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Ask TherapistMarryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5821
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I am a massage therapist and while giving a massage to a

Customer Question

I am a massage therapist and while giving a massage to a young woman, 20, she began talking about her military training and how she was a sniper, and where to shoot people if they were a terrorist. She had extensive knowledge about guns. She said she was involved in 9-11 which obviously made more whistles go off (putting her at age 10 when that happened). She has a speech impediment, and from what I know, she had learning difficulties throughout school. I personally know her mother, but b/c she is a young adult and b/c of patient confidentiality, I do not know the best course of action. Any advice?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

Since you know this woman, is it plausible that she is in the military? She may have just gotten carried away with her story and wanted to impress you by adding the 9/11 information.

However, if she is not in the military, there are three possibilities for why she was telling you this.

One, she is very insecure and wanted to make you feel she was someone important. Some people feel so bad about themselves that they learn to make up stories to impress others so they don't have to feel bad about the truth.

Two, this woman is a compulsive liar. She may have a personality flaw that causes her to lie about most everything. This usually needs addressed by a professional, if the person is willing to get help for it.

Third, she may have a mental health disorder that includes symptoms of delusions. Schizophrenia is in this category, though it is impossible for anyone to tell if this woman has such a disorder without a full mental health evaluation by a mental health therapist or psychiatrist.

Given that she told you this in confidence and she was a client of yours, you most likely should keep it to yourself. This woman is an adult so she is old enough to deal with the consequences of her behavior. And if she does have a disorder, her family is most likely aware of it.

The only time you should be concerned is when someone tells you they intend to hurt themselves or someone else. If you ever hear someone say that, contact the family and police to get advice on how to handle it.

I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

She was not in the military, and is unaware that I know her family. My first worry was schizophrenia. It is more difficult b/c I know the mother (patient does not know that) and want to help her receive a diagnosis.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Thanks for the additional information.

It is understandable that you want to help her. If you feel very strongly about telling her mother about the incident, then do so. Just weigh all the consequences to be sure you are not going to hurt the woman, her mother or your business.

Do you know her mother well enough that you feel she would not be offended by what you say? If she is a well known friend, you may be ok expressing your concern. I would approach her in a very general way, however. Mention the woman and ask how she is, etc. If you come out directly and tell the mother that you suspect her daughter has schizophrenia, she may become very upset. Also, if her daughter has another disorder, it might be uncomfortable for the mother to have to explain it to you. Some people are ashamed that a family member has a mental illness and therefore they try to hide it. Others are ok with it and don't mind sharing the information. It depends on which way you feel the mother feels before you share with her what you heard.

Most likely, the mother is very aware of her daughter's problem. It is highly unlikely that the woman can act normally around others without those who know her well noticing. You noticed it and you were with her only a short period of time. But if you feel concerned, then let the mother know.


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for your help as this is a very delicate situation. My personal feelings and my professional obligations are very "muddled" in my mind. I appreciate your help.

Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

You are welcome! I understand how you feel. Therapist have a similar professional code of conduct and it can get tough to deal with!

Take care,