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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My 18yr old daugter is in therapy for enmeshment issues. We

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My 18yr old daugter is in therapy for enmeshment issues. We just discovered she's been sneaking out to sleep with a young man she met a couple months ago, and she wants to move in with him at his mother's house. What is the likelyhood that she has chosen someone who also has enmeshment issues?

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

I want to clarify the enmeshment issues your daughter is facing: that's not a diagnosis, it's a behavior. Is she being treated for Borderline Personality Disorder?

If not, what is the diagnosis?

Because that will give us a better idea of how to describe the personality profile of her boyfriend.

What is your hope by knowing whether he may face similar issues?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The results of her MMPI indicate no signs of personality disorder. She is in treatment because of past relationships. I want to know the statistical likelihood that people with these issues will be attracted to others with the same sort of issues. My concern is that, rather than returning her "enmeshment" he may soon tire of her and we'll have to cope with her severe symptoms of withdrawal. BTW, her therapist is in the ER right now -- it appears her husband may have had a heart attack so she's out of pocket for the time being. Thanks!


Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how worrisome this situation must be for you. I need you to understand that I can't give you any statistical information. There have been no studies conducted on the personality types of people attracted to people with enmeshment issues, let alone large scale studies that would be able to give such figures.

But I can tell you from my experience as a psychologist working with people in therapy and answering thousands of questions from people all over the world:

Your real concern is not that he has enmeshment issues as well. That's not as common. Your real concern is that he tends toward being narcissistic. What do I mean?

Enmeshment issues (EI) refers to having boundaries that aren't functioning efficiently: being so personally involved in the other person and their issues, etc. that the person's "self" is not separate from the other person in healthy ways. Rather than complementing the person, the one with EI tends to get swallowed up into the other person emotionally.

Narcissistic people are emotional "swallowers" of other people. They have no sense of the other person's boundaries, only their own. And so they tend to attract people who have EI. This is of concern. Because they can be very rigid and controlling people.

I can't say, of course, anything about her boyfriend as I know nothing about him. But I can tell you that in psychological practice, this is the greater concern.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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