comorbid with the PD…and it doesn’t work because the PD is stronger or more at the core of what’s going on. So, for instance, an individual with BPD might also be depressed. However, medicating the depression doesn’t work because it won’t get at the core issue that drives it all.

      Therapeutic interventions can work, but the key is the affected individual’s motivation. And sometimes, those who are affected ARE motivated. The motivation may come because the PD-affected life is not working for them, they have no friends anymore, family can no longer tolerate them, etc. Or, their PD even puts them at risk to get involved with people who recognize their weaknesses and exploit them. There have been a few stories on the forum that fit that scenario. Sometimes, those exploitations are worse than other times.

      Anyway, I’m empathetic to some of these persons with personality disorders. Even within those who are affected, people are individuals. Some have bigger hearts and a conscience, and are truly hurt when they see the hurt they themselves cause (and some do). Others, don’t give a hoot who they hurt (same as non-affected people who don’t care about anyone but themselves). Self-reflection is one difficulty for many with PDs, because their sense of “self” is so fragmented to begin with. That’s why THE RIGHT therapy, for a motivated individual, can really help.

      I agree with your last comment! There really are people out there who don’t care about anyone, and by allowing the behavior, we can reinforce that they’re “special,” more worthy, and more important than everyone else. I feel for parents, though, because sometimes, what is viewed as teen angst or something the “children” will grow out of, is actually a PD (or a bad person). Parents’ pattern of forgiveness and our faith that they will grow out of it can become a deep groove that’s etched in and forms byways into other relationships. Some parents have been protecting their son or daughter for so long that when they finally tell others about what’s been happening, other people think, huh? That’s not the XX I know….

      It can all be so complicated. And when threatened with exposure, a “child” with PD may make threats or act out in some other way that really is a threat for the parents so that for a parent to disengage becomes a really tough thing, and may mean losing an awful lot. It’s very sad, and I feel for these parents so very much.

      HUGS to all of you.

      Sheri McGregor

    • #61782

      Note–I went and watched the episode of the show that was the start to this thread. I have to say, it was fairly well done. It depicted the “wits end” state that can occur with family members who are often powerless to change things. I said in another thread that sometimes things are seen as teenage rebellion or angst, when they’re really the start of something much worse (mental illness, a personality disorder….), and that may be true with the young woman in the show.

      The place where she will go looks lovely, and I’m sure they give wonderful care and treatment to those who are privileged to get their care. I hope she will benefit … and then the whole family will also benefit. The sad thing is that such care isn’t available to all people, nor would some even be willing to go.

      I hope there will be a follow up, and answers provided. Despite the drama that makes it a “show,” it would be educational, I think.

      I’m not sure it’s just a toxicity thing (but who am I to second guess the Doc!?). It would be interesting to know what they discover or conclude.

      I won’t put a link, but the show is out there, October 15, 2018. If anyone wants to watch and write more here. I may add something about this in an upcoming website post as well. Thanks for posting about it here, walkingforward.

      HUGS to all,
      Sheri McGregor

    • #61786

      “Genetic epidemiologic studies indicate that all ten personality disorders (PDs) classified on the DSM-IV axis II are modestly to moderately heritable.” The genetic epidemiology of personality disorders. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2010;12(1):103-14.

      Thank you Sheri. Although I am well read on the behaviors of several PDs, my knowledge base lacks information regarding genetic links. Your post prompted me to begin exploring that information. I confess to finding shelter in denial that my children may have a PD that extends beyond having traits. Perhaps it is due to the poor prognosis and/or the acceptance that nothing I do will fix or change it. And I might explore the possibility that factual information may nudge me off of the hook that holds me back …

      I guess I needed a trusted source to point me in the right direction. Your efforts and the information is most appreciated.

      Thank you,

    • #61792


      If you look at specific disorders, you can find more thorough information that is newer than the 2010 (generalized) article you cited. And of course, we’re on to DSM-5 now…albeit not to many huge changes.

      My studies are putting me in touch with all of this, and I’m so grateful to find the body of knowledge and research is growing. It validates what many already “know.”

      Sheri McGregor

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