Terra questions "what" is going to happen when they have kids and he can't cope. She asked, "What's going on with him?"
I had 4 directions for her to explore with him. He may be experiencing:
1. Sensory processing disorders
2. Adult Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
3. High-functioning autism
4. Generalized anxiety disorder or social anxiety disorder
So many of his "symptoms" overlap between the diagnoses. Anxiety is part of #1, #2, and #3. Sensory sensitivities occur within the course of #2, #3 and #4.
She needs to review the following resources and then, sit down with him and guide the conversation so that they drill down to one or two and then, get a comprehensive evaluation to determine if he has a diagnosable condition.
It's important to start this process now because if treatment is indicated, he'll need time to "redefine" himself in light of a diagnosis and to practice positive coping skills. Life just isn't going to get any easier!
1. Auditory sensory processing disorders
2. Here's a self-test for adult sensory issues
3. Too Fast, Too Bright, Too Loud, Too Tight by Sharon Heller
4. 10 Adult ADHD Symptoms
5. 14 Adults ADHD Signs and Symptoms
6. Adult ADHD
7. What to do if you think you might be on the autism spectrum as an adult
8. Anxiety disorders
I chose these resources because they are accurate, but not overwhelming in the amount of psychobabble that could make them confusing.
When I asked, Serena indicated that she initiated the divorce because he was abusive. They've been divorced for about 5 years.
I told her that this was a losing battle. He's either narcissistic or sociopathic (these diagnoses overlap) and that she wasn't going to make any meaningful changes in him. He's a bully.
Because she divorced him, he may still be reeling from the "narcissistic wound". He lost control of her, but still holding onto her and "beating her" so to speak. She's still tethered to him because of their daughter.
My primary concern is for their daughter. Father has verbally abused daughter in much of the same way he has abused Serena and daughter is lacking in confidence and self-esteem as a result of continual abuse.
I did not recommend that either of them confront father about his behavior because it will likely "reward" him. He'll take any attention he can get from them and if he is able to terrorize them one more time, that's too reinforcing to be positive.
I mentioned that daughter needs therapy to keep her from being drawn into abusive relationships in the future. One of the reasons that women move from abusive fathers to abusive men and then from one abusive man to another is the "at-home" feeling. Basically, it's the only kind of relationship they've known and it "feels familiar", believe it or not.
Although some states have laws where children of varying ages can seek out therapy without parental consent, her daughter going to therapy now may create another crisis. He's unlikely to approve of therapy because he wants the family's secrets of abuse to stay hidden.
If mother initiates therapy for daughter without his knowledge or consent, father could accuse her of parental alienation.
Mother may want to seek out therapy for herself in order to learn more about father's issues in order to neutralize the confrontations. The therapist will be able to give mother guidelines as to how to safely access support for her daughter. The therapist should be knowledgeable about the laws in their state.
Also, the therapist may invite daughter into mother's sessions to address mutual concerns regarding father's conduct or to address the issues in their relationship as a result of mother being unable to control his abuse.
Through mother's counseling, the therapist may discern that father is too dangerous to provoke at this point.
Something has to change here. Change will not happen by itself. Mother needs to get into therapy to help herself and her daughter.
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