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My Brother Needs Help

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From the U.S.: I believe my brother suffers from a severe personality disorder. He is 21 years old. He is extremely aggressive when he doesn’t get his way, he verbally abuses those that are close to him because “we don’t ever help him with anything”. He’s incredibly lazy, refuses to work and uses my parents divorce as an excuse to be “depressed” and miss work.

I know that it’s more of his lies, because I went to my mother’s house where he lives and saw him hanging out with his girlfriend, laughing and smoking marijuana. He constantly blames everyone else for his problems and he’s a compulsive liar, he will literally [lie] about something he did right in your face. He constantly claims that he wants to kill himself, but I know he’s too much of a coward to do so, I believe it just another one of his manipulation schemes.

Yesterday he got into a huge fight with my ill mother about the dog in the house, she is no condition to take care of herself let alone a dog and she asked him to get rid of him. His response to this situation was to go to the animal shelter and put the dog to sleep, after that he came back home with the dog in the trunk and proceeded to show my mom what he did, then he facetimed me on the phone to show me the dead dog.

I know my brother needs real help, but he’s completely unwilling and we cant control him considering he’s a semi-professional MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter. My parents and I are devastated and have no idea what to do with him anymore.

My Brother Needs Help

Answered by on -


I don’t know if your brother has a personality disorder. I do think he’s a bully. Why, oh why, is he living with his ill mother? I would think the incident with the dog would be the last straw.

Nowhere is it written that parents have to continue to care for a 21 year old who is disrespectful, mean and manipulative. Millions of kids go through their parents divorce. It’s often not easy, it’s true. But most get on with their adult lives. Your brother is playing on your parents’ feelings of guilt and obligation. He is misusing their love.

With all good intentions, your family is enabling a bully. It’s long past time for calling things as they are. If your brother has money for marijuana, training, and a girlfriend, he probably has money to find a room somewhere. If he can’t be grateful for family support and make solid contributions to the household (both financial and doing chores), he shouldn’t be living off his mom. Give him a deadline for shaping up or shipping out.

Do be prepared for an adult version of a tantrum. Bullies don’t give up easily. He will only take the family seriously if you are serious. If he threatens suicide, call the police to get him to the local crisis team for evaluation for possible hospitalization. Ditto if he threatens to harm anyone else.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

My Brother Needs Help

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

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). My Brother Needs Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 2 Sep 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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