Friday, February 15, 2008

Dear Dr. Shrink

An occasional column dispensing psychological advice to our readers in need:

Dear Dr. Shrink,

One of my employees is an elderly man who used to work for my dad. "Dick" used to be a nice, reasonable guy. But over the years, he has become increasingly aloof and belligerent. Because he has a bad heart, I tend not to confront him about his behaviour and I just go along with his suggestions. Lately, however, his suggestions have cost us a lot of money and we’ve lost most of our customers. What can I do?

Confused in the Capital

Dear Confused,

Without knowing more, it’s difficult to assess your situation. However, it appears that your employee has deep-seated anger issues. Is it possible that "Dick" harbors some resentment towards you or your father? Is there some unfinished business from the past that he feels compelled to complete? Until "Dick" resolves his anger issues, I strongly advise you not to implement any of his suggestions. Otherwise, you run the risk of simply "going to war" over and over again.

Dr. Shrink

Dear Dr. Shrink,

My husband is a loving man and a good provider. However, "W" has one flaw that threatens to undermine our marriage: he always has to be right. A few years ago, he started a renovation project and tore up the entire garage. Rather than stop and get some professional help, he simply declared "mission accomplished" and kept on stubbornly making a mess. Now he’s threatening to renovate the kitchen. I’ve told him that it would be crazy to tear apart the kitchen until he’s fixed the garage but he just won’t listen. Any suggestions?

Wit’s End in Washington

Dear Wit’s End,

It appears that your husband is suffering from a mild case of megalomania. His delusions of grandeur and constant need to be right affect those close to him. At this point, it sounds like his actions are creating problems only for you. If you can moderate his behavior for the next year or two, it’s possible that his symptoms will subside and he will lose interest in imposing his will on others. However, if his condition worsens and his actions inconvenience friends, neighbors, co-workers and even strangers, it’s time to get professional help.

Dr. Shrink

Dear Dr. Shrink,

I’ve been married to the same man for over thirty years. "Bill" is a bright, ambitious man with an engaging personality. However, he has a huge ego, lies all the time and has been unfaithful on a number of occasions. I know that I should leave him but he does sometimes help me in pursuing my career goals. What should I do?

Waffling in Westchester

Dear Waffling,

At first blush, I’m tempted to say that you and your husband are co-dependent. In other words, you’re both using one another to meet your own needs notwithstanding the harm that is caused to you and those around you. Sometimes divorce is the only answer in such situations. However, in your case, I suggest that you first seek counselling. Who knows? Maybe "Bill" will spend more time helping you with your career aspirations and even be willing to assume the number two position on your matrimonial ticket. And if not, you can always dump him after you’ve reached your goal.

Dr. Shrink

Dear Dr. Shrink,

I’ve been dating "Rudy" for awhile now and things are starting to get serious. But I don’t know if we’re a good match. I want kids, monogamy and a couple of handguns. He, on the other hand, has some disturbingly liberal views. Yet when it comes to crime and law and order, he’s my kind of guy. Is he a good candidate for marriage?

Right-wing Republican

Dear Right-wing,

That depends. If you want someone who shares your views, then this guy may not be for you. But if you’re looking for a winner to help you get that white house of your dreams, he may be your only choice.

Dr. Shrink

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