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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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A friend of mine is a Dr. of Psychology. She recently entered

Customer Question

A friend of mine is a Dr. of Psychology. She recently entered into a relationship with someone who has severe abandonment and controlling issues. Does anyone need to say anything to her, or will she find this out on her own? Is it possible that she thinks she can "cure" her partner? I find it mind boggling that those who treat victims of such relationships can enter into such relationships themselves. I don't want to step in. Can a Dr. of Psychology see the signs when they are the ones in love?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

Frankly, I have never found that being a psychologist provided one with significantly greater insight into their OWN relationships except when the relationship involved some pretty significant psychopathology with their partner. I'm not aware that psychologists or psychiatrists for example, have any lower rates of divorce than anyone else (i.e., one would assume that they ought to be better at picking out a healthy and highly compatible partner). The problem you describe I would subjectively guess, might more likely occur with a fairly recent graduate with few years of experience, rather than someone with say 10 years or more of experience; but again, this is a subjective assessment of the situation, based on the fact that I tend to seen younger clinicians not seeing what they should see, due to lack of experience.

In summary, i suspect that love is blind, as the saying goes, for psychologists and non psychologists alike; if you are a really close friend to this psychologist and have been invited to provide feedback about this other person, feel free to share your opinion, if you'd like. We all tend to see what we want to see or expect to see in others; I've noted this to be true in my subjective experience, across dozens and dozens of psychologists I've known and worked with and trained. Also, I would not offer your words of caution, unless you felt this partner presented a real danger to your friend e.g., you knew of significant, violent behavior or abuse history.

I hope this answer is helpful to you. Let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your question.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you for your response. She has almost 12 years of experience in the field, but I have not been asked to share my opinion. I see the signs in her new partner because I was also involved in a relationship with a "controller" and it did such great damage to my self-esteem. It started off almost "too good to be true", but ended horribly. Does 12 years experience give her any chance of seeing the potential danger sooner rather than later?
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
Possibly. On the one hand, your friend should be able to see the behavior for what it is. On the other hand, if she is has been swept off her feet and currently believes this person is the best thing that has happened to her, then she probably will NOT tend to see their character flaws. For example, as you well know from your experience, the initial controlling behaviors of someone we really like actually appear to be charming and very flattering as we want to read into them the idea that the person is very concerned, invested, looks out for us, etc. We see their dependency and initially think, what nice relationship to know you can count on this person to be there; they are so trustworthy and clearly need me; it is so nice to be needed. But, in fact, they are simply NEEDY, CONTROLLING people!. Obviously, you can see it. But, my hypothesis would be that the more head-over-heels she is about this person, the longer it will take for her to figure it out; and unfortunately, it may be too late, as the damage will be done.

Let me know what you think.......
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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Unfortunately, I think you are right. It's sad to see someone so "educated" go down that same road. What irony! Thanks for your answers.

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 6 years ago.
I suspect she'll need a friend such as yourself once she finds out. My best wishes to you!