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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5808
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My sister is 49 and is constantly seeking attention both negative

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My sister is 49 and is constantly seeking attention both negative and positive, she has been this way her whole life. She needs constant affirmation, wants people to love her and envy her at the same time. She is a chronic liar in order to get attention and often when she hears about someone a friend or family member that has a problem or crises, amazingly she will have the same problem or crisis. She loves attention from strangers and acts ridiculous, loud, and foolish to get attention. She gets very angry when someone else is the center of attention. She acts like a teenager and wants everyone to be jealous of her. She lies about her health problems all the time and sabatoges her health for pitty and attention. I think she has several personality disorders, depression, and perhaps some bipolar tendancies. She will not see a psychologist or any other mental health provider but it is ruining her life as well as those around her. Please help. thank you.
Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

It sounds like your sister may have a personality disorder, possibly Borderline disorder. It is very hard to deal with someone with a personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder is a particularly difficult personality disorder because of it's symptoms and the behavior of the person. Personality disorders are a category of disorders that are difficult to treat with therapy, even if the person wants help. Everything about a person with Borderline is centered around their needs and feelings. However, if she also has depression or Bipolar, those disorders are easier to treat with therapy and medication.

There are two ways you can address your sister. One, you can lower your expectations. If she is being difficult, you can walk away. Keep in mind that reacting to what your sister is saying or doing only makes her want to do it more because she wants a reaction out of you and those around her. Leaving when she is trying to get attention can help her see that she won't get "rewarded" when she acts that way.

Also, try to keep your emotions out of your dealings with her. People with personality disorders often provoke emotional reacts in others because their behavior is so difficult to cope with. Training yourself to not react and to remain neutral can help. Develop a few non emotional responses you can provide to just about anything she says to you, especially when she tries to provoke you. "I'm sorry you feel that way" is a good response to just about any comment. It leaves your feelings out of it, negates a reaction and keeps her from feeling offended.

Getting someone to get treatment when they refuse is always difficult, especially when dealing with an adult that you have no control over. You want them to see the importance of taking care of themselves but for some reason, they refuse. It can be upsetting when you care about the person and they will not listen.

It may help to ask your sister what she might be willing to do instead. If you can, talk to her again and let her know you are upset because you are concerned about her. Ask her how you can help.

Also, try asking her if she is willing to see her doctor. Sometimes a person who won't see a therapist will see a doctor. If she is willing to go, contact her doctor ahead of time and let him/her know what you are seeing with your sister. The doctor may not be able to talk with you because of confidentiality, but you can still talk with them.

Here are some other resources to help you with ideas on how to help your sister:

I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help: How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment-Xavier Amador.

The Essential Family Guide to Borderline Personality Disorder: New Tools and Techniques to Stop Walking on Eggshells by Randi Kreger

I Hate You--Don't Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus

I hope this helps you,
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