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An_256263 posted:
Hi,
I need some help as I've got a situation that is basically spiralling out of control and has finally started to affect me as I tend to be a person to whom practically everyone brings their issues to. Till now, it's never been an issue but now it's coming from my family and it's starting to affect me.

The problem stems from brother who's just graduated college and is back at home with my parents. He is difficult to talk to and has a tendency to talk in such a way that it hurts.
Common scenarios:
- If we talk about his plans going forward, he will go into this groaning and what amounts to banging his head and shouting.
- We end up with no choice but to shut up and walk away for fear of embarassment and unnecessary escalation
- He has said he needs this and that I've even bought some of those things for him but now when I ask about the next step it basically becomes a skype/telephone blackout - he turns it all off and pulls the plug
- If we try to keep our distance, he starts talking about things which if we even show a slight disinterest, he throws a fit
- He has a tendency to not trust anything we say as he thinks he has no say in anything
- This has led to him basically saying hurtful things and practically exploiting my folks
I go see my folks at least twice a year but they're getting old and their health is deteriorating and this is taking a mental toll on them. They are literally at the point where they're worried sick if the situation will change and I tend to hear about the gist of it and am powerless to do much.
I don't think the situation makes sense and I'm left wondering if my brother's got a medical condition which is affecting his personality or what exactly.
Ignoring the situation is not something I can do so What should I do?
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Reid Wilson, PhD responded:
Hey, An_256263-
Your brother may have some kind of physical problem that is causing his inappropriate behavior. But the most important issue is that he is abusing you and your parents. Given that your folks are aging, with health problems, they may not be capable of setting limits on your brother. Thy probably will say they don't want to chase him away. But limits are what he needs. He does not seem at all amenable to getting mental health assistance, although he needs it. The problem you should focus on now is: "how do I help my parents set limits on my brother so that they can protect their physical and mental health?" Get your parents into treatment. Find someone locally who will talk to them about the strain of interacting with an abusive son and the ways in which they can learn to block his abusive interactions. You may need to travel to your parent's hometown to take them to that first session or two (because they are unlikely to do it on their own), and include yourself in the session. This is probably a better approach than trying to have a confrontation with your defensive brother.


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