Hello everybody! You’re going to love this case, it is a real…how shall I say…doozy! My client “Joe” was telling me about his demanding mother who lives with him and his wife. (Yes, I know, say no more!)
That would be a challenge in the best of circumstances but…let me put it this way… Joe’s mother is…how can I put this nicely? A nightmare! This woman craves an audience, craves attention, and craves adulation at a never-ending clip! I said, “Joe, take heart; there’s bound to be a remedy for her!”
I sent Joe the questionnaire for his mother to fill out. As I sometimes do, I asked Mati Fuller for her invaluable advice. Her comments are interspersed. Here’s how Joe replied:
Mati: Purple Italics
Elaine this was quite the learning experience for me. I tried to write down her responses as she phrased them. In some cases I provided my own remarks on how I see her and have experienced her. You may think this is horrible, and that is exactly what it is! She tries to keep a low profile nowadays as my wife “Marge” is back at home and my mom realizes she has no where else to go so she tries to control herself a little but overall she is quite the selfish, hateful, conceited, and lying…..
I’m sure you mean that in the nicest way….
…”person” in the world, and I have actually toned it down quite a bit out of fairness to her…
You’re the very soul of equanimity…..
…and to give you the facts for a correct remedy. GOOD LUCK READING, THIS WON’T BE PLEASANT.
That’s the way we like it around here!
Height: 5 ft
Weight: 168 lbs
1. What is your Chief Complaint?
Rosa: I don’t get good sleep and have low energy.
Joe: She is fault-finding, condescending, rude, judgmental, complaining, and has no gratitude towards anyone who helps her…
So, she’s a bit off!
She also believes she’s extremely pretty and looks only 50, every man over the age of 50 is in love with her, according to her!
She’s HOW old? Almost 80, did you say? And everyone’s attracted to her? Maybe I should re-evaluate my appearance….
Mati: This is an interesting clue! Obviously, being attractive to men is so important to her that she is in denial about the fact that she is no longer as pretty as she used to be. And, although most women want men to find them attractive, there is a difference between “normal” vanity, and the delusion that every man over the age of 50 is in love with her.
Unfortunately she is obese and has bad posture.
Yeah, that’s the look I’m goin’ for!
She will never take responsibility for anything that goes wrong, and even though she knows she is dead wrong, has never apologized to anyone to the best of my knowledge. If she gets into an argument she will fabricate facts to convince other people, I have caught her several times and called her on it, which makes her angry so I try to ignore it nowadays.
Mati: Fabricating facts to convince people is another interesting clue.
2. When did these problems begin? What was going on in your life around that time?
Joe: My dad showed me an evaluation by a Psychiatrist who labeled her as a “Malingerer”, defined as follows:
Malingering is a psychological term that refers to an individual fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders for a variety of motives, including getting financial gain, avoiding work, obtaining drugs, getting lighter criminal sentences, trying to get out of going to school, or simply to attract attention or sympathy.
Mati: Her deceitfulness seems to be a strong part of her psyche, and should definitely be covered by the remedy we are looking for. The interesting question is … what is she getting out of it?
3a. What aggravates your complaints?
Anytime she finds something not to her liking she throws a tantrum.
Mati: So, she can’t handle contradiction!
b. What brings them on?
Same as above.
c. What do you do to make yourself feel better or make the problem feel better?
She yells and screams and speaks ill of other people and then the next day she expects everything to be normal! She pretends like nothing happened.
4. At what time of the day or night do you feel the worst? Specify an hour or hours if you can.
No specific time.
5. What symptoms can you identify that accompany the complaints you have?
6. Environment: What kinds of weather or temperature makes you or the complaint worse?
Too hot or too cold makes life uncomfortable. Fall weather is best as temperature-wise it is pretty moderate.
7. Is there a position which is uncomfortable for you?
8. a)Do you tend to be chilly or warm?
She tends to be chilly and usually it is her hands and feet that are cold.
b) Do you perspire a great deal?
Doesn’t take much for her to sweat. She sweats all over her body but no stain or identifiable odor.
9. What does your tongue look like?
10a. Describe your nature.
Rosa: I’m peaceful and lovable and people just admire that about me, I’m very cultured and sophisticated. Five minutes with me and you can tell I’m highly educated.
Joe: Yeah, and modest too.
Mati: Again we can see how much she wants to be attractive to others. She wants to be loved and admired by others, and it looks like her whole world revolves around this issue.
b. What would you like to change about yourself?
Rosa: I don’t think I need to change anything.
Joe: Miss perfect, I say!
c. What gets in your way of moving forward?
d. What are you most proud of?
Rosa: My knitting. Everyone knows and recognizes how good I am at knitting and fast too.
Mati: Everyone knows and recognizes her.
This is where I thought of a spider remedy–knitting? Spinning a web? And she makes a point of saying “and FAST too.” I think everyone is familiar with how “fast” Tarentula, for example, is! They are very much in a hurry; and it was unusual, I thought, to make the point that you knit “fast”, since knitting is supposed to be a relaxing hobby, something you do in a leisurely fashion. The word “fast” is, in my opinion, a key word in the case.
e. What role do you play in relationships?
Well Elaine, over the past years, people come to know her, and then slowly distance themselves from her. She is 77 and has no friends. Her siblings and relatives want nothing to do with her. They find her critical of everyone and very unforgiving.
Mati: No friends? Then we can surely eliminate Phosphorus! Although Phosphorus wants attention from people, they are usually charming enough and beautiful enough to actually get it. But in Rosa’s case, there seems to be more of a delusion of beauty and attractiveness, more like wishful thinking.
11. How neat or cluttered is your home, your desk, etc.?
She claims she likes things neat and orderly but her room is a mess!
12. What makes you cry?
Rosa: I don’t know.
She is right, I have never seen her cry.
13. When you are upset, what do you do?
Rosa: I think logically.
That’s new! Usually she immediately blows up, starts saying hateful, hurtful things and is very condescending toward others.
14. What makes you angry? What do you do when you’re angry?
Rosa: I don’t lose my temper.
Anything that doesn’t go her way, no matter how petty, she will blow up!
She will curse and swear and say mean things about others and it doesn’t matter if they are true or not.
Mati: She seems to say whatever she wants to say, regardless of what the objective truth of the situation is, just to make herself look more attractive to others, so the desire to be attractive must be her core issue. She has to be attractive, as if her survival depends on it, and she will do whatever it takes to make it so. So, her deceitfulness and malingering are part of her survival mechanism. And if things don’t go her way, she feels threatened and blows up, and she defends herself any way she knows how!
15. Do you have an emotion that predominates?
Rosa: my compassion.
Hard for me to believe, I think it’s her intolerance/hatred for anyone who disagrees with her or doesn’t treat her like royalty.
16. What fears do you have?
17. What in your life should never have happened?
Rosa: I think everything went fine.
What??? It’s shocking!!!!!! I thought she would say something about my sister’s passing away at age 25 after becoming a Doctor back in 1983!
18. What has given you the most happiness in your life?
Rosa: My daughter becoming a doctor.
Funny; she had nothing to do with it, she would beat up my sister.
Good grief! So, the remedy has to cover “violence” too!
She was verbally abusive but enjoyed the attention she got in social gatherings when she would tell everyone her daughter was a Medical Doctor and it was all thanks to her (my mother’s) efforts.
Mati: Again, it all comes back to getting attention! She is happy to lie and deceive, if that is what it takes. (She probably doesn’t even know she is doing it!)
19. What was your childhood like?
Rosa: My childhood was great.
Elaine, this blows my mind. Her mother died at age 2, her father remarried a year later and sent her to a boarding school till she was 14.
So she left a few things out!
20. What bothers you most in other people? How do you respond to it?
Rosa: I don’t like it when they are condescending, I have to put them in their place.
What she meant to say was if her perception was that someone was condescending then she is mean and rude to them.
She must be great at parties!
21. What causes the most problems in your relationships?
Rosa: I have no problems with my relationships but if the other person doesn’t behave properly then I just tell them to go to hell and things are fine.
She is in complete denial. Marge has avoided her for the past two weeks and mom doesn’t seem to acknowledge that.
Mati: Denial is simply protection from having to face the truth. Maybe she just can’t admit to herself what is really going on.
22. Do you have any dreams that you remember? What are they about?
23. What would you need to feel happy?
Rosa: I’m fine and I feel happy.
She needs to be the center of attention and everyone should talk to her about everything. It is similar to wanting to be popular in high school, only she is close to 77.
Mati: My point exactly. Attention is everything to her. I wonder what happened in high school? Maybe that is where it all started, and somehow she got stuck in time!
24. What do you do at your job? How do you feel about your job?
Rosa: I’m retired so I don’t have to do anything but watch TV and enjoy.
25. If you were made President for a day, what would you change?
Rosa: I don’t know, maybe give some money to the needy??
Compassion’s not her strong suit.
26. When people have criticized you, what was the criticism about? Similarly, when people have praised you, what did you receive praise for?
Rosa: I ignore people who criticize me so I don’t know what they criticize me for but they like my sophisticated personality and my excellent knitting skills.
Mati: She doesn’t know what they don’t like about her, but she does know what they like!
27. How do you feel if you go without a meal?
I Feel better. If I eat I feel tired and heavy.
28a. What would you most like to eat if you could eat anything?
b. Is there a food you simply must have or you’d feel deprived?
c. Is your preference for tart, creamy, spicy, salty, or sweet food?
She loves to gluttonize ice cream, potato chips, and chocolate. So I would say creamy, salty, and sweets.
d. Is there a food you like which most of us would consider odd? Like vinegar or lemons, etc.?
29a. What foods do you dislike and refuse to eat?
b. Are there any foods that you avoid because despite loving them, they don’t agree with you?
Lemons and milk.
30a. How thirsty are you?
b. What do you like to drink?
c. Do you have a preference for how cold or hot your drinks should be?
I do like them cold refrigerated but not icy cold.
d. Do you take your drinks with ice?
31. How is your sleep? Does anything concern you about your sleep?
Rosa: I can’t sleep more than 4 hours straight and very rarely get a good night sleep. For the past 35 years I have been taking Ativan ( a sleeping pill) but ever since I came here I take Benadryl when I feel like it and that works fine.
32. Do you do anything during sleep? (for example, throw the covers off, stick your feet out of the covers, pull the covers over your head, talk, laugh, shriek, toss about, grind your teeth, drool, snore, walk, etc.)
She snores LOUD.
33. What position do you sleep in?
On her left side.
34. Do you or did you have any trouble related to your periods or PMS?
She is almost 77 safe to assume NO
35. Any children? Any problems with childbirth or after childbirth?
Two. No problems with or after childbirth.
36. What medications are you taking at present? Do you suspect that any of them may be causing what’s wrong with you?
None. But she loves to pop Benadryl, Ibuprofen (for her knee pains after a long walk, she is overweight, 5 ft tall and 168 lbs)
37. How frequently do you get colds/flus?
3 to 4 times a year.
38. Have you had any childhood illnesses twice, or in a very severe form, or after puberty?
Claims to have Typhoid Fever at age 13 but somehow survived it back in 1945.
39. Have you had any vaccinations? Have you ever had an adverse or unusual reaction to a vaccination?
Not that she can recall.
40. Have you had any surgery? What and when?
41. Have you had at any time: warts, cysts, polyps, tumors, moles or any other skin problem? Where were they located? Were they treated with anything or removed?
42. Do you tend to have any discharges (nasal,
vaginal, etc.)? What is the color, odor, and consistency?
Nasal discharge, clear watery and runny.
43. Are you sensitive to paint fumes, exhaust, dry cleaning fluid, fragrances, pollen, animal fur, drugs, etc.?
Dust and smell of fur ( dogs, cats, and lambs)
44. Family history: what diseases have been in your family? Include your grandparents.
Don’t know of any.
45. Make a time-line of significant events in your life that have left their mark, that were very difficult for you, and your age when they occurred and tell how you responded to them. We’re looking for the events in your life that might have been causations for what you have.
None really, I’ve had a perfect life, and lots of people are jealous of me.
Mati: Denial, denial, denial! All wishful thinking!
46. When you have to stand in line and wait, how do you feel?
Absolutely hate to stand in line and wait, makes me very very angry.
Yes, this confirms the hurried feeling and the restlessness in the case.
47. How do you respond when a family member is sick?
I feel bad for them
But notice she doesn’t DO anything for them! Very unusual.
48. Are there any issues with sex or the reproductive organs that you need help with?
49. How do you react to consolation and sympathy?
I hate consolation and sympathy!
Not to worry, you won’t have to put up with any of that!
50. What sorts of things do you consider to be ordeals that you hate to have to deal with?
When people don’t give me the proper respect and recognition. I simply must put them in their place.
She is kinda paranoid about the whole world being against her and is very suspicious of everyone. She believes everything is about her in a social gathering and is quite the center of the universe.
Mati: That is what she wants to be!
51. What are your hobbies?
Knitting, I’m very proud of my knitting.
She is very very good at knitting sweaters, scarves, and hats. The kids love her hand knitted sweaters and hats.
52. Where would you go if you could go anywhere, and why?
Maybe to a garden ’cause I like flowers but other than that I don’t think I wanna go anywhere in particular.
Interesting that she picks nature, and I certainly have two animal remedies in mind.
Her siblings and relatives avoid her like the plague and so do her neighbors as she tried writing to them but no one wrote back. Every time I get on the phone with her acquaintances they seem to get in a hurry when I mention mom wants to talk to you. One of them bluntly told me that all your mother wants to do is to talk bad about everyone, she has nothing uplifting to say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
53. Is there anything noteworthy about your face? For example, your complexion, frowning expression; acne, haggard look, droopy eyes, moles, freckles, etc.?
She has some moles on the right side of her face.
54. Is there anything noteworthy about your voice? For example, whining or stammering, or reflecting long before answering, or talking fast or slow, or interrupting, or finishing other people’s sentences, etc.
She will interrupt anyone in a heartbeat, LIKES TO TALK REALLY LOUD AND FAST. Occasionally she will finish other people’s sentences.
Mati: Interrupting and talking loud and fast is another great way to get attention.
55. Who in your life is a very difficult person, and why? How do you react to this person?
Anyone who doesn’t recognize me or respect me.
Recognize you as what? Respect you in what way?
Recognize me as a very intelligent capable person; disagreement is a simple example of disrespect. I simply will tell this person off and not talk to them or if the need arises, I can really raise my voice to humiliate them.
She is right about that; she is confrontational and absolutely impolite although compared to 6 yrs ago she has improved somewhat. She will also fabricate stories to prove her side of the story or make people think she is superior. She once told my daughter that she used to live in a Palace and was the daughter of a nobleman (her father was a constable in the Indian police, I doubt if he could afford a Palace). She also told Marge that she was a lawyer by education, however, she forgot that I knew she didn’t finish High School!
Yeah, there’s not too many high school drop-outs in law school, if my memory serves me correctly!
Mati: Being confrontational and impolite is also part of her survival mechanism that kicks in when someone doesn’t give her the right kind of attention or recognition.
56. If you won the Lottery, what would you do with the money?
The money is mine; I don’t owe anything to anyone. And anyway, people respect you when you have money.
But Ma, they respect your money or expect something in return, they’re not actually respecting you are they?
Well I can let them expect something in return and respect me while I give them nothing.
(I didn’t say anything more as I wanted to avoid an argument.)
Mati: Money always gets people’s attention! You can see how everything she does has some connection to the issue of getting attention, so these are all core components.
57. Describe your energy.
I’m low energy in the morning. Two hours after I wake up i.e. around 11:00 a.m. I feel energetic, but by 3:00 p.m. I’m pretty much done for the day and like to rest and watch TV
( she watches TV about 5 hours a day and does not even take a walk or exercise).
58. Is there anything that really gets on your nerves? How do you react to it?
I don’t like when people don’t respect me and give me proper attention.
Mati: Attention is like food to her!
How would you know if they are disrespectful, they could be busy or shy and not open to conversation?
No that’s not how it is. I go into the room they should welcome me and be nice and respectful.
Mati: She must have it, it’s like an addiction!
59. Are there any topics you seem to be obsessed with?
60. What was your ambition in childhood? What is your ambition now?
Mom, what did you wanna be when you grew up?
Nothing really, I really didn’t have any ambition, I mean I was pretty and spoke English so I was educated everyone knew I was special why would I wanna be anything else?
Mati: Being pretty gave her attention, so why would she want anything more? Any other ambition simply wasn’t needed in her perception of reality. And this is what we need to understand. We need to look at how she ticks at her core level. In this case it has to do with getting attention.
Answers to follow-up questions:
Joe, how was your sister treated by her?
My sister was a child prodigy as a student, she finished high school at the age of 16, and took a board exam in which all the city children competed (averarge age was 18 for them). She came #1 out of 43,000 students, quite an accomplishment. She finished med school by the age of 23!!! and one year later was awarded Fellow of Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was quite the lovable person, kinda goofy and funny, not stuck up at all, neither proud nor pretentious. Of course everybody in our little town loved her and my mom was a bit pissed about it as she was proud and pretentious. She would try to control my sister who was also pretty timid but intelligent enough to see through my mom. My mom realized that too, but at the same time my mom liked to take credit for my sister’s achievements. She would physically and verbally abuse my sister and try to dominate her. However, I believe my mom knew that my sister would never actually believe nor bow down to her, she would only do so to avoid confrontation or to keep my mom away from her.
My sister told me that when she was 12 she decided to run away but my Dad sensed it and caught up with her and talked her into staying home. She also thought that our mom had adopted the two of us since we are nothing like her and we used to joke about it all the time. I remember she once slapped my sister on the face so hard that she ruptured a blood vessel and her eye turned red. I gotta stop here, Elaine……..
More info about lemons?
She tells me that she loves lemonade and lemon chutney and lemon over a number of dishes but claims it gives her joint pains now.
Joe, it can’t be that she has no fears; think!
OK, as I remember, she is scared of thunder and lightning, live or dead snakes, and she also admitted something weird, she is afraid of waves in the ocean but likes pond water if that makes sense. We live on Meadow Hill Ave. and the street is sloped, she is afraid of falling down or losing her balance. She is also afraid of accidentally locking herself out of the house, she only goes outside if somebody is inside the house or at least that’s the excuse she uses.
Although she denies it, she has always been afraid of snakes as far back as I can remember. Last weekend my bonehead teenager accidentally killed a snake (with the lawn mower) about two feet long and wanted to keep it as a souvenir ( yeah that’s why I refer to him kindly as a bonehead) but she nearly had a heart attack.
Is your mother the type who has an intolerance for anyone moving at a slow pace? Does she try to hurry people up?
Like you said, nowadays she is slow but loves to go on a car ride with me as I drive a bit fast. She claims back in her day she was quite the fast driver or Miss Leadfoot. But intolerance for anyone moving at a slow pace, I haven’t observed that.
Does she feign illness to get attention?
All the time!!!! Every other day she is sick or has a fever that is not detected by a thermometer! She told Marge once she had stroke, so Marge took her the hospital. The doctors after a complete and thorough check up concluded she NEVER had a stroke in her life. At this point she changed her story and said some doctor told her she had a stroke, she didn’t know anything about it. She also told Marge she had a heart condition but guess what? The cardiologist didn’t think so, stories go on and on and on………………………
Mati: Feigning sickness is another great way to get attention!
What about music and dancing, any feelings about that?
She does like music and dance. She likes to watch the stupid Indian music videos and listens to the songs and turns up the volume.
Does she speak fast, eat fast? Move quickly? Of course, she’s old now, so think back to earlier times.
She does speak fast and she used to speak fast. She chews at slightly faster rate than normal and when she was young she did try to move fast even though she was not quite light on her feet.
Desire for chocolate? Vinegar?
Not that she mentioned. She does like chocolate but I don’t think she craves it. Nothing about vinegar.
Does she complain about noise?
Only if she is watching TV.
Problem with constipation?
Yes. She does complain about constipation almost on a regular basis.