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Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: When is unusual behavior a psychological disorder?


 AM27 - Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:24 pm

I would love to hear your opinion on what could be going on with my brother. Since childhood, he has displayed behaviour that is often out of place or unusual. My parents believed that he would ‘grow out of it’ however he is going on 32 and his behaviour is not improving. It’s hard to explain but I will list some examples.

Impulsive - Fails to think or plan ahead. Will uproot his life (move house, get rid of any belongings that don’t fit in his car & move interstate). Then change his mind and return in a week or so, with nowhere to live. This has happened on 3 occasions over the past 11 years. After one time, he lived with my husband and I for two months before we told him he’d have to move on, as our lives were hectic caring for another brother who was in palliative care. He told my mum that I made him homeless, and he no doubt still holds it against me.

Irritability & Anger – Very easily angered. No control over emotions, in public or at inappropriate times such as family gatherings. Will not say why he is feeling that way. People have to ‘walk on eggshells’ around him, growing up in the same house was a nightmare at times.

Distorted view of the world –Believes people are laughing at him rather than with him. At a first day of a course during the get to know you/introductions part, he said something that made people laugh, he thought they were laughing at him so he stormed out and never went back.

Relationships – All relationships have been with much younger girls. I've always put it down to his immaturity, as it would be more apparent if he were with someone closer to his own age. All his closest friends are female. Had many guy friends in high school (well over 15 years ago now), but felt they all deserted him when they left school and went their separate ways. Could not justify in his mind that that is simply what happens in life.

Employment – Has not been able to hold down any sort of job. His first job at 18 ended when the business could no longer afford to employ him, which is quite reasonable and understanding, but he never moved on or forgave them for losing his job.

He was unemployed for the next 14 years, then got a job (after another interstate move) detailing cars, then worked for another company for a few weeks in a fulltime position. He was living with a friend (female) who was here on a work visa and had to return home. He quit his job (which he said he didn’t care for anyway as they ‘made him stand in the sun all day) quit the lease on his house, and returned to our hometown.

After only 3 weeks, my parents paid a small fortune to move him and his belongings back, as his friend only had to return home for a few weeks to renew paperwork etc before returning. It was another completely irrational action on his behalf, as all he had to do was ask our parents to help him with the rent until his friend returned (or take a second job, or find a new flatmate etc). Of course he blamed his friend, for his predicament in the 3 weeks she was gone, although he had 2 months notice of her impending departure.

Lifestyle – Doesn’t smoke or do drugs but will have a few drinks. Stays awake all night and will sleep during the day. Spends a lot of time on the internet, and met most of his current friends this way. Although unemployed, he spends a lot of money on DVD’s, video games, toys etc. He has always been what you would call a ‘neat freak’ and very orderly. Would go ballistic if you so much as left a crumb on the kitchen bench.


I could go on and on with many more examples but this has probably given a good picture, except for one more thing which is what has prompted me to believe that there must be more going on than what we are aware of, and hence my post here.

My brother who I mentioned that was in palliative care (he had leukaemia), passed away 3 and half years ago. He had had 2 bone marrow transplants for which this brother was the compatible donor. Last week, my brother who passed would have been 27 years old. On the date of his birthday, he contacted my sick brothers then girlfriend (who has supported him though his illness for over 6 years) demanding to know what forms did he sign, and saying that he wanted something for the ‘free bone marrow that he gave away’.

My brother who passed and I were very close, I cannot begin to describe how this made me feel, or my poor parents or his girlfriend who was very understandably upset over the whole thing, after trying hard to move on with her life. How could someone be so heartless?

My parents of course have been worried sick due to this, and because he is also a single parent to my 8 year old nephew, who has been uprooted and dragged here and there at his fathers every whim. We know he is quite capable of looking after his own needs/wants, but we are obviously concerned for his son as his behaviour and thought processes just seem to be getting worse, and it has left me with the thought that there must be some sort of psychological problem?

I appreciate any thoughts you many be able to share and thank you for reading this very long post.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Tue Jul 27, 2010 9:42 pm

Hello AM27,

What a distressing time for you, your family and your brother. The symptoms that you describe are troubling, and could be part of several different possible diagnoses. The only way to be certain of a diagnosis would be for your brother to be evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist. However, the nature of what you describe could be within the range of personality disorders with adjustment disorder features, and could extend to a type of thought disorder. Encouraging your brother to have a psychological evaluation for his own peace of mind may help; there's no other way to know what the diagnosis, if any, would be. Suggesting a specific diagnosis without face to face evaluation is impossible and beyond the limits of this forum. His child is at some risk, and it would be reasonable for you or your parents to speak with your local Children's Protective Services Agency for information and direction.

I sincerely hope this information is helpful to you. Good luck.

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