All in the Family

Mental Illness and Caregiving Across the Generations

March Madness All Year Long

Imagine the uproar there would be if adult children of a parent suffering dementia—someone incapable of making decisions or seeking treatment—were told nothing could be done until mom or dad presented an imminent danger and asked for help! Read More

Food for Thought

I don't think your daughter is not capable of making her own decisions. She's just making decisions you don't like and that perhaps are indeed unwise. Maybe she got fed up of being controlled by you while she was an older minor and wants to have some freedom at last. Maybe, deep inside, she does not want to go to college or be sober even though it might be better if she did. While you probably have good intentions, the fact is that you just want her to be someone she is not. Moreover, some parents do not really have good intentions or more wisdom than their own adult child, so in order to protect those people, the law has to limit the rights of well-meaning parents as well.

some thoughts

Dear Monica:
I've been thinking about what you said. I agree that we walk a fine line. Certainly some parents have made decisions that have harmed their adult children. I believe individual rights need to be protected. However, when, as in my daughter's case, the health care providers say a person is not able to make decisions on their own, allowing them to do so is not responsible. I've suggested advance directives as a way to respect the rights of individuals. I'm sure there are other strategies. In my daughter's case, she did make her own decisions. She's taken up with one violent felon after the next, become addicted to meth, and landed in jail -- not good decisions on any count.

Relatives Are Protected, Too

Have you thought of the risk for the relatives if their very existence meant that there is no escape from treatment? Their supposedly mentally ill relative would sometimes decide to just kill them. It almost makes sense. Of course, many people would simply run away and hide. One way or another, family relations would just be strained to nonexistent. They wouldn't be any better as they are at this time.

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Rachel Pruchno, Ph.D. is Endowed Chair and Professor of Medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine. Her memoir Surrounded by Madnessis available at online bookstores.

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