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Congenital Laziness

Question:

Our 46 y/o son has been diagnosed with possible mild manic depression (cyclothymia). A couple of years ago he worked with a psychiatrist for a year but the doctor has died and no visible changes occurred during the therapy. Our son is pleasant, does work around the yard, and plays computer video games at night for a few days and then “doesn’t feel good” and sleeps day and night for 4 or 5 days. He only gets up to eat and go to the bathroom. When we try to get him up, he is irritable and nasty. He had aseptic necrosis with hip replacement surgery over a year ago, hasn’t worked since, but has no disability from the surgery. He is a licensed vocational nurse but “doesn’t want to do that any more.” He has seen at least 4 psychiatrists since he was in his 20s and only one of them actually came up with a diagnosis. It was “congenital laziness.” He is so pleasant and intelligent that I think the doctors think we (his parents) are making up–or at least exaggerating the situation. Our family doctor put him on Zoloft for a while, but it didn’t help much. We are at the point of forcing him to leave our home. However, he is a recovering speed addict, which he claims was therapeutic for him, and we fear that he will become a street person or go back to dealing drugs. He is impulsive and careless so he will probably end up in prison if he deals drugs. We only see three options: Put up with the present situation, which isn’t too bad for us but is terrible for his future. Pay for more psychotherapy, which over 20 years has been fruitless. (We are not rich.) “Kick him out” and go to visit him in prison. Can you give us any suggestions?

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Answer:

It seems to me that your analysis of the situation is clear enough. You have an adult son, probably ill in some fashion, who isn’t willing to care for himself. His main problem seems to be one of motivation; he doesn’t have any save for being motivated to indulge his whims and possibly to pursue an addict’s lifestyle. He is able to lean on you for support at present, but you are rightly concerned for the future. Your problem is one of control; whether to hold on, or let go. You would like him to be motivated to care for himself, but he isn’t. In lieu of that, you’d like to help him stay out of trouble. You can only do that by being a very direct support system for him; a situation that is troubling for other reasons – because it teaches him that if he dodges taking care of himself, someone else will do it for him – an unsustainable proposition. I don’t have any answers for you, but I can recommend that you both yourselves consult with a variety of advisors, including peers (possibly in a support group), a mental health doctor, and an estate planner. You need local advice and support from a variety of solid people you can trust and you need to cover your angles emotionally, ethically and financially so that you are able to make an informed decision. There probably isn’t a ‘right’ answer here, and possibly there isn’t even one that will leave you feeling satisfied. However, systematic exploration will at least help you to understand what your options are as a support system for your son, and how your peers will judge you based on different scenarios you might choose to pursue. Having done your homework, a solution that is most workable will hopefully appear. Good luck.

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    I am 26 and trying to quit using speed and become indapendent. I have a three year old daughter which became the motavation for me to change. I have started school and am not currently rasing my daughter, because I dont want to overwhelm myself and as a result, quit doing everything. I have decided that one thing at a time is a good start. I have been looking to actually quiting speed since I started school, but cant seem to muster the energy to do anything at all without it, I have cut down from abot 50 doller a day habit to about 15 doller a day habit, but have a panic attack if i think about going without it for even one day, as I have been using for 13 years now. I have been going boyfriend to boyfriend to support me and my habbit. I wish to live clean with a rewarding carrer and happy family, but I cant see myself with all that while using. An I cant see myself not using. Even though I dont ever get high anymore (use enough to feel the euphoric effect) I cant seem to deal with every day life without it. I have tried obtaining medication, and once acchieved a 6 month period of sobrity with a combo of welbutrin and rimron, but when I ask for these to be perscribed again, I am told " of corse it worked for you, welbutrin is a stemulant" and the psyciatrist wont perscribe it. If it works and its not meth, whats the problem?

    anyway, I just dont know what to do, I am doing well in school and dont want anything to interfear with my education or grant funding, so treatment impatent is not an option, nor has it ever worked for me anyway. I really do want to quit, but I dont know how. I do know I will need something to assist me in the motavation to get out of bed and live, in order to not use, because other wise i will go right back to using, so I can get out of bed.

  • Anonymous-1

    I will be checking back often, and I hope to get a response soon.

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