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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Why does my married sister continue to send money to a man

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Why does my married sister continue to send money to a man she only knows online and knows that it is fraud?

Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. You are clearly a sensible person as well as a caring sibling to your sister. So you watch as your sister has lost so much money and yet she keeps going after the same delusional hope time after time. It is so frustrating.

This is a little like the Nigerian email scam. I'm sure you've had an email or heard of it: some Nigerian government official needs your bank account information to keep half a billion dollars safe for a week and in exchange you'll get 50 million or some such amount. Right?

I read an article last year in the Wall Street Journal that reported that around 6-8 billion dollars have been lost to these scams! I may not remember the numbers exactly, but it's close to that. Remarkable, isn't it? How can people do such things?

In psychological terms we understand this as a type of addiction. Gambling is a good example. Though this is an addiction to being "gullible". If you look above at what I wrote to you at the top of my answer, you'll see the similarity to a gambling (or pornography, or any other addiction):

The person knows that they lost more than they could afford last time, they know that they're going to lose it again. That it is destructive to them. They know that this is not a healthy way to be. But that knowledge is only in a part of their "selves". There is a part of their selves that needs to feel hopeful, that needs to feel like they are going to "win", that they are going to have things work out, that things will be good for them.

This need to feel that hope gets "stuck" into the delusional and self destructive vision of the casino for a gambler, or a Nigerian email, or a man on the internet for your sister. It is a compulsive addictive behavior.

This is very unfortunate. The treatment for compulsive addictions is very intensive psychotherapy. The person has to be removed from the addictive trigger. So here it is the online site, or the internet completely, or from access to money. And therapy needs to accompany it with a psychologist who is experienced in treating compulsive addictive behavior.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


How does one find help for this condition when she can't find enough work now to pay her current bills, let alone the man online?

Yes, this is a tragic situation she is in.


First of all, there are a few steps to take. I'm assuming she is on Medicare. That's important.


She needs to go to her doctor. You may have to be present as this may be emotionally tough for her. But there needs to be an evaluation made for onset of dementia disorders. It's important to rule out any connection between her behavior and an onset of a disorder.


Then, the Medicare provider's list in her area needs to be looked at and you need to call psychologists who accept Medicare in her area. It would be great if her doctor can refer you to someone. But you might have to just start making calls.


Another approach, though, to finding a psychologist is to look online in your area for someone who works with older populations in compulsive disorders and addictions. Or,

here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (they show you a photo of the therapist!) look at the listing and see if they list working with older people. Interview the therapist and make sure he/she shares your values and you feel confident in him or her. You may need to make sure you go to the initial visit at least with her so that the therapist gets a complete picture of what's going on.

http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/

I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX


Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Thank you so much. I will try your suggestions.

Please do. I know how frustrating and distressing this must be. It's very difficult to see someone we care for succumbing to compulsive, addictive behavior that is so destructive. She's fortunate to have you there worrying about her.


If you would give a rating of 3-5 before you leave the question, I would be very grateful. All the best to you,


Dr. Mark
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