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How to convince someone to get therapy

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How to convince someone to get therapy

Postby mr1992 » Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:38 pm

Hey there,

I know this is probably a loaded question and I hope I have chosen the right forum for this - but how can one persuade someone he's suffering from a mental illness?

In particular, this is about my dad. He's 59 and the only interests he can pursue are his job (interrim manager) and his hobby (horses; natural horsemanship) - other than that, he is unable to have a proper conversation and is generally disinterested/apathetic towards a majority of issues and topics. As soon as an argument, a request, or a conversation touches on him and problems he's got (perceived on my/his family's part), he shuts down and reacts emotionally, prohibiting any further enquiry, regardless of how diplomatically it is phrased. In group settings, he starts playing cards on his phone at some point.

I must add that two years ago, he's suffered from a stroke. This, however, is only a partial explanation for his behaviour; the inability to argue as well as a certain degree of apathy have been present before. Though it now appears as if the negative qualities have been amplified and the things he's likely unconsciously been struggling with come to the forefront. It was a predominantly left-sided stroke causing aphasia and partial paralysis of his right side; subsequent testing later on deemed him to be capable of addressing issues through a psychologist (mostly a software issue, not hardware). Since he is more emotional, my personal theory is that since the brain's left hemisphere is associated with logic, the stroke has taken the logical override ability that he previously had, thus now fully being exposed to all emotions. I emphasise, though, that that's my personal theory. Effectively, and dangerously, he now doesn't check his blood sugar levels (early-stage diabetes) nor his blood pressure whilst eating sugar on a daily basis (and lying that he doesn't). He briefly simply stopped taking all meds (none psychoactive) at one point but fortunately quickly realised that it was a stupid idea without medical supervision and natural substitutes. By now, he's recovered to ~80-90% but doesn't address the remaining issues (lack of sensation in his leg, watching his diet and replacing pills under supervision through diet, etc.)

History-wise, it's not as if there is no source of trauma. His parents were terribly abusive (pretty much everything safe for sexual abuse; I could write a book about that no-one would probably believe), his father probably a diagnosable narcissist, his best friend tragically died young from cancer. Both his parents are fortunately dead now. His late friend would likely have been the only person to be able to have got to him, whom he'd have listened to. In general, there's a whole slew of stuff that went on, particularly in early childhood but also in his adult years that he most certainly didn't process. His sister went through years of therapy and imho still hasn't properly digested things.

Further complicating matters is in my estimation his attitude; mental illness is something others have but not him. As mentioned in the first paragraph, he does natural horsemanship (we all do), and gave courses in it. As a brief excursion, natural horsemanship is the attempt to emulate horse language/behaviour; it is by now also used in therapy settings for its didactic and emotional effects on people. Google "horse-assissted therapy" or "horse-facilitated therapy" if you're interested. Anyway, in doing that, he's seen many people break down in sessions, placing him in some sort of "therapist" role (big quotation marks, this is never what he wanted but what sometimes happened), likely cementing the self-perception and deception that he's "fine" and in control of himself. Post-stroke, he's since given up teaching, though. Another issue he's got, trying to put blame on others and not really pursuing things rigidly (he wanted to make it his main business but didn't tackle it with his whole heart - he put the blame on me because I didn't create a business website when I was 15 - ignoring that I created a facebook page that got him customers but which he neglected, not pushing advertising/tending to social media to establish himself).

This self-perception was confirmed when we got him to talk to a therapist recently - more through my mum's threat that she'd leave him than anything else. The first session was him alone, though he phrased it like "my family thinks there's something wrong with me; I do have some problems in dealing with them so they are probably right." The therapist couldn't quite do anything with that, so the second session involved me and my mother; it appeared as though he tried to present himself in the best light possible, wasn't open and generally tried to maintain the image that "he was fine". Moreover, he treated the therapist like a service provider, not as an equal to explore and solve personal problems. It's not like it's money-related either; psychotherapy is covered by insurance. Through this presentation, the therapist said that it's like someone coming to a garage with a car for repairs and saying the car was fine - not quite anything he can do there. Or a polite way of saying why the bloody hell are you here to begin with if you don't want help?

Well, that's it in a "nutshell", if this length can be considered such. It's sort of a stalemate situation - he's becoming particularly angry and defensive if I say something to him; he's at various points said he sees his father in me or that I behave like him so anything I could say is null and void. He's sort of cowing to my mum because he's afraid of losing her; my sister has her own mental issues right now and he sees her as the "little girl"; if she says something, it's at my/our behest and not her own opinion. Perhaps I should elaborate on the living situation; my parents have a house and I live in a flat inside of it (separate access, fully appointed) with my girlfriend (fairly common in my country). My sister recently moved back in. We're both in our twenties. I've personally run out of ideas of how to crack him to finally see and address his problems. I know it isn't quite my place, but watching someone basically commit slow suicide (ignoring health problems associated with his stroke) isn't pleasant, either. He lets the house deteriorate, doesn't clean up after himself (didn't before, but it's extreme now), and doing most things is "too much" for him. He let's things slide, also important things she should address asap (e.g. tax or rather getting a tax consultant). He's got an extensive comfort zone he doesn't want to leave, and often sees things as "us vs him". The only thing I've come up with is sending his sister to talk to him, though she's failed in the past to get him into therapy (they also have a troubled relationship). He doesn't really have any close friends, either.

Therefore, any input on how to approach this would be quite welcome. Thank you very much in advance for your replies :-)
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