Environment matters:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

My adult nephew suffers from mental illness but after 35 years he has done well in his coping. He has taken some responsibility for his behavior and the consequences of his actions on others around him, including his family. This wasn’t the case early on.

What I am concerned about today is his daughter. She has been on psychiatric medications since the age of 4 and by now is on quite a lot of them and some are seriously strong medications. She has been, and still is, a handful according to my nephew. None of the medications she is on seem to work forever. Currently he doesn’t see the pills as doing much good but he fears that removing them could make her worse. Neither he or his wife can afford to miss work should this happen. They are on the cusp financially.

What can he do?


Dear concerned,

Life is like a table. It has many legs. Medications are only one leg and relying on only one leg makes the whole table unstable. All very young children are primarily instinctual. How they feel determines how they act. As children grow, logic and data are supposed to kick in to help them learn to make good choices. But people need to make an effort to discriminate when it is appropriate to act or not act on their feelings. It is seldom a natural ability. Many normal adults never acquire this skill but in every case of mental illness, the thinking remains nearly entirely feeling based.

Look at the table again. Now look at your nephew’s daughter. If she is a table, and they are using only medication to control her problem, then it is being addressed solely on one leg. This could prevent her from ever acquiring the skills to help manage her own feelings or assume personal responsibility. It could keep her emotionally like a child forever.

This is why psychiatric medication, if used alone and without additional learning and therapy, is not a long term solution. If a patient relies solely on medications, after a ten year period they are worse off than before they ever took medications in the first place. Medication alone will not help them to acquire the skills that teach them to not be a feeling based reflexic automaton.

If an individual doesn’t learn to address their own life and advocate for themselves, their lives certainly won’t get any better or different. They never develop personal will or choice. Mental illness doesn’t bypass this system. It is a result of this system.

If your nephew doesn’t get his daughter into counseling, get her involved in karate or some sport, Art, and other activities that will gain her skills and mastery of her emotions and behaviors she will be on medication and be a mental health patient for the rest of her life-guaranteed. Our current paradigm says it’s all genetic and intervention doesn’t matter much. PURE BALLONY. I have seen children of mentally ill parents excel after being given good resources and different opportunities from those their parents had. I have also seen kids from supposedly healthy homes who are given indulgence, poor resources, and poor skill acquisition. They have not fared so well.

Environment matters, it has even been shown recently to alter ones DNA.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I agree with BALONEY etc.

I also have to express astonishment that some group of medical assholes actually used their best professional judgement to put a child unattended on increasing medications…and some parent gave permission.

I will simply give Nephew a warning that at this point the child’s system is so polluted with drugs that if they are withdrawn cold turkey it could be life threatening. I would recommend strongly that Nephew seek the advice of a medical psychiatrist with a more holistic approach who can begin to get the freakin’ poison out of this poor girl without damaging her any further in the effort.

Shame on you, whoever did this.

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All people are a cliché:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I am not sure if it is a problem but my situation just feels weird sometimes. I have been married for over 15 years and my wife can finish my thoughts before I can even formulate what I was going to say.
Because of this, it feels like, “why bother if I am I that predictable? How can she not be bored with me if I don’t need to actually participate?”
Is this normal? And if so, why can’t I do the same with her? I never know what she is thinking. I can’t tell if she is mad at me or just having a bad day.

Just a Guy

Dear Guy

A professor I once worked under used to say, “All people are a cliché.” What he meant was that what people have done before, they will do again, and in more or less the same pattern. It makes sense if you consider this fact- you can only know what you know and what you do is based on what you know. Some people are better at recognizing the clichés than others. Your wife pays attention to you, or she would not know you so well, and that is not a bad thing. All people are predictable if you are paying attention.

I wouldn’t say you bore her. That is your issue, probably due to your self-esteem. Besides, predictability and stability in a relationship are not bad things. Unpredictable relationships are rollercoaster’s. But if you are worried about it, surprise her. Buy her some flowers tonight.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: if your wife were bored with you, instead of paying such close attention that she can predict your every thought, she would ignore you, day dream about more exciting partners and have no idea what you are going to say because she doesn’t give a crap.

Here is another cliche, but one that is true- heterosexual men are not nearly as intuitive as heterosexual women and gay men. It’s an actual feature of brain development, not some sort of character deficiency in you. Heterosexual men and gay women are more mechanically inclined and less connected to their emotional and intuitive centers. However, if you take a cue from your wife and start paying the sort of attention to her that she pays to you, you will begin to notice many things about her that You don’t notice now.

Intuition is not a magical power that comes out of the blue. Intuition is the result of careful observation, a good memory, and the ability to process a lot of information and draw conclusions based on multiple evidence. If you went to police training school, you would learn how to develop keen powers of observation. Cops see a lot because they learned how. You can learn too. And Granny intuitively predicts that when you become more observant, not only will you understand your wife better, you will BOTH find yourself much less boring. :)

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Be Gracious, it not worth your sweat to fret:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I worked for 10 years at a company that offered a good salary and benefits. When the recession hit, both myself and many of my friends were laid off due to budget cuts. It’s been several years and I still haven’t managed to find a full time job. I live from grant project to grant project.
One of my laid-off work friends, Debra, had put in 20 years of service before getting canned. She was searching for a couple years and FINALLY found a new job the other week. Another friend told me about it and I was very happy for Debra, until I was told that Debra instructed this other friend: “Whatever you do, don’t tell Cindy I got this job!” Debra had insinuated that because I hadn’t found full time work yet, it would just upset me to hear someone else’s good news.

Quite honestly, I find this very insulting! It implies so many negative character traits on my part- that I’m selfish and only want to hear good things if they apply to me; that I’m insecure and can’t handle hearing that someone else got a job when I couldn’t; that I’m just not a very good friend.

Now I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions?

Cindy Looper

Dear Cindy,

It sounds to me like your friend’s request was a misguided attempt to protect you. My suggestion is just say, “Hey I heard you finally landed a job. Congratulations!” and leave it at that. It’s what a generous, supportive friend would do; it’s good role modeling. It doesn’t matter whether your past behavior is in question or whether this is just your friend’s problem. Be consistent in your graciousness now and act like the friend you want to be, and voilà- you are that person.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I sense that there are some questions that your friend’s comment set off in your head, that’s why you are so uncomfortable with it. The fact that you have an insecure economic position can make you insecure on an emotional level too. In our society, we are taught to judge our worth by our productivity and our value by whether others value us. I think there’s a combination of factors here- your reaction to Debra’s words was colored by your admitted unhappiness over your work situation- on that level, it seems to confirm your worst fear- you’ll never find a good full-time job again. And on a personal level, it made you doubt your worth in your friend’s esteem. In short, it was all about you… and in a bad way. It’s time to re-direct your own history. As Dr. Brilliant pointed out, deliberately acting like the strong, confident and supportive person you want to be is a step in creating or reinforcing that person in a real way. Congratulate your friend, act like the bigger person; and that becomes part of your history and your mark as an individual. It’s really up to you.

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Another Pippin:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

After I dropped out of school I got caught for a petty crime- shoplifted some CD’s. Anyway, my parents got me into this “rehab” program so I could minimize
the impact of my pilfering. They feel like they’ve done their job, the state thinks I’m reforming and everyone’s happy. I’m supposed to go back to school and get my life on track.
Here’s the problem- I just don’t give a damn. I don’t give a crap about college. I just want to experience life before I lock myself into the prison I’ve watched my parents live in.

I feel like this is all a lie and I just want to run away from it. Any reason I shouldn’t?

Jane Reb

Dear Jane,

Yes- going to prison for real. You may be right, your parents live in a box; we all do in one way or another. But I think you have the wrong idea about freedom. Freedom isn’t getting to do whatever you want whenever you want. That is just a state of limbo as there is nothing to define you. There is no meaning if you live just the moment. With that type of existence, it’s as if you are the wind and you are only defined by the damage you leave behind after you have blown through.

A more valuable freedom lies in getting to choose what defines you. There is freedom in choosing the rules that support the walls of your individual box.

Perhaps your parents chose their children to define them. They probably worked 9-5, paid the mortgage and provided your basic needs so that you had the opportunity to go to school, play baseball and generally have a life. These walls, although invisible, provided the structure and consistency necessary to raise healthy children.

In rejecting any structure, you run the risk of having one imposed on you- for example, prison. You are not unique in your thinking. What people want is often determined by the culture they are trying to escape from; thus when they get what they want it isn’t really what they need. A word of caution- you think you are making judgments on facts when you’re really making them on pure feelings. I suggest that you go see the play Pippin; it is about someone asking the same question you are.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: if you want to experience life, and you want it to be a good experience, you are going to need more than a collection of adventures. You are going to need to be able to take care of yourself in the long run.

Going to college right after high school is not necessarily for everyone. It’s not a bad idea to take some time and see the world; many kids waste their time in college because they don’t know what they want to do. They spend their time partying rather than learning. There is no virtue in being an aimless academic with a hangover.

Just keep this in mind- if you don’t get a college degree, or at least some solid vocational education, you are going to be at a disadvantage wherever you go. A lack of qualifications builds the walls to a box you may never get out of. You won’t be qualified for the rewarding, better paying jobs- unless you happen to be extremely talented, well-connected AND lucky as hell. Most people aren’t.

Take some time off after high school if you want. Travel, get some practical experience. See what interests you, what you are drawn to. But don’t sell yourself short and try to wing it on your fabulous personality and youthful charm. If you get a degree and don’t want to use it, fine. But you will never regret earning one. That is a promise.

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Be careful of how you phrase it:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I am a therapist and this “medicate everything” model that is prevalent today drives me nuts. Everybody is on some prescription because everybody has some sort of symptom and that is all you need in order to be medicated. In school they called it the bug and drug approach to medicine.

I write today because I have a client who is a living example of this inability to escape the expectation of symptoms and medicating them. She has a normal IQ but is very concrete in her thinking. She is completely and utterly literal in her interpretation of language. She also believes literally everything she reads and if she has an ache, or pain, or uncomfortable emotion, she spends her day on the internet researching medical sites. She then goes to her doctors and announce: “I have spina bifida.” It would not occur to her to simply say “My back hurts,” and wait for an opinion.

She has been on tons of medication and in numerous psychiatric hospitals. Nothing has made the slightest difference except that she is coming to resemble a zombie.

Today I sat with her and we had a discussion about how she phrases things. By now I feel I know her well enough to believe that she isn’t hearing voices, any more than anyone else hears their inner voice. But being literal and being raised around the bible she interprets her thoughts as “Satan talks to me.” When pressed, she eventually arrives at concrete and fairly workable notions: “Do good for others,” and “Be kind.” But it is an arduous task to get her to come to the point. Socially, she has no concept how people are receiving her and people have NO idea what she is talking about.

Just today, she decided that a disc in her back had slipped and she would most certainly be paralyzed for life. In truth, the symptoms were probably just side effects from the thorazine and haldol given to her. Her doctors continue to medicate her symptoms and no one ever asks “WHY is she feeling this way?”

Her only real problem is probably receptive and expressive learning disorder.

Unfortunately her scenario is not uncommon.

Frustrated Provider

Dear Frustrated,

I feel for your client. In our medical system, you have to “get” some disease or dysfunction in order to go to a provider. This is the expectation of both the client and the doctor. Now that insurance companies limit doctor’s time, the big picture is bypassed in favor of symptom clusters, diagnosed disorders and medication. It takes a too much time and patience for a doctor to really see the big picture with any client. Insurance won’t allow for it.

If people knew what they really needed, and why, they wouldn’t go to therapists in the first place. Most people confuse what they want with what they need. The two are not often in sync. Your client knows what she wants, but has neither the education or understanding to know what she really needs. Learning new skills would probably help her far more than any medication.

A doctor and client need to reach a cooperative relationship. A client needs to advocate for themselves but at the same time a doctor should not be afraid to say “that might not be in your best interest.” Many doctors enable their patient’s misinformed habits. Medicine is an art but insurance doesn’t cover artistry, it just covers the diagnosis and the pills.

It is good you are working to teach your client to be a better advocate for herself. There are also professional patient advocates if needed.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I honestly blame capitalism for our current medical model. I spend a good part of my year in Taiwan, a country where the health system is set up as social medicine. People pay very little for their health care. No one can make money off of their continued dependence on the system, so there is more of a desire to re-construct people properly then send them on their way to be productive workers; the work ethic is very high here as well. In our country, the more dependent a patient is upon their doctor for continued prescriptions, repeated treatments, and crisis care, the better. Everybody gets their cut.

I spoke with a podiatrist who had traveled to Togo in Africa as part of a medical team. He is angry about the waste in this country. He told me that an insurance company will pay out a total of $5,000 for surgery every year to correct a recurring foot ailment that could be better alleviated with special shoes to correct the actual problem. The shoes would cost about $250, but the insurance company won’t cover them. Patients can’t afford the shoes so they get the free operation. Do the math on this and you will understand why health costs in this country are out of control and mental health problems and chronic disorders are still multiplying by the year.

I have absolutely no advice for you. You can’t change the system. You can only change what you do in your own office. If you have the guts to advocate in your local congress, you would be a huge help to the naturopathic physicians and other healers who are trying to help people through integrative health care.

Good luck.

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Romance is often just looking into the mirror:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

A friend and I have been having this ongoing conversation: what makes a good marriage?

He says marriage is a contract and a partnership built on mutual intent, and requires a plan.

I say that marriage is not just partnership because friends or business acquaintances can be partners but the tie between spouses is different. I think a marriage is a union where two people become one. Therefore, there are more obligations in a marriage. I think marriage must involve romance.

He says that romance is a fantasy that has more to do with the individual believing in their own ideal of a partner, rather than anything to do with reality. He says basing marriage on romance contributes to the failure of more than half of all relationships.

I say whether it is reality or not, people believe in romance and need it. Romance is what people yearn for. It gives them HOPE and something to strive for. Romance is beautiful…and shouldn’t we want our lives to be beautiful?

He says people need to use relationship skills in order to make a marriage work long term and fantasies have nothing to do with that. Fantasies can even impede learning anything new. He says our definitions of relationship are based on Disney and capitalism and not on universal truths. He thinks that what I describe is more art than reality.

Dr. Brilliant what do you say to this- which one of us is right?

Shakespeare in Love

Dear Shakespeare,

As is usual in arguments, both of you can be right. It depends whether you are talking about romantic gestures and not romance as the basis for a relationship. Romance as the foundation for marriage is like trying to win lotto based on instinct, or using denial to fit reality into fantasy version of something. Fantasy and denial are usually entirely one sided. It’s an artful interpretation that may or may not have anything to do with reality. Ideas of what romance is might be entirely different from one partner to the other. The real danger is that romance can be like just looking into the mirror.

I try to teach that relationships are only relationships if there is mutual intent, mutually agreed upon goals. I believe meaning comes from choice and intention otherwise there is no real point.

Having an intentional life philosophy can include romantic gestures because they can be used to show appreciation and respect. But a romantic life philosophy can act as a delusion, dealing in denial and expecting beasts and frogs to transform into princes. This is why the book and movie “50 Shades of Gray” is seen as a love story instead of as dysfunctional insanity.

Maybe you are one of the few relationship lotto winners in life and you actually found a mutual intent based relationship without having discussing plans and goals. You could have gotten lucky and just picked well. Most people aren’t that lucky and need to have a realistic conversation about their relationship goals if they want their marriage to last.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: this argument has been kicked around since the institute of marriage began. Dr. Brilliant is right when he says that both people can be right. But he is talking about an argument between friends. When it comes to marriage, there is only one point of view that can be right, and it is the one you both share. It doesn’t matter what that idea is. What matters is that you stay true to it to that shared vision. If such a rule is in place, even two hopeless romantics can make a long term relationship work. Here’s why.

The rules of romantic love say that the other person is your other half, your soul mate, and you probably have a great sex life as well. Such all-inclusive love requires that couples share their thoughts and feelings. If one or the other of the partners begins to lose the fantasy, or realize the other person doesn’t fit it, the respectful thing to do is to give that once beloved partner the gift of the truth, so that they can find their own happiness.

Obviously, a contract, intent driven marriage requires the same thing. It’s practical, it makes sense, it’s how business is done. But it is certainly not only practical people who deal ethically with each other.

I believe that marriages fall apart when couples betray their own original intent, whatever that intent might be. A romance based marriage with constant gestures of appreciation, could help two people weather many a world storm. An intent based relationship which requires constant conversation and negotiation, could also provide a sanctuary for both partners in a conflicted world.

However, once any partner, romantic or intent driven, betrays the original premise and goes off dealing with crap on their own without letting the other partner know, that’s when things fall apart. It doesn’t matter if the marriage is intent based or romance based. People with intent are just as capable of being selfish and messed up as romantic people. They just tend to be more self-righteous and have more rational explanations for it.

Bottom line- find a partner who wants what you do, and promise each other that if you ever change, you will be a sport and let the other person know so they at least have a chance to throw some perspective on the matter. Sometimes that’s all it takes. And sometimes marriages just break up because people are freakin’ bored with each other. Oh, and a word to Mr. Intent Based Marriage- nothing is more boring than an unemotional business deal that leaves no room for human longing and desire.

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It’s allergy Season:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I am suffering from allergies and this is all new to me. I didn’t grow up with allergies. My eyes burn. My nose is a faucet and I have headaches and fatigue. My doctor said it is a bad time for allergies with the climate all screwy. Lots of mold, pollen, and dust abound. What can I do? Nothing seems to help. Antihistamines just make me tired, decongestants make me crazy…acupuncture helped a bit but I am still really suffering.

Don’t Nose?

Dear Nose,

For symptom relief, try Butterbur. It is an herb that you can get it at most drugstores and it works as an anti-inflammatory, not an antihistamine, so it won’t make you tired. It helps headache too. But take a look at your life style- exhaustion and stress weaken your immune system. You may need to make some changes.

Stress releases a chemical called cortisol. It is a steroid that can suppress your immune system. Cortisol can cause steroid type side effects, from weight gain to feminizing the male of the species. Stress can also cause your immune system to get confused, causing allergies or even auto immune disorders.

Doctors are recommending probiotics these days because part of your immune system is related to the ratio to good and bad flora in your intestines.

Be careful of over the counter medications and supplements: Americans tend to think “more is better” but even more of a good thing is not often a good idea. For instance, vitamin E used to be considered great for everything from nail problems to skin color and texture. Now we know that if too much is taken you could die of early heart disease. Vitamin D is the current big fad but even that in high doses can cause heart disease.

Weight is a big issue in allergies too. The body functions better if its needs are being met, but over meeting them just tends to screw things up. Adipose tissue (fat) manufactures estrogen but too much of this estrogen is bad for your immune system and causes cells to grow; it needs to be in a good balance with ovarian estrogen or it can cause cancers. Men don’t have this particular protection.

Other home allergy remedies that help are exercise and orgasm. Both release norepinephrine which is what many asthma medications do. They also boost the immune system but you may not want to do both at the gym.

Also- eating local honey helps desensitize you to a lot of the environmental pollens.

Feel Better,

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I’ll add Vitamin C to the list- it’s a natural histamine suppressant. 3,000 mg a day is recommended during allergy season, but don’t take it all at once. Your body can’t retain Vitamin C and you will just get the trots, to put it politely. Take it in 500 mg doses regularly through the day instead. Stay away from chlorine in pools too! It worsens congestion. And it is very helpful to take a shower later in the day as well as in the morning, because you are probably walking around accumulating pollen all day long.

The pollen problem is only going to increase as CO2 levels go up. You are better off strengthening your own immune system than increasing your doses of medication. Decongestants in particular are hard on your heart, and with any medicine, you are only suppressing symptoms, it isn’t a cure.

A last note- oddly, some of the foods you eat can exacerbate symptoms- allergy sufferers often have antibodies in their systems that cause them to overreact to specific foods. If you are allergic to ragweed, your symptoms will worsen after eating bananas, melons, cucumber, or zucchini. If your problem is with tree pollen, apples, pears, peaches, hazelnuts, kiwi, carrots, or celery will cause your symptoms to accelerate. Watch how you feel after meals; it could provide you with clues.

Best of luck to you. Allergy season bites the Big One.

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Happiness is not the opposite of depression:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I am not happy. I don’t know if I was born unhappy or it came about as a result of growing up in an alcoholic family where you just never knew what was about to happen at any given moment. It fell to me to take care of my sister and mediate between mom and dad, who were like two tornadoes living under one roof. Things got better when I was 13- mom left and dad remarried someone sane. Since starting treatment myself I am no longer depressed but I was surprised and chagrined to find that the absence of depression wasn’t happiness! I just assumed when sadness dissipated I would feel happiness. This hasn’t been the case.

Not Happy


Dear Not,

Happiness is an emotion that usually happens as a result of an actual event or accomplishment. It doesn’t happen all by itself. It needs to be allowed to happen. Happiness is essentially the way you pay attention to things and become absorbed by them. It requires letting go, appreciating, melding.

Sometimes you might actually be happy but not know it because it isn’t what you expect when you think of the term happiness. “I blame this on the media. There, happiness is advertised as elation. In reality, happiness can be a far more subtle type of joy that involves peace of mind and contentment.” (1)

If we grow up in chaos we often try to control everything. This leaves us very little space to simply be- we can’t allow emotions to fill us because we are trying to keep all the crazy shit out. Such people tend to have an “all or nothing” perception which can be a barrier to happiness. As nothing is ever truly all good or perfect, the inability to accept imperfection can act as a filter to block the awareness of happiness, as can the expectation of imperfection.

Many people are happy because they are in denial; they believe what they want to and filter out all the bad. This works for a while but cannot last. If you are responsible for others, this tactic isn’t viable because your eyes need to be open to protect your loved ones.

You are no longer a child. You can say no. you do not need to be liked by everyone but you don’t need to be unlikable either. You do not need to be alone but you can survive the times you are alone. It is ok for you and others to be imperfect but you must not let those imperfections prevent you from being the person you wish to become. Healthcare professionals tend to label people as broken because this is the state of healthcare today. I wouldn’t accept that label- perhaps you are just not fully realized yet.


Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: when I was researching genetics, I discovered something very interesting. There is a genetic component to happiness; it has to do with optimism and pessimism. Research has discovered that there is a section of the oxytocin receptor gene that influences an individual’s tendency to see the glass as either half empty or half full. Those of us who are naturally optimistic tend to be more content and “happy” than those who are pessimistic and are always expecting something to go wrong.

That being said, this discovery paves the way for another thought- happiness does not lie outside of each person, but rather inside. Either we are grateful for, and appreciate all that comes to us…or we are like old curmudgeons sitting on our porches just waiting for kids to play on the lawn so we can yell at them to get off.

According to the media, happiness is designer clothes, a perfect face and a hot car. The fact is, at least half of the people in that hot car and designer clothes are wishing discontentedly for even better stuff and more plastic surgery- while the naturally content optimists would be just as happy taking the bus to the zoo.

We can make our own happiness- or we can be miserable in the midst of plenty. It’s all about the attitude. If you are genetically disposed to be pessimistic, don’t let it run your life. As adults, we can all make choices.


(1) Susan Hurd

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Banging my invisible drum

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché

He swaggered into the room, his lankly legs clad in tight frosted jeans with spotless high-top sneakers. His streaked hair covered his kohl lined eyes. This man was obviously gay! Maybe it was his purse?  His disdainful grin silently said “you’re an asshole.”

Turns out he only recently disclosed his gayness. Up until now, he has been trying to live the life he thought everyone wanted him to have; not that anyone ever told him. After many disappointing and shameful female relations he finally switched to men but he wouldn’t commit to any of them. He kept trying to find a way to make everyone else happy; not that they ever asked.


It’s difficult to imagine how his 3 failed suicide attempts, cutting , and the “you’re an idiot look”, might do this- but what the hey, he never asked anyone.

His lack of eye contact and  submissive posture suggested that he was trying to be invisible yet his exaggerated persona was like beating a loud drum: hey, I am gay!  It wasn’t like people didn’t notice, but as he never gives anyone permission to talk about it (he looks like he is always uncomfortable) people don’t talk about it. Instead they walk on eggshells around him. He interprets this as: “people treat me like a freak!” He does not see that his freakish behavior makes people respond to him as a freak.

He has been doing this for over 17 years. Outside of hitting him in the head with a mirrored shovel what can you do?



Dear Blame,

The single greatest mistake people make is believing that they know what other people are thinking. Then they base their own behavior on this false information, often inadvertently creating their worst possible scenario.

Even if people have an initial prejudice toward you, it is your reactions which confirm or deny that bias.  This is why self respect can elicit respect in others and why self-respect can lead to self-esteem. What you believe can change the behavior of other people. The technical name for this phenomenon is “I’m OK, you’re OK.”

This person you describe is doing the exact opposite. As he believes he is a freak he is forcing people to treat him as such. You have no real choice but to dislike him. This in turn justifies his hatred of himself and others.

This is a case of reverse narcissism. Rather than “I am the best,” it is “I am the worst.” Same result in the end.   It is all about him.

These are very difficult people to like, work with, or to live with. Do not take the blame or feel sorry for or guilty if you have one in your life. These are all manipulations.

DBT (dietetic behavioral treatment) and interpersonal therapy can be helpful.

Good luck,

Dr. Brilliant Cliché



Granny says: you should become a writer of B-rated movie scripts. Your imagination is just banal and sleazy enough that you could become very successful at it.

What on earth difference does it make to you how this guy is conducting himself? Are you married to him? Did he screw over your sister? No? Then ignore him if you don’t like him; and stop being such a judgmental prick.

You are imagining what YOU would be thinking if you were this guy. You have no idea what he’s thinking.

But here’s what I’m thinking: I hope someone hits YOU over the head with a mirrored shovel.

Now you don’t have to guess.

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He has another wife and another life:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;

I just discovered that my husband is, and has been, involved for quite some time with a woman in another city. He travels for business and spends at least a third of the year in Venezuela at his company’s main headquarters. It turns out that not only is he having an affair- he has a whole other life he has been maintaining for many years. This other woman is part of his business and social life, the same as I am here. She is now pregnant with their SECOND child! This is how I discovered what was going on- I found a bill from the GYN clinic in his pocket.

Aside from the sense of betrayal, I feel utter astonishment. The thing is that he is an excellent husband while he is home. He is attentive to both me and our son, he helps around the house, takes an interest in what I do, and is reasonable and responsible in the life we have built together. I have never heard even a hint that he has cheated on me here, and trust me, word nearly always gets out when something like that happens amongst my friends.

Here is my ultimate dilemma- I was completely happy before I learned the truth, and I almost wish I didn’t know. His time in Venezuela is so separate from our life here that it doesn’t touch it. If I didn’t lose face by everyone finding out, I would honestly rather live with things as they are than end what I have with him and go out alone with our son to build a new life. I don’t want a new life- I want the one I have. I just wish there wasn’t someone else sharing my husband with me.

I need some perspective on this. Can you help?


Sharon Unwillingly


Dear Sharon,

Inevitably you would have found out, even if only at the will when both you and the other wife showed up.  Your life is your choice to do with what you want. There is no right way to live it. The only problem here is that you can’t become unaware once you are aware; it will just drive you nuts.

You need to make a decision, but there is no immediate need to act.  Whatever you decide you need to make exigency plans, establish your own bank account and do whatever you need to insure your own security and that of your son. If you choose to stay there is no guarantee he will always come back from his other life.  You should definitely seek legal counsel as to what your rights are. Your marriage, or the other, might be illegal if he married this other woman too. Keep records, receipts, and proof.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché


Granny says: twenty years ago, I might have advised you to dump the bastard. The irony here though is that other than having another family, your husband isn’t a bastard at all. His treatment of you during the time he spends shows that in an isolated way, he respects and cares for you and feels duty towards the family.

Unfortunately, you are living in a glass house. Circumstances have been such so far that he has not been forced to choose between you and this other woman, or to reconsider his ties to you. But what if she became ill and he decided his first loyalty was to her? What if his other children had an exceptional need for him? Or his company asked him to transfer to Venezuela permanently? This is a world of change and uncertainty and anything could happen.

Seek legal counsel. Who is he is leaving his support to in his will? Are you better educated and does he consider you to be better able to support yourself after he is gone? Change your own will if you have one. Leave everything to your son. The legal aspects are of far more importance than the emotional ones in many ways, because feelings come and go but an estate is forever.

Quite honestly, I understand your reluctance to change. There are few good men out there, and he treats you very well when he is with you. But a man who is capable of such a great deception is capable of many other things. Keep in mind that the man you know may not necessarily be the man he really is.

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