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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: family member with personality disorder


 spr09 - Thu Apr 16, 2009 4:10 pm

My m-i-l suffers from a personality disorder - from what we read it seems like BPD. She suffers from insomnia and her moods cycles through periods of mania (extreme rage) and depression and she twists everything we say. In her bad moods she does not trust any of her family members and throws out lots of accusations. She does not live with us but the long distance relationship stresses her out. Ever since my marriage she has expressed fears that I will take her son away from her. But, we keep in touch with her, calling her every weekend and talking. She is very manipulative and will rage till she gets things done her way. After my baby was born, she immediately wanted to visit us as any excited grandmother would but threw a huge fit, threatening and raging to be invited over when she came to know that my parents are planning a visit - calling her son names and claiming that he had abandoned her and had failed to fulfill his duties like a good son. She wanted to be the caretaker of her first grandson. So we invited her over, but she used the opportunity to mock me, make sarcastic comments - basically pick up a fight and now I dislike dealing with her all the more. This year she wants to visit us again, and is again throwing a fit demanding that we keep the baby home. But I feel its best to get the babysitting out the picture and keep the baby in daycare where he enjoys. I gave her the option of picking him up early afternoon so she has something to look forward to each day and will also meet my need of protecting myself and my child. She does not have any other hobbies, gets bored easily and needs people around to gossip. She cannot drive, but we encourage her to keep herself busy in the weekdays during her visits by taking walks, or watching TV, or browsing. No one in the family wants to tell her that she has a personality disorder and needs to get medical help because they fear she will commit suicide due to the stigma attached, so we are just pulling along. I worry she will overreact if she does not get her way of babysitting her grandson and may do something drastic. How do we handle her?
 Tim W Latsko - Wed Apr 29, 2009 10:05 pm

spr09, thanks for posting your question; as you pointed out the first concern is for the physical safety of yourself, child, m-i-l, and others. That said, it is appropriate to to trust your instinct and to take action to prevent harm. Now....

you are correct it is likely that you mil will not receive your or any other family member's diagnosis well, even if you are professional with clinical experience....the decesion to inform your mil of her diagnosis rests with the clinician treating her, as it is their responsibility to ensure that sharing such information with will not cause additional harm....it may be necessary to encourage her to meet with a skilled clincian experienced in providing services to patients with conditions which you suspect you mil to have.....or it may be necessary to share with her your concern about her depression or irritabilty...or you can even suggest that you would like to meet with a therapist for a family session with her present and after a session or so, a skilled clinician will/may recommend individual treatment for her...without you even suggesting to her or the clinician of your concerns....other than what is disclosed regarding her symptoms during the session....who know that clinician may recommend that you try individual therapy, as well....

thanks and keep us posted....


tim\lmft

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