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Mother–In-Law has Possible Personality Disorder

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My husband and I got married. Her behavior and the way she is forced me to stay in my closet sized room while I was living there and it triggered my first experience with depression. Her behavior and the fact that she caused me to sink into depression has left me to highly resent her, I would actually say hate. I have went to group counseling with her and it was suggested that she has a personality disorder and that she needed to come back for her own private sessions. I’m at the end of my rope with her. She never went back to counseling. But I want to give her an ultimatum, to either go get help and change your behavior or stay away from me and my children. Is that wrong? The rest of the family ignores her and tells me that she is just being who she is and to ignore her, but I am sick of it and I want her held accountable for her actions. She is constantly disrespecting me and trying to force my husband to do what she wants.

Mother–In-Law has Possible Personality Disorder

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Trying to change someone with a personality disorder is not likely to work. If everyone else around you has suggested that she needs to be ignored — follow their advice. You are not likely to be successful when you try to change someone who has exhibited such behavior. But you can change yourself. I would highly recommend you and your husband talk about strategies for coping. This is not your fight alone. It is both yours and his. Discussing the variety of options for coping with your mother-in-law would be important for you and your husband to discuss. If you don’t make progress you may want to try couples counseling. The find help tab at the top of the page can help you find someone in your area.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Mother–In-Law has Possible Personality Disorder

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Mother–In-Law has Possible Personality Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 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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