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Ask Dr. Ed Wilfong Your Own Question
Dr. Ed Wilfong
Dr. Ed Wilfong, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1528
Experience:  Twenty-five years treating all ages; Specialities: psychopharmacology & diagnosis, MMPI-2, testing.
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What's your take on a person who has a history of being

Resolved Question:

What's your take on a person who has a history of being unable to cope with the normal events of everday life? Can get a job but can't keep it. Always being broke and needing help. Unable to develop a plan to improve their situation. Situations always someone else's fault. Reasons why can't do better. Inability to develop a plan and stay with it. Did drugs as a teen and young adult but not doing drugs now or for past 2 years. 35 years old female separated, with 9 year old girl. Family is out of funds and emotional ability to continue to "help" her.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Ed Wilfong replied 7 years ago.
Hi. Family in distress is always tough. It seems your family has done all it can to help her, or "Bail her out". She obviously has a history of poor coping skills. She sounds like she has also had the family net to protect her. Quite honestly, the best thing the family can do is cut of their support. If they offer any emotional support, expect it to be abused, but make sure you have FIRM RULES. YOU MUST BE WILLING TO ENFORCE LIMITS. (e.g. if you can't pay rent, you are not staying here). You must mean it and enforce it. Let her stay 1 night and you are screwed. This "tough love" is the ONLY chance of not dealing with this for her entire life. WHEN, and she will, uses kid as leverage, don't let her. Call social services and protect the child. Only when she learns there are real consequences to her beahior and no safety net doe she have a chance, let alone the hell you and other family is going through. I promise it will be hard and she will pull out all the stops. You must be tough or get used to her running the family nuts.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Hi Ed. A little more explaination and answers please. The person in question is my wife's niece. My wife (the Aunt) and her brother have taken the tought love approach but relented on a yearly cycle (because of concern for the 9 year old granddaughter). You indicate that tough love is the only chance of dealing with this. What I don't understand is: If the niece can't change her behavior with help, then how is she going to be able to change her behavior without help? It seems the tough love approach presumes the person has the ability to change. What if she doesn't? Is her behavior a symptom of a psychological disorder that may have behavior modification therapy involved? If her emotional development was arrested by her frequest drug use during her formative years is there a psychological approach to start dealing with her at the level she is at? Although she had in and out patient counseling at 15, she is now 36. I would think there have been some new insights into this type problem since then. Your answer please.

Expert:  Dr. Ed Wilfong replied 7 years ago.
sorry I was out for a while.
The relenting on a yearly basis only serves to support to inability to learn on her own. The reality is she may fail and not get better. It is sad but does happen. Hopefully our society has some safety nets in place should she be unable to cope. The concern for the 9 year old should be given to the 9 year old in terms of getting custody away from mother or involved with social services. In simple terms, Las Vegas gets filthy rich on "paying out" very little. Your wife's niece gets the payout once a year. That is more than enough to keep her from getting "desperate enough" to help herself. She is an adult and has the right to consent to and to refuse treatment. No one knows what the drugs may have done and if counseling or medical treatment will help. And no one will find out until she wants to-which will be her LAST option. There is likely some help available, but she will have to consent. In the meanwhile, protect the 9-year old through legal means or you will have two of them. Perhaps if she is capable of loving her daughter, the fact that society may not allow her to raise her may motivate her. Anytime you give in on ANYTHING, you are at her mercy for a long time. This is not good news, but is a chance to force her into responsibility and also save her daughter.
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