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Question
Posted by: Red | 2011-02-23

Wife loses control

My wife was diagnosed with an impulse control disorder by a psychologist who was counselling us for marriage problems a 2 years ago. I tried to get her help, but she ran away with our baby, aided by her family. She returned, and things are OK generally, but her behaviour remains extremely erratic. A week ago, she was driving our car, and went beserk on the highway after a minor disagreement, and started hooting, saying she would kill me, weaving in and out of traffic, and speeding (our child was in the back seat, fortunately asleep). When she calmed down later, she finally admitted that she had a problem, and even that her maternal grandmother also had a tendency to lose control. Her father used to be a compulsive gambler, so this sort of thing seems to run in her family.

However, she has again backtracked on her promise to seek help. I know that the psychologist is bound by ethical considerations, so he won''t be able to do much to help compel her to get treatment, but I am terrified that she will hurt me or worse, our child if she loses control again. Her family are a strong influence in her life and will accuse me of " interfering with her mind"  if she goes for treatment. Can I force her to get help? I cannot risk a divorce with her getting our son and exposing him to danger.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

At first reading, I thought it was the psychologist who ran away with your baby, which was even more alarming than the unpleasant real story. Impulse Control Disorder is a cobntroversial diagnosis, and notoriously difficult to treat, even when the person is very keen to cooperate and get treatment.
She needs to be seen again, by a very experienced senior psychiatrist, maybe at a medical school, for a re-assessment and a consideration of treatment options. Its clear that her impulsive behaviour is a serious risk to the lives and safety of herself and others, including the child.
There is absolutely NO ethical limitation on a proper specialist shrink arranging for the compulsory admission and treatment of someone who is considered to be a risk to her own life or that of others. But in the law it is psychiatrists ( as wualified doctors ) who have this power and are used to using it. Indeed, it is ethically improper NOT to do all possible to ensure the safety and treatment of someone who is a danger to ehrself and others.
With any competent psych evidence of how she has behaved, including your own evidence, it is impossible to believe that any even partly intelligent court would grant her custody of the child in the event of a divorce, indeed it is highly doubtful if she would be granted even supervised visits, based on how you describe her behaviour.
In terms of compulsory admission and treatment, the close family, starting with you the spouse, have the right to ask for such admission, and with the assistance of a GP or psychiatrist, it can be arranged in an emergency.

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2
Our users say:
Posted by: Red | 2011-02-23

I should add that we haven''t seen the psychologist since she came back 2 years ago, as that was one of the conditions she made before returning.

Reply to Red
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-02-23

At first reading, I thought it was the psychologist who ran away with your baby, which was even more alarming than the unpleasant real story. Impulse Control Disorder is a cobntroversial diagnosis, and notoriously difficult to treat, even when the person is very keen to cooperate and get treatment.
She needs to be seen again, by a very experienced senior psychiatrist, maybe at a medical school, for a re-assessment and a consideration of treatment options. Its clear that her impulsive behaviour is a serious risk to the lives and safety of herself and others, including the child.
There is absolutely NO ethical limitation on a proper specialist shrink arranging for the compulsory admission and treatment of someone who is considered to be a risk to her own life or that of others. But in the law it is psychiatrists ( as wualified doctors ) who have this power and are used to using it. Indeed, it is ethically improper NOT to do all possible to ensure the safety and treatment of someone who is a danger to ehrself and others.
With any competent psych evidence of how she has behaved, including your own evidence, it is impossible to believe that any even partly intelligent court would grant her custody of the child in the event of a divorce, indeed it is highly doubtful if she would be granted even supervised visits, based on how you describe her behaviour.
In terms of compulsory admission and treatment, the close family, starting with you the spouse, have the right to ask for such admission, and with the assistance of a GP or psychiatrist, it can be arranged in an emergency.

Reply to cybershrink

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