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Penny Rayas, MFT
Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  I have 20 years experience in the mental health field
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After researching many mental illness', I'm convinced that

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After researching many mental illness', I'm convinced that (Possibly amongst other things) that my wife suffers from paranoid personality disorder. It is a fact that she was diagnosed with dysthymia while in med school (which she never shared with me, I found out by accident a couple months ago) and she now believes that was only temporary and due to med school stress (she never continued treatment beyond the month she was diagnosed). If you read through my thread here, you will see that my wife and I are going through an 'in house' separation while waiting out the legal divorce process. My wife now sleeps in the childrens room for about 8 months now. Our oldest of the 2 daughters is nearly 3 years old and often wants 'to sleep in daddys bed'. My wife hates this. She will allow this  only to avoid the confrontation that my daughter will put up if she tries to resisit, but my wife will wait until my daughter falls asleep with me, and then come into my room to take my daughter back to bed with her. I've asked my wife about this and she replied that she thinks its age inappropriate for a daughter to sleep with her father. Mind you, this is not a situation where I say "its time for bed" and then tuck my daughter into my is more at the daughters request to sleep in daddys bed from time to time (as her bed is now officially "mommy and daughter bed)'. When I mentioned that her own parents claimed she slept with them until she was 7, her response was 'that was different because it was with both parents'.

So, keep in mind, my wife claims her mother is undiagnosed bi-polar, both parents are very devoted lds mormons and tried to insist on such lifestyles growing up (note they are african american, which is rare in the lds and had place additional childhood pressures according to her brothers). Her only sister had her first child at 17 and 3 more by the time she was 27 all with the same man who she is not married to and they live together in her mother-inlaws section 8 home across the street from the mother-inlaw. And both of my wifes younger brothers have been incarcerated and spent time in mental health facilities due to diagnosed mental disorders including schizophrenia. One brother is gay (he may argue he is bi) and has been diagnosed with hiv.

So, my question is what 'really' is the underlying concern of my wifes when it comes to my daughters sleeping request? Does my wife truly have a moral concern or could this be deeper, and if so how can I go deeper? With all things considered, I'm now starting to wonder if sexual abuse existed in her childhood. Her family is very secretive (but so is the lds way of life in some manners). And, on many occasions, my wife has made bizarre comments like "I think someone (at the nursery) may have broke her hyman", and "she has a bad rash that looks like someone stuck their finger in here anus", and has commented on the manner that my daughter may have sat on my lap or givin me a hug (ie she's only 3 feet tall and a hug might put her face near my private area. My concern is I would never be able to prove she is mentally incapable of raising our daughter and sincerely ***** ***** believe she'd be the worse mother in the world. But, I do have reason to believe that her issues could impose on our daughter in a negative way if we cannot address moms issues.

DoctorZ :


Hello Sean ,
From what I read in your question, I don't think I would jump to paranoid personality disorder just yet. Paranoid Personality Disorder is usually more long term and the paranoia is typically more pervasive throughout their daily life. Here is a good link that describes the criteria for paranoid personality disorder.
Now it does sound like she has trust or abandonment issues and sexual abuse fears for her daughter. This can be related to a past sexual abuse that she went through or it can be related to the fear/guilt of getting a divorce, as a divorce may not be looked upon favorably from the LDS community.
In regarding past sexual abuse, the only way to successfully approach it would be in a therapeutic setting. Memories of past sexual abuse can be triggered by events such as a child sleeping in the same bed as her father, while innocuous to most families, it may have triggered an event of sexual abuse to her. The only way to know for sure is for her to share this in a therapy session.
Also a divorce is a tough thing for all parties and it is possible that her not wanting your oldest daughter to sleep with you is because she fears that your daughter will choose you over her and that she will be left abandoned. She may not want to admit that she has a fear of abandonment because she already feels that you are abandoning her with a divorce and that she does not want to appear further vulnerable to you.
One recommendation I would make is to see a therapist together to have a seamless transition in the divorce for the children's well being (this is how it can be phrased to your wife). And in doing so you can bring up your concerns in a safe setting and so can she. Then the therapist can moderate and interpret for both of you in order to help both of you understand, and this can lead to possibly ceasing the problematic behaviors from your wife.
It is extremely possible that your wife may have a mental illness given her history and her family's history of mental illness, but it is impossible to make an accurate diagnosis with out asking her the appropriate questions and hearing it from her (there are just so many possibilities from what you have told me), so hopefully therapy can be a viable option for you and your wife to help shed some light on her innermost thoughts and feelings.
Hopefully I gave you some guidance on what steps to take next, and this is a complicated situation, so it may take some time for a resolution. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to ask anytime. Hopefully I provided you with excellent service today.
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10643
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I can understand your concern about your wifes behavior and your fear that she acts this way when your daughter expresses affection. Her behavior indicates that yes she may have been sexually abused as a child.

It would be hard to convince her that you daughter in not in danger from preditors. I agree with Doc that going to therapy for yourself can help you deal with the divorce and your wives behavior.

I think your wife may not have paranoid personality disorder. If she was sexual abused in childhood she may see the world from her experience and think this way. She is hyper sensitive and fears that sexual abuse can happen to her daughters also.

Maybe it time to not focus on her but on how you can help your children. If they come up with ideas like that you can tell them that you do not believe that. You do not want them to think that the world is a terrible place. Don't say anything negative about their mother. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

If you want to talk to me, in addition to requesting me put this is for Penny in the question.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This is for Penny...

Penny said: I agree with Doc that going to therapy for yourself can help you deal with the divorce and your wives behavior. My response: I agree and I'm going to look into counseling this week.

Penny said: I think your wife may not have paranoid personality disorder. My response: I mention this because there is significant evidence to this that I have not put into this thread. I have been studying mental illness/personality disorders substantially for months now, and was shocked when I learned of PPD and how 'exact' the symptoms are to my wife. For example (just to take the top symptoms from WebMD):

  • Doubt the commitment, loyalty, or trustworthiness of others, believing others are using or deceiving them. My wife has no friends at all. Whenever she meets anyone in social or work situations, she immediately believes that are trying to "ruin her good name" (e.g. her boss, me, my mother). She can be quoted often saying "You have to earn my trust", and will often (I believe deliberately) confuse cordialness with friendship with people she has clearly burned bridges with, and then when the first sign of 'lack of loyalty' is exposed, my wife will condemn the person(s) from receiving her good graces further (e.g. my family will not see our daughters anymore). She won't even discuss the divorce with her blood family, citing they take my side, and "he has you all fooled). Recently, she has been getting increasingly involved with her church and apparently confiding with them, so it will be interesting to see how that pans out.

  • Are reluctant to confide in others or reveal personal information due to a fear that the information will be used against them Where do I start? I can probably start with how "normal" her family situation was growing up. Although, the results are far from what I would call normal (from a 'leave it to beaver' viewpoint)..all while hearing many stories about the family's past from the uncles, aunts and cousins (as well as the immediate family and my wife). The Dysthymia diagnosis was explained as "Test Taking Anxiety" at the time, and I was never told by my wife that she was prescribed medication and continued therapy. She also does not share with me the problems that her brothers are having (mentally), particularly now that we are going through a divorce. In fact, her Aunt who is a physician, found out by chance that her nephew (my wife's brother) was admitted to the same hospital she works in for psych evaluation (he had been checked in for 4 days before she found out). I also recently found out by accident that my wife is pre-diabetic, low vitamin D, and high cholesterol, and pre-hypertensive. She never told me this, because she spends most of her time criticizing my health habits and forced me to get a physical which turned up nothing.

  • Are unforgiving and hold grudges My wife never apologizes. But is often quoted as 'what I did/said at the time was justified at the moment, and I don't apologize for that (regardless of how it makes someone feel). Yet, let someone do/say anything to her, even if she cast the first stone and fueled the issue...she will (literally) document it and explain in her writing that the offender must have a problem.

  • Are hypersensitive and take criticism poorly One can never give their opinion with her. If she is comfortable with the person (e.g. me or other immediate members of her family) she will take the slightest criticism as an attack on her. For example, she is highly sensitive to the fact that she didn't obtain her MD until she was 38...and constantly unprovoked defends her educational path and why it makes a more unique candidate for hire than anyone else. And will often accuse others of not being educated or worldly enough to understand. Such as her parents, who do not have college educations and therefore "need to be explained to in a special way" to understand her situations and plans.

  • Read hidden meanings in the innocent remarks or casual looks of others Perfect examples.1) While waiting for a valet after dinner at an expensive restaurant during mothers day, my brother asked a rhetorical question "how much should I tip him". My wife answered "$2" brother jokingly replied "$2 - get a job"...this is while my wife was attending med school. My wife went home furious, claiming "I will one day make way more than your brother!" and she insisted on an apology. 2) During our destination wedding, while navigating the airports, my mother commented to my wife that 'If I were wearing those heals, my feet would be killing me...I don't know how you do it'. Again, this drove my wife nuts and she hounded me about for (what seemed like) weeks insisting that I coach my mother and demanded an apology.

Penny wrote: Maybe it time to not focus on her but on how you can help your children. My Response: I am trying, but currently it is a challenge separating my childrens needs with my wife's issues/actions. Hopefully counseling will help, as well as the eventual separation.

Penny wrote: If they come up with ideas like that you can tell them that you do not believe that. You do not want them to think that the world is a terrible place. My Response: Perhaps I was misunderstood, my daughter never eludes to misconduct at her school or otherwise. This is my wife's doing only (e.g. vaginal area is red, so she asks "Did your teacher stick her finger in your pee-pee?")

Penny wrote: Don't say anything negative about their mother. My Response: I never have said anything negative to the girls. On occasion during a verbal altercation with my wife, I have slipped 'crazy' or 'sick'...and this is not justification, but I have received much worse from my wife in front of the children.

Sorry about all that you are going through. It is very difficult to know what to do, and it seams that you are doing a good job trying to navigate the situation.

I am not sure that you can stop your daugther from doing some damage to your daughter due to her paranoia. You can only put your own possitive spin on things and hope that this will balance the negative out.

I am not sure if you ex is open to attending parenting classes with you, or open to conversation. I don't think you need parenting classess but I wonder if she would change her tune if she hears this from a parenting expert. Some couples also go to couples therapy even when they are going through divorce. This helps to break up in a friendly way and to talk about how to co-parent.

I know she is not a logical person, but I think everyone can change and learn. The paranoid personality disorder develops because of someones experiences and can improve with therapy.

I hope this can help. I think you are doing a great job with a very difficult time of your children's and your life.

Penny Rayas, MFT, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 395
Experience: I have 20 years experience in the mental health field
Penny Rayas, MFT and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you