I am an Indian male aged 31 and married. I live in US with my wife. Both our parents are in India. My wife and my mother would have spend less than total of 4 months time together is the last five years.

My mother is a very nice person. But I believe her behavior to my wife is very different and no one else who knows my mom would believe this.

My wife claims that my mom would not let her have a meal when she is around. When I was in India with my mom a couple of years ago my mom came to me and said that my wife needs to see a psychiatric counselor for no reason at all. I did not answer anything to this, since it did not make any sense to me.

Recently one of my aunts took her own life in India. We talked about how wrong it is to do such a thing . When I visited my parents, my mom said that my aunt was always alone. And my wife is also alone in the US and she might do something like my aunt. I think this was inappropriate. I didn’t answer her. My sister and my dad were there and they acknowledged what she said without answering.

After I came back to states, I asked my mom, why she said this. She says its out of concern. This does not sound like normal behavior. I am really concerned and I am having lot of arguments with my parents recently. Not sure how to handle this

A: I can only imagine how uncomfortable this situation is, and appreciate having the opportunity to offer an opinion on what may be happening.

Your mother losing her sister to suicide must have been a great shock. Often when a family member has taken their own life those closest struggle with various types of guilt. One variation is the thought that they could have done something to prevent it. My guess is that your mother has had some very strong feelings surrounding her sister’s death, and these very powerful emotions and guilt may be altering her view of the world. She may see people at risk who remind her of her sister in some way.

There are many ways to describe this phenomenon, but the easiest is to understand this as a displacement. Your mother is most likely displacing the anxiety about your aunt to your wife.

I would encourage you to suggest to your mom that she seek grief counselling for her profound loss.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan