Don’t Be Your Own Doctor

My psychologist dad recently witnessed my son’s uncooperativeness around homework.   Ian argued with me  whether he had a second set of flashcards to study, until he ultimately presented them after my pressing him about it for five minutes.

My dad never gave unsolicited psychological analysis or recommendations but this time, curious and a little desperate for help, I asked him for his clinical insight.  He mouthed to me “oppositional” and maybe “passive-aggressive”.

That afternoon while sitting and visiting on our back porch swing, my husband and I did Internet searches on the descriptions and treatments for Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  How could I not have seen it?  I work with kids all the time and make these diagnoses.  Here I was dealing with ODD right under my roof and did not even realize it.

Later that week, I asked my dad more if he really thought Ian had Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  “No,”  my dad said, while he concurred that Ian was oppositional that day.  Then he went on to describe Ian as an artistic person who sees schoolwork as an infringement on his creative time.  Artistic people are often disorganized and don’t put a high value on academic success.  He saw Ian as being willing to learn the basics, just enough to get by, but then move on to creating, building, and flowing at his own pace.

The moral of this story is don’t be your own doctor.

If it applies, an accurate diagnosis can accelerate progress to a positive outcome.  But if you think something is really going on, it is an act of humility and a gift to your loved one to get timely professional help.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip:  If you’re confused by what is going on in a relationship, research it and if necessary get outside help from a qualified professional.