Q:  Should We Pamper My Stepbrother?


Dr.Phelps,

My step brother has been diagnosed with bipolar.Then he changed P.doctors.The doctor supposedly told my stepdad that they should give him what he wants to make him happy, In other words to pamper him like a baby,give in to him on whatever he wants.My mom said she would not baby him that doing that she would not be helping him and i feel the same way.I don't have bipolar but i do have other mental disorders and i know that i want to be treated as normal as possible and i would think thats how he needs to be treated.So i would really appreciate help on how we should treat him.We all love him so much and want to help as much as we can in the best way that we can.

Thanks Sharon

Dear Sharon -- 
In general I would share your point of view.  Sometimes when somebody listens to the doctor, they hear something pretty different than what actually comes out of the doc's mouth -- i.e. closer to what they wanted to hear.  Or when they later repeat what they heard, a lot of their beliefs get mixed in too.  So we can't really know what the doc' actually said, but in any case, there's some conflict brewing around this and you're right to want to get it addressed.  One of the folks treating your stepbrother might be in a position to help your family by sitting you all down together and talking about the treatment strategies they have in mind, including how to deal with him at home (I doubt you're going to hear that the idea is to baby him).  If that isn't done by the treatment team, you could ask your parents to set up a family meeting to talk about this yourselves; and if that isn't practical (like the issue it too hot, or you're not going to get listened to) you could ask if your parents might look for a therapist to help the family cope and come together around how your stepbrother is going to be handled.   There are therapists who specialize in working with families who face these kinds of problems.  I hope one of these ideas will be helpful to you. 

Dr. Phelps


Published August, 2001