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Does this sound like a recognizable illness?

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sam_54321

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Sep 28, 2009
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5
My mum has had frequent bouts of “blind rage” throughout my childhood. I’m in my late 30’s now, but it started when I was about 8. During these rages she would scream and shout at me or my brother, and often hit us too. On one occasion she tried to strangle me. These rages would occur very often, sometimes on a daily basis. She would shout things like “you’re evil”, “you’re a failure”, “you’re self-centred” etc, and shout about how hard her life was/is (her monologue would repeat from previous time I’d hear the shout the same things). She would sometimes say “she wanted to kill me with her bear hands”. During these episodes she would have mad eyes, and look quite scary (well, she did to me anyway!). I should add my dad killed himself when I was 8, so it was just the 3 of us around.

She has always fought with her neighbours, and recently next door have reported her to the police for an incident, and she is going to have to attend court on charges of ABH. I read the neighbours report, and it states that as well as a (possibly accidental) thing which caused a bruise to the neighbour (which I’d better not go into), she is also accused of going into a rage, shouting at the neighbour, saying she wants to kill her, and placing her hands nears the neighbours throat as if to strangle her. When I asked my mum if that happened she denied it, and is pleading not guilty.

Something that might be relevant is this. When I was a teenager she was discussing something with a friend, which resulted in her turning to me and saying “I never used to hit you, did I?” Obviously this was intended as a rhetorical question. I was very taken aback by this, and responded with “well….”. I didn’t have a chance to say any more – it lead to more severe rages, which even lead to me being hit!

Yesterday, I was with her and my friend. We got on the subject of how much power teachers have in schools nowadays, which lead to her telling (and almost bragging to) my friend that she never used to hit me. I have to say I felt quite angry inside, but I didn’t say anything – she is probably not emotionally secure to deal with it (or maybe I’m just a coward!). In any case, I’m not sure what it would have achieved.

Until now, I had had the view that deep down she remembers everything she had done, but keeps it hidden deep in her subconscious as it was too painful to bring back. Yesterday it dawned on me that maybe when she has these episodes of “blind rage”, she actually can’t remember anything about it (in the same way someone heavily drunk often can’t remember anything later). I also suspected until yesterday that she was hiding the truth from me regarding the fight with the neighbour – now I’m wondering if really can’t remember it.

Therefore, is there anyone here who recognized my mum’s symptoms, and could shed light on it? Is it really possible that she has no memory of her rages?

Sorry for the very long message, but thanks for reading it, and I hope someone can help.
 
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Apotheosis

Guest
Hi Sam - Who really knows? I have seen a lot of things. Even the nicest & sweetest of people it would appear can get into similar states; & then pretend that none of it happened. We all wear masks - some more than others; & the majority of people are very tied up in their self image that they want to project out to the World - whether it is true or not; is of no consequence or concern to most people - just what they see as what other people think of them.
 
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sam_54321

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Sep 28, 2009
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Thanks for your reply Apotheosis. If what you say is true, and she can remember it, I find it unforgivable that she would make such a big thing of stating that she never hit me, and that she doesn't approve of it (in front of me). If what you're saying is true then she deserves to be reminded of the truth, whatever the consequence.

I'd be interested to hear what others think.
 
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*Sapphire*

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I find blind rage difficult to accept in terms of not remembering it.

I always thought blind rage meant a temporary loss of control, an impulsive act temporarily blind to the consequences of your actions, putting your need to vent way before the well being and safety of others.

It is interesting that her denial occurs when others are present. And that when you challenged it, it led to yet another impulsive and abusive act. 'Beating into submission' is a phrase that comes to mind.

Your mother may well sorely regret what she has done, which is why she may have attacked you when you kind of suggested she did hit you - absurdley. And/or she is in denial, and wants other to be in denial of it too. Because acceptance that she may have done these things, might bring feelings of guilt or other deep feelings that she may want to avoid addressing because they are too painful. And/or she cares what others think of her. It is the 'what would the neighbours think' attitude which is not enough to stop her from what she is doing but motivates her to cover it up.

I hope you are not offended by my saying this about your mother. This is all my own opinion, i don't know her. And she may well have deep issues she needs to address herself that may be causing this. She may be in deep pain herself. In my opinion the possible underlying issues needs understanding but the way she deals with them does not. And my opinions are based on personal experience.
 
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sam_54321

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Sep 28, 2009
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Hi Sapphire77, thanks a lot for your message, and of course I'm not at all offended by any of your comments.

What you say sounds very plausible, and at the same time slightly unsettling, even though I'm sure now that what you're saying is most likely true in this case. I was sort of hoping she wasn't aware of her actions, because that would give her an excuse (in my eyes at least).

She does have deep issues that she's constantly had to deal with, much of it from a very unhappy childhood. She been seeing a phyciatrist for a long time now, as well as other mental health specialists. The drugs she's currently on seem to be helping her most recent depression.

I have always kept a safe emotional distance from her (from about the age of 14), and from that time I'd say I had a strong hate for her. Now it's just a strong dislike or disrespect. Interestingly, I'm very sure that she views our relationship as a normal and healthy mother/son one, as does anyone else who sees us together.

Sorry you have had to endure a similar thing. It's good to speak to someone who has been through the same thing though.
 
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*Sapphire*

Guest
That's okay Sam.

I am sure your mother does not plan to be violent, I am sure it is all impulsive, but it in no way excuses what she has done, or does do.

We all have our anger thermometer and it is up to your mum to know hers and walk away when she feels it may be boiling to the point of abusive actions. She is obviously not aware of hers, or not wanting to address it, because when you are that angry you want relief and often that comes in the form of violence. To me it seems like sheer laziness or ignorance of the consequences in not addressing it. Because holding onto those feelings and walking away with them bubbling up inside is far harder to cope with than slapping someone which can bring immediate relief.

In my opinion she also needs to work on what her triggers are and why these triggers touch her so deeply inside that she loses control. Often these triggers are as a result of schemas. In it's simplest form, a schema is a deeply held belief you have, and if someone challenges it can cause a reaction that triggers a really extreme emotion, like anger.

I would have a think about the arguments that boil over into abuse and see if there is a common theme. You have discussed one, you challenged a false memory she had of never being abusive. Perhaps she wants you and others to see her in a particular light and when you didn't then she tried to force you to believe it by hitting you. Very often when someone does this, the other person ends up apologising and agreeing with them, saying that they were in the wrong, just to calm the situation down, avoid further violence. By ddoing this you are pandering to the ego of the person being abusive and in a way you are giving them permission to do it again. It is very hard to stand up to someone who uses their hands in such a negative and frightening way.

She may also not be aware of how often she is violent. Often the victim remembers acts of violence in much more detail than the person doing it. They may think they just give th occassional slap when the victim may remember it being a daily thing. This is because to the perpertrator it may mean little, but to the victim it is devastating.

I don't want you to hate your mum, but if you can get to a state where you are not accepting of her actions, and lay down strict boundaries not only will it be helpful to you, but to her too. Because if she learns in your relationship to control herself, she can learn to do it with others.
 
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sam_54321

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Sep 28, 2009
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Thanks again Sapphire, that's very interesting and insightful.

I actually don't see my mum that often these days, so I am not in the firing line of her verbal or physical abuse anymore. Now that my brother and I are not around to act as her metaphorical punch bag, I suspect she has to take it out on others when available (such as her neighbours for example).

As I am in my late thirties now it has been about 17 years since she has hit me, and I wouldn't tolerate that now (I doubt she'd be brave enough to try it!). Confronting her back then would have been a daunting prospect. She threw my brother out the house when he was about 16, and I was scared of that happening to me at the time. Given the current situation it might be a little late for me to start laying down boundaries, but I can see the merit of it. I do try to pick her up on her "put down" comments she often makes, and I'll try not to let any of them slip through the net in future.

It’s a shame really, because if I had a normal healthy relationship with her, I could offer her emotional support (like most families?). I suppose the present situation is an inevitable outcome – you can’t have your cake and eat it, if that’s the correct saying! I still see her and pretend everything’s ok (although I’m not a great actor), so things could have turned out worse!

What originally sparked me posting was that I wondered if she could remember what happened between her and her neighbour recently, regarding the ABH charge. I could see three possibilities. 1) the neighbour made it all up. 2) it did happen and my mum remembers and is lying to me. 3) it did happen but she can’t remember. I’m now leaning towards number 2!

Thanks again for all your advice.
 
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*Sapphire*

Guest
That's okay Sam.

I am very sorry for your brothers and yours suffering, although I am glad you have managed to come through it as well as you have appeared to.

There are resources out there to help you if things that happened then affect you or your brother negatively now, whatever the issue may be.

Perhaps whether your mother truly remembers it or not this charge of ABH will hopefully make her address the issue whatever the cause. So it may be a good thing for all of you, and perhaps allow some honest and open communication between you.

Take care, and I wish you all the best for the future.
 
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sam_54321

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Sep 28, 2009
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My mum's court case is over now, and she was found guilty.

I was in the court, and I'm still not convinced she can remember certain things from the past. Either that or she's an incredibly good liar!

What's very evident though, is that she has a severe mental illness. She sees a psychiatrist occasionally, and I managed to find out his name and number. I was wondering whether it might be a good idea for me to phone him to ask if he's aware of her psychotic episodes and her apparent loss or memory. Also, I'd like to ask him if he has any idea what my mum's illness is.

Therefore, my question is, do people think it's a good idea for me to contact her psychiatrist? Maybe it's confidential and he can't discuss anything with me?

Thanks for your help.
 
rollinat

rollinat

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I don't know if the psychiatrist would be able to speak to you because of confidentiality, but I don't think it would do any harm to call to find out. At the very least it shows your mum's psychiatrist that there are family members who care about what has been happening.

Take care :hug:
 
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suki1066

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Jul 28, 2009
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Hi Sam Hope your ok. you state in your first post that this started aged 8 and your dad died around the same time. Maybe this was the trigger for her extending her hurt and anger that she felt to you. im no phsytatrist just an odinary person, but i have learnt a few lessons along the way. \iv always avoided confuntation with people who have hurt me. now i say what i feel . i dont know wether you fancy saying something along the lines of " mum when i was growing up you used to make me feel so frightened , you hurt me and made me feel bad about myself. you try to make out that you dont rememember , but i remember clearly. i dont want to punish you now but i want you to accept that i DO remember and i wont accept you behaving like it any more" or summat along the same lines. you sound like a nice man and only from my own life ive found that telling someone how they have made you feel is taking contol of a situation for yourself.... jane x
 
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