« Why a Therapist is Against the Death Penalty | Main | Children, Psychotropic Medications and Death »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

It's so heartbreaking this happens so often. Ever heard of normal reaction to abnormal situation? I think that's the norm of "mental illness", not the exception. (Although I think there are cases where we are unable to determine the cause which doesn't mean there ISN'T a cause, just that we can't see it, and more rarely a genuine spontaneous brain abnormality.)

In most cases the thing to target isn't the person, they are not ill. The thing to target is the chaos, trauma, or issues causing the emotions.

My cousin was put on meds when she was 5. The diagnoses was anxiety and it's gone up and up to depression, bipolar whatever else. I wonder how the meds affected the progression of the mental illness personally (i.e. I wonder if they aren't the cause of the "biopolar" symptoms.)

When a five year old has anxiety there are nearly infinite options. Yes if NONE of those options seem to help I understand people resorting to meds (even though I'm still iffy on whether they will cause more harm than good ina developing child)

The mother wants the labels, so she isn't 'responsible' for the life she has served to the kids. This is not a situation a child should be in. (I was once one of those children figuratively). The children need to be placed in a safer environment, this is dangerous mentally and physically how is it allowed to continue? I see a lot of professionals not doing their job in ensuring the well being of the kids.

Although I am now diagnosed with Bi-polar there is no way in heck that a 3 year old could be... they can't talk about their experiance... mood and behaviour fluctuations in a normal stressed child often are the same as my bi-polar swings.


You make an excellent point. That is often the situation when parents bring the child in as the "identified patient". It's often not the child who needs fixing, but the parent. In a case like this, the authorities are notified, but are failing to respond.

You almost make a very good point about Bipolar Disorder. Children can't tell us what they are experiencing.

Thank you for sharing.

As other people have commented,a person with mental health issues like this mother is more than happy with the labels her children have been given, because it removes the responsibility for having a proper environment for the kids from herself.

It's getting to be where mental health is almost the new "welfare," in that people think that mental illness causes them to make poor choices and thus they have no responsibility for themselves and others; this usually results in social services being lavished upon them and their family, which takes it away from people who really could use those services.

That and the presence of all the mental health providers who are chasing after the Medicaid buck and who will readily diagnose someone with a mental health disorder so that they can tell the state that they are "treating" them, and you've got a pretty unhealthy combination.

You know, Malingering is in the DSM too. Providers just can't be paid for that diagnosis.

Even if the mother uses a label, she is still responsible for how she treats the child. If she herself has a mental illness or personality disorder, she may not understand the proper way to parent. See, when a person has a mental illness, they must devote a large part of their life to their own self care. Now this IS NOT to say that folks with mental illnesses can't have kids, but it just means that they need to be careful when they do.

When you have a mental illness, oftentimes, your feelings obscure, or block your ability to perform appropriate actions for your child. As well, loud noises, odd behaviors and other stimulous that you may not be ready for can trigger you if you aren't careful.

It is very important that a person with mental illness set an appropriate schedule at home for they and their child both. It is important to have supportive friends and relatives to assist in caring for and parenting the child. Issues such as corporal punishment versus putting the child in the corner, what to do if the child has a tantrum and etcetera are very important issues. Discipline needs to be consistent. The child needs to know that they are loved. It is the natural action of the child to push limits. By pushing limits and the parent showing the boundary, this is how the child learns and shapes the outward parts of his or her identity AND also this is how the child gets a proper backbone, i.e., to come and learn what is appropriate and not appropriate for him or her.

NOW-EVEN IF-a person with mental issues KNOWS this--IT IS STILL VERY DIFFICULT to know what to do when a child has a meltdown. But, you are correct-a person with issues should not so easily label. Sometimes, folks of this nature label because
1-they feel that they know diagnoses well and can diagnose themselves
2-they seriously care for their child and know no other way of caring for their child other than to say "Look, something is wrong-help me."
3-They may be afraid that genetics have repeated the same thing and they want to forget it.

You would be correct in saying that sometimes, folks with mental issues don't want to take responsibility. This is because sometimes they are so traumatized and afraid of life that they don't want any more grief. At times, they want things to go smoothly-They may be tired; they may be frightened from previous experiences.

Whereas some sensitivity and assistance must be given to these individuals to empower them, by the same token, they must be helped to overcome fear and trauma and assume responsibility. At times, if there is a controlling spouse, their responsibilities may be shirked because they are not allowed to execute said responsibilities. I am not sure what one does in such circumstances; I suppose legal action might need to be taken against the controlling spouse.

In any case, under desperate situations such as homelessness,I would think that giving the children to the nearest responsible and willing relative with visitation rights added is the best course of action. I personally detest foster care, but I know that at times, it is a necessary evil.

I am a huge believer in supportive services and in keeping children and parents together. If there is any redemptive part of the person, if the person can get a caseworker assigned, have a good counselor and get a good psychiatrist WHO LISTENS then there is a chance for said person. If, however, the person is totally derelict and will not change then I am sorry-the children will have to go to a better house.

I am not judging this woman one way or the other-I am not. I know that issues of this nature are very difficult. What this hinges on are the following:
1-Is the woman willing to change herself?
2-Can it first be determined that the children MAY BE REACTING to the woman's dysfunctional behaviors?
3-Are there supportive services and housing and job opportunities, daycare vouchers etcetera that can be coordinated for said case?

IF the children stay with the mother THEY WILL NEED some type of talk therapy REGARDLESS. Even if the mother is well meaning, at times, the children may be affected by un-intentional emotional abuses or dysfunctional behaviors. This goes with the territory.

I am very, very lucky. I have a college education and a supportive family and supportive friends-for-you see-that woman could easily be--me!! :(

These are my thoughts. CH

Hi Cate,

Thank you for a very thoughtful response. You make several good points, but I especially loved what you said about parents getting children diagnosed,

'2-they seriously care for their child and know no other way of caring for their child other than to say "Look, something is wrong-help me."'

I think this is very, very true and we sometimes tend to forget it. Most parents seeking treatment for their child do feel helpless or out of control and are seeking assistance. Bringing the child to a clinician is a cry for help, either for the child or for themselves.

Thank you for the reminder.

I am not a mental health professional, I have just raised healthy children and done foster care and always had an interest in children and mental health. My own take on it is this: all babies are born "bi-polar." Their emotions are extreme! They don't just 'sort of' cry- they sob as though their lives were ending. They don't get 'a little' angry- they RAGE. Watch them laugh- they laugh themselves sick! Watch a baby's emotions and imagine the same expression of emotions coming from an adult- it would be scary. It is the parents' job to teach children how to moderate and integrate their emotions and they do this by doing it for them at first and slowly the child internalizes this and begins doing it themselves. Every normal mother soothes a crying child, protects a frightened child, helps an overly stimulated child to calm down. I think that today we have many mothers who have lost the basic skills of motherhood or who simply do not spend the time with their children- they are in daycare and may be cared for by people who have no investment in their development and who don't bother. We are going to reap the results of this later.


It is so interesting that you mention this right now. I was thinking back on a child I watched grow up. He has now, at age 7, been diagnosed "ADHD" and he totally displays all the symptoms. But I was remembering how we was as a baby and realizing that his mother did nothing to teach him to calm himself, quiet himself or entertain himself. He was never, at any point, taught to sit quietly and amuse himself.

And now, here is your post! The ability to temper one's emotions is called "self regulation" by therapists and I really think you are on to something. I don't think parents are teaching children this any more and I'm not sure why.

I think one reason is the economy. We are not living in the same world as previous generations. One parent cannot go to work and support a family while the other stays at home to raise children. In most families both parents have to work. As a result, most parents are very overworked and overly tired. I think your comment about daycares is appropriate.

I think technology is another factor. Where previous generations of parents would sit and read to their children, or children would go outside and play games with other neighborhood children, they now sit and play video games. I think that video games play into inability to self regulate, especially when they are used as a babysitter. This same child I referred to above was always - and I mean always - placed in front of a DVD or video game to keep him quiet. As a result, his reading and social skills are atrocious. Though I have always hated the "video game" defense when people commit violent crimes, I think it has some place in the inability of our children to tolerate boredom and manage classroom-like situations.

It will be interesting to see what other people have to say. Thank you so much for your very lucid feedback.

I can't thank you enough for posting this. I was blessed enough to have a wonderful therapist who was wise enough to realize precisely what you posted. My mom brought me to therapy because she wanted to "fix" me... my grades, my behavior, and so on.

At the beginning of my time in therapy, I know my therapist wondered about AD/HD, though we never made a formal diagnosis of that sort.

After a few years, I confided in her about the physical abuse that happened at the hands of my parents. Eventually, we connected a lot of my school struggles to the kind of situation I was coming home to every day. My grades--and self esteem--improved dramatically.

I am so thankful for having a therapist that looked past the labels that others would have likely stuck on me to see what was really wrong, even though it took years.

Hi Andrea,

I'm so thankful for your therapist too. Good for her! And good for you for going to her. It may have taken years, but I hate to think where you would have been if you hadn't stuck it out and done all that hard work. It could not have been easy.

I'm pleased that she "fixed" you by realizing that you weren't broken to start with. It wasn't your biology, it was your home life.

Kudos to you and your therapist and may life have better things in store for you.

The comments to this entry are closed.