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Mother has SEVERE untreated OCD

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My mother has severe untreated OCD. She constantly washes her hands and opens doors and such with elbows etc. My husband is HIV + and she is terrified of him and being around him. She also treats myself and our daughter like lepers as if we are “guilty by association.” She doesn’t like us even to use the bathroom at her house and while we are there she watches us every second to make sure we don’t “contaminate” anything. I don’t stop by my folks house very often for this reason. However, when we do stop by she often treats my daughter (age 7) and myself with hostility and you can tell she is disgusted with us even being there and usually rushes us out. In addition, I do not bring my husband over very often to be respectful of her illness.

My mother will never get help and hides her illness well from other extended family members. For my own sanity, I think it is time to cut her out of my life and unfortunately my father as well. Since she will not get help it will always be that way- i.e. us being treated like lepers and she really does act inappropriate in front of my daughter to the point my daughter has concluded that that my mother “does not like me.” She also guilt trips me when I stop by of things I have done in the past (i.e. teenage rebellious behavior) and says things like “I will kill myself” or “I am going to have a heart attack” as a way of lashing out since she is so angry/afraid to have my in her prescence.

I feel like her behavior becomes more and more out of control towards us and on that end I think it’s time that I end my relationship with my mother, since it causes myself husband and daughter nothing but pain and grief. What is your opinion on this matter?
Thank you kindly in advance.

Mother has SEVERE untreated OCD

Answered by on -


As difficult as this is, I think it is drastic to cut your mother out of your life completely. She is clearly ill and not entirely responsible for how she acts. I have a guess that you wouldn’t stop seeing her if she had cancer or some other disease. Mental illness can be just as incapacitating. The way she behaves when you are in her home isn’t about how she feels about you. Her fear of contamination is so big it dwarfs her ability to love. How tragic for all of you!

I wonder if you could do better on neutral territory. She might, for example, be able to meet you for shopping or coffee occasionally. Meanwhile, you didn’t mention how your father is dealing with her behavior. This must be difficult for him as well. I encourage you and your dad to educate yourselves about OCD and the treatment options that are available. There are medications that can provide significant relief. Once you know more about what might help, perhaps you and your dad can find a way to support your mother in looking into treatment.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Mother has SEVERE untreated OCD

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Mother has SEVERE untreated OCD. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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