Challenging behaviour in a middle aged adult — Scope | Disability forum
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Challenging behaviour in a middle aged adult

System Posts: 753 Scope online community team
This discussion was created from comments split from: Well, it depends... life as a Behavioural Specialist.


  • DianaW
    DianaW Member Posts: 30 Connected
    This is probably an impossible question to answer but - how can one get a middle-aged adult, who has exhibited deeply challenging behaviour for decades within his family, but managed to maintain ostensible professional success, assessed and brought to any understanding of his own actions? Although anecdotes of what he has done made psychotherapists treating his principal scapegoat suggest that he suffers from a personality disorder, his own GP apparently says that he has not been so diagnosed.
    The family has been deeply damaged by this over the decades but there seems no way to get the problem investigated and remedied.
  • will22
    will22 Member Posts: 31
    That is a very difficult question. Ultimately if someone is displaying a behavior or has some sort of issue which is impacting on others, but will not or cannot acknowledge this then options are quite limited. I'm assuming that whatever is going on is not presenting as such as difficulty that services become involved (you say that professionally he's doing fine)and if someone does not want to access support then they cannot be forced under normal circumstances. 

    If the impact is on the family as a whole, then the family could enter into some from of group counselling/therapy and try and draw this individual into that process. But  other than that, without more info I can't say. I'm sure that you have tried to bring the impact of this person's actions to their attention, but as you hint at, there are lots of different reasons that a person may struggle to understand the impact of their behavior or have the empathy to appreciate this.  

    Ultimately in any situation where an individual impacts on others there will come a point where efforts to support and help them must be balanced against the need to maintain one's own well being and the well-being of family. Difficulties within families are never that clear cut - how can you cut yourself of from family after all - but there's no way I know of to force this individual to acknowledge their behavior if they cannot appreciate the impact it's having. 
  • upholder
    upholder Member Posts: 5 Listener
    Well done for sharing this difficult situation, Diana. My dad's academic abilities got him through school decades before educators started realising it needed to address special needs- eg social awkwardness, anger- that academically gifted children often live with. This shaped my life, and what you've written reminds me of what my mum and siblings still have to live with.
    It sounds like kids involved are now over 18, so it's not a Social Services issue..
    Will points out they're unaware that their behaviour is socially unacceptable - so I'd expect telling them it is will lead to a hostile denial, and reinforce the barrier rather than taking it down.
    Close friends who listen sympathetically, and the mutual support of the rest of the family, are good responses for the pains and frustrations of being in such a relationship. 
  • DianaW
    DianaW Member Posts: 30 Connected
    Thanks, both.

    Family therapy was repeatedly proposed, to no avail. Both he and his mother (who behaved very similarly) were adamantly opposed to involvement in any such process and indignant at the implication that they might be other than perfect. Even proposing therapy increased the hostility level.
    Other family members were fearful of being targeted in their turn and, in their efforts to curry favour with him, eventually rendered the scapegoat suicidal. That led to further attacks, leaving no option but to cut free of them all - and then be universally blamed for 'abandoning' the mother.

    Psychotherapy has helped, while developing friendships and remoter cousins have provided something of an alternative family, but the rift seems painfully irreversible - not least because the perpetrator is determined that it should stay that way. His own now adolescent children have lost out, but they have their other aunts and uncles and may not miss the lost sheep.


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