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Dr. Z
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'm a former high school English teacher and I specialize in

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I'm a former high school English teacher and I specialize in student publications, like yearbooks and school newspapers. I was very good at what I did and my students won several national awards under my teaching I'm quite proud to say. I have always hoped one day after my children are older to continue to work in the yearbook world, but on the publisher's side, where the money and opportunities are more plentiful.
My sister was having (a lot) of trouble fitting in at her children's elementary school. She had developed a reputation at the school as pushy and difficult to work with, and while she is both those things, but she is also a wonderful person who is just very tenacious and driven when trying to get things done. In an attempt to make a positive impact and rehab her image, she volunteered to help out on the yearbook, which are done by parents on the elementary school level. She begged me for help that first year, and I was happy to lend a hand. In the end, after a lot of hounding, I did so much more than help, completing most of the book myself, especially the design and aesthetic portions of the book. It quickly became clear to me when the book came out that she was taking credit for the work I did. It bothered me at first, but the book was getting tons of praise and she really needed a win in that community. Plus, it was work I enjoyed and I liked helping my sister out, so I let it go. I 'helped' her in this way for two more years, but finally let her know I was done 'helping,' and would, in fact, be working on my own child's book as she was now in school. She said she was done doing yearbook anyway, as her oldest was going off to middle school.
When the school year started, I found out not only was she continuing to volunteer for the elementary school yearbook, but she had gone over to her son's middle school, shown them the (beautiful) books I designed and offered to help the middle school yearbook teacher and student staff fix up their book. She even I found this out when she called to ask for my help with both the books. She even asked me for teaching materials so she could teach the yearbook class. I immediately became very uncomfortable. Somehow it was ok for her to pass my work off as hers at her small elementary school, but now she was using my work to sell herself to a much larger audience, one that included yearbook professionals and publishers, the very people I hope will one day hire me.
I immediately sat down with her and told her how I felt, explained that on this new, larger stage, I really needed credit for the work I had done and I felt very, very weird about the whole situation, especially her teaching yearbook, which was my profession, and which felt like she was setting herself up as an expert in my field. I reminded her I one day wanted a job in this field, and that work should get proper attribution. She seemed to get it, but then she immediately asked me for help designing the elementary school book that very day. I gave her a tip or two and left.
Well, she was just offered a job with the yearbook publishers, based on her beautiful books, how easy she was as a client (she ran any problems or questions by me and so appeared to know it all), and how generous and professional she appeared in offering to help out the middle school yearbook.
I'm devastated. I realize I put myself in this situation, but I never dreamed it would come to this--and perhaps she didn't either, but goodness! I feel used, betrayed, jealous, and every negative emotion you can name. That she got a job offer hurts, but I honestly believe she didn't seek it out. The real betrayal for me happened the minute she set herself up as an expert in the yearbook world, based largely on my work and help. Also part of me looks back and says, why did she choose yearbook in the first place? She has a resume that includes positions with major television networks. But yearbook is my only claim to fame. I go between feeling small and jealous and selfish to feeling justified in my anger and hurt.
How do I feel about this? Am I being irrational? And how do I deal with my sister going forward? I'm so hurt.
Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry that your sister did this to you, and I can understand your feelings of betrayal with this.

Dr. Z :

I would like to ask a couple questions to get some more information, so that I can better help you

Dr. Z :

Has your sister ever taken credit for work in this manner before?

Dr. Z :

Has she ever taken advantage of others before?

Dr. Z :

And also does she expect praise for her work and does she think she is better than others at all?

Customer:

I don't think she has taken credit for others work before, but she does seem to have a lot of tension with the people she works with. It's sort of a recurring thing. I chalk it up to how tenacious she is. She will hound you and hound you until you do what she wants. It drives me crazy.

Dr. Z :

When you say do what she wants, does that mean you have to do it her way only?

Customer:

Oh yes!One other thing: She thrives off of praise and what others think, yet she still manages to tick people off regularly. She has this joke about about being the 1%. This comes from way before Occupy Wall Street--in fact, it comes from the Iowa tests from elementary school and how we always scored in the 99% percentile. She always is disappointed in how mediocre people are and holds up her own efforts in comparison and jokingly says, "1%."

Customer:

She will not relent until you do what she wants the way she wants.

Dr. Z :

Okay, well it is possible that she may have traits from a personality disorder called Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). She may not have the entire disorder, but it appears that some traits are present. Here is a link explaining it in more detail for you

Dr. Z :

Now I definitely do not think you acted irrationally at all and the fair thing would be to get credit for the work you did, but she may not have saw that or she may have had a lack of empathy to your concerns, all are possible when someone may have a diagnosis of NPD.

Dr. Z :

In addition, how to deal with your sister going forward will be difficult. I do not think you should help her with future yearbook or any of her projects unless she puts in writing your contribution (contract) beforehand. You have to treat this like a business arrangement, even though you both are family.

Dr. Z :

Also when you get mad or frustrated with her in the future, it is best to express that. Anger is a natural emotion and needs to be expressed in a healthy and assertive manner. This worksheet can help you with that moving forward with her.

Dr. Z :

Also these books are very insightful on NPD and can help you with your interactions with her in the future.

Customer:

I really feel I was assertive with her once I felt she crossed the line, but the damage had been done. I can't sleep and I'm worried about seeing her when my whole family gathers this weekend as we'll be surrounded by kids and I don't want to say something in front of them, but am too upset to hold my tongue at this point.

Dr. Z :

I understand and that is a perfectly normal reaction that you are having because of what she did, but I think it would be best not to make a scene. But instead if you want to talk to her, you can call her over to a secluded part and have a discussion about it with her if you want to get something off your chest. Still it may not help you in this situation and I think that looking forward is the best strategy and planning ahead so that she does not do this again to you

Customer:

I agree. My family is so important to me. And I certainly can muster up self control when needed. Thanks for your insight. I'll do some reading up on NPD and just watch myself around her a bit more.

Dr. Z :

I think that would be best, ***** ***** not want to this to happen to you again. I am happy that I was able to help you tonight. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.

Customer:

Thanks

Dr. Z :

You are most welcome :)

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