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Question
Posted by: Haunted | 2005/07/03

Problems problems and more problems...but not mine

Hi CS

I feel stuck and in over my head. I hardly ever see my mother but when I do, she consistently plays victim in her life. She does not see past her own misery. I listen to her constantly moan about the same problems over and over again. I cannot help but to feel sorry for her but I feel so guilty that I cannot help her!

I also feel guilty because I try to distant myself from her. The only interest she has is if I have a boyfriend or not. She does not wish to hear about any other part of my life. Note: I have never been in a proper relationship with a man.

I saw her today feeling alright with myself and with life but now I feel plain miserable! I just sit and listen to how terrible her life is and how she thinks she is dying. I feel like I am on an emotional rollercoaster! I know my mother is unstable (psychologically) so I try to show her love without letting her feed off misery.

How do I lend support to my mother without getting caught up in her problems?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Hello Haunted,
Yes, some people become wholly absorbed in a lifetime career of being a Victim, to an extent that makes it hard to help them ( to become anything other than a victim would need them to change the habits of a lifetime !) and hard to bear them at times. It is very difficult to handle this. Some skilled shrinks care able, eg by using CBT methods, to move such a person towards a more positive approach to life, but even with skill and training, this is hard to do, especially as the person is likely to resist progress.
One may have to try to set limits on one's exposure to such practised misery --- ask them, as you're leaving to slect one of the many things they're miserable about, about which they could do something to improve it --- and ask them to call you when they have managed to change that, or any other of their grievances, for the better. Then one would visit with praise and support for the changes made ; and look much less interested and more unenthusiastic, when she returns to harp on her unchanged grievances.
And explore whether she can't get much more involved in activities of various sorts, including, if possible, getting her involved in helping others, which is both useful in itself, and can serve as a valuable reminder that she hasn't the worst problems in the world, and isn't the only person with problems.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: KC | 2005/07/04

CS - These people do believe their problems are the worst.

I've asked you about my crazy mom - and its really not so easy to get them to see that they could be worse off. I have tried everything, from telling her she should appreciate the fact that she has sight - to the fact that she doesnt go to bed hungry. NOTHING!!

She just feels so sorry for herself - it honestly pisses me off.

So unless i strap her to the bed and get the medics to drag her to a mental institute, i will have to put up with this behaviour...

Good luck Haunted - i hope you have better luck with your mom than i do:-)

But its true - she loves being the VICTIM.

Reply to KC

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