Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Need closure

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QUESTION: Did I overreact with what I said.

Today my mom (age 87) decided to switch the coats in the coat closet, putting the spring/summer coats on the side of the closet easier to get to for the coats and put the winter coats on the other side of the closet.

About an hour ago she asked me about four pairs of gloves that were on one of the shelves of the coat closet. She said "There are two gloves that dont have mates" I said to her "The rest of my gloves pairs and all are in the suitcase in your closet". She then said "Oh, so then I can put them up in the closet, or should I throw them out". This got me mad and I said to her she has no right to say "or should I throw them out, they are my possessions".

You see right away I kept thinking would she say that to me about my clothes if she had access to them.

Would you think she was including clothes or did I overreact. Keep in mind she does not or ever will have access to my clothes.


This was in the coat closet we both share. However, these gloves were not in my coat pocket they were on the shelf in the coat closet.

But what goes thru my mind is "what if" type of question. What if my clothes were in the closet we both have access to then what. My clothes are in tip top condition and I love all of them and I would be very upset if she asked me what she asked me about the gloves.

ANSWER: Hi, Debbie, thanks for your question. I find it interesting when people ask such questions, because they do not seem, to me, to be related to psychology, mental health, or any such related subject.

Instead, they occur to me as opinion questions - as in 'do you like ice cream', or 'do you approve of so&so's actions', or 'do you think that rock and roll is evil'?

Everyone has opinions, of course. Many of us think that our opinions are so much better than others, and some people even think that there are a few people whose opinions 'should' count more (well, at least if they agree with our opinion).

My opinion of such things is I that I think they are pretty much meaningless, little more than barking dogs or crying babies.

So.... you were upset by this, and likely you had some negative opinion about it.... and you are wondering if this level of upset was warranted by the level of infraction demonstrated by the 'accused' (your mother, a little old lady of 87).

So that must make you in your 60's? When I started writing this, I imagined that you were a teenager, or perhaps early 20's. Young kids have not learned such lessons; I'm surprised that a person of your age would still be wondering about this.

My advice - learn to be more forgiving. Your mother could die tonite. Do you really want this kind of thing to be the last interaction you had with her? Besides, the elderly are often 'not all there' - whether they have dementia or not. Just like kids, we owe them a wider berth - more consideration- than younger people. Let it go, girl, talk about other, more important subjects ....

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Can you explain this further thanks: ", the elderly are often 'not all there' - whether they have dementia or not.:

KEEP in mind: my mom has all her faculties, she works per diem, reads everything.

ANSWER: Hi, Debbie, I dont know your mom, and have no idea about her cognitive abilities. However, I do know that law people often cannot detect when an elderly person begins to decline cognitively.  I evaluated one such person recently, who was quite articulate. So much so, his attorney did not believe that he was disabled. However, it was quite clear during psych testing.

One common ability that is often 'first to go' is impulse control. When the elderly person has this problem, they start saying whatever comes to mind - often inappropriate or hurtful things.

So, give your mom a break. Even if she is 'all there', it's still possible to regret your actions later, when she is no longer around. And, I'm thinking of you when I say this - you will have to be the one that lives with yourself later. Old people die, often unexpectedly. If you are mean, or spiteful, or less than generous with her, you will be like most of us, and regret it. And then you will have 20+ years to live with that.

No, try to create your last memories of your mom as something good. You know, some people say that the true expression of love is to let the other person hurt you, even if it is on purpose, and to not retaliate. Create yourself as being generous to your mom, even if she acts like a child.

You wont regret it


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: When she says things like this I say to her: "You have to watch what you say" and she retorts: "No I can say whatever I want".  BUT if I tell her I told so and so something she retorts back to me "You talk to much".

So and so could mean friends, business acquaintances, neighbors and it doesnt matter what the topic is.

Answer
Petient comes into doctors office, hitting himself in the head, and says, "doc, it hurts when I do this". Doc says, "stop doing that".


Muy advice is the same. Stop saying things like  "You have to watch what you say" and teller her I tell her I told so and so something

If you are doing something that isnt getting good results "stop doing that"

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

Expertise

any related to psychology, especially related to forensic psychology

Experience

15 years as a licensed psychologist, 15 years in private practice. My practice began primarily doing individual and group psychotherapy, is now devoted to assessments, but I occasionally do take on clients in therapy.

Organizations
American Psychological Association

Education/Credentials
B.A. psychology, B.A., music, Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978 MCS, computer science, University of Dayton, 1984 MA, psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1991 Psy.D., psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1993 post doctoral training in Neuropsychology, Fielding Institute, 1995-1997

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