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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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How can I deal with a sister who has a personality disorder

Resolved Question:

How can I deal with a sister who has a personality disorder due to a very dysfunctional family background, where with two girls, one polarised towards the oppressed but normal mother and the other towards the tyrannical father. My sister has acted out cruelty towards me- signed over the family home behind my back, told me I had psychological problems and is mercenary in nature. She is quite weird but is a doctor, so cannot be told anything-- she has a constantly startled look on her face and had a major breakdown when she was about 20- I had one too, but it only lasted a month. She went abroad but brought her problems with her. I have not had a satisfactory relationship with a man- my former fiance has problems too. I need to sort out my life now and want a loving relationship if only to avoid being sucked into a bad re-run of my parent's relationship, by being a carer when my sister gets old
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 7 years ago.

It sounds like you care very much about your sister and your family. It is difficult to deal with the effects of such a traumatic background, particularly when it's still affecting everyone even after the direct family dysfunction is no longer as present.

It seems you have taken a lot of the trauma on to yourself with this situation. Your sister's response to the childhood problems has spilled over into your relationship with her and her inability to see her issues separate from you sounds poor to non existent.

Fortunately, you have a choice in how you want to respond to your sister's behavior. But, only you can decide what steps to take. You have some choices in how you want to approach your relationship with your sister and her family. You definitely do not need to accept any type of emotional abuse either directly or indirectly. Increasing your own self esteem would go a long way in helping you see what is your sister's issues and what are your own. Defining the boundaries in your relationship with your sister would also help.

How do I do this?

Here are some steps you can take to make this happen:

  • Distance yourself for a predetermined period of time. During this time, do not have contact with your sister that is not planned by you. This will limit her ability to manipulate you when you are off guard. This way, it is on your terms.
  • Work on your own self esteem issues. You can do this either with therapy, reading books dealing with self esteem, doing activities related to increasing your self esteem, etc. A great book is Adult Children of Abusive Parents by Stephen Farmer. It's about 12 dollars on
  • Talk with trusted friends and others who you can rely on to provide you with support. They may be able to give you some of the insight you need right now. If there is no one you can trust, perhaps a support group for adult abuse survivors or a different therapist could provide the support that you need.

Most of all don't blame yourself for your sister's issues. Put yourself first for a while. It may feel like you are going against your nature, but taking time to evaluate your situation and protecting yourself from further abuse is a critical step to success.

The above steps also apply to your situation with men and relationships overall. I think you will find that getting some perspective will go a long way towards solving this problem.

Hang in there and remember be good to yourself.

Steven Olsen and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for your answer. A friend did say to me that she worried about the look in her eyes especially when she is around me. she is 54 now- I see very little insight- she seems to be getting worse- she fights with people at work particularly if it is a woman boss and gets jealous i think if the woman boss has children and a husband. i suffer from anxiety a lot. She is mercenary= I need to find someone, even just to keep her at bay.

Optional Information:
Gender: Female
Age: 51

Already Tried:
Counselling with Accord, Catholic agency in my parish. I think she has psychotic tendencies and the constantly startled look in her eyes was noticed by my former fiance.

Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 7 years ago.
Personality Disorders tend to be incredibly tenacious. They are long term and often very difficult to treat. Most people who have them rarely seek treatment on their own. However, they usually do not involve psychotic symptoms. Those symptoms are probably something different. In any case, it is probably a good idea to see her on your terms and do everything necessary to take care of you...
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