Social Cancer:

Dear Dr. Brilliant;

Last October I loaned my brother $450 to cover the cost of a medical test. I told him in no uncertain terms that the money was coming out of my daughter Leah’s 2013-14 tuition account and the loan MUST be repaid by May when the bill was due. He agreed and I gave him the loan.

In April, I called my brother to remind him. His exact words to me were, “No problem.You can pick it up anytime.” We made arrangements to meet. But much to my dismay, when we met up he said he didn’t have any money and it was all gone!
I was astounded. I asked him what happened. He just shrugged it off as if it was of no consequence.

I didn’t want to create a drama, so I just very diplomatically told him that I really needed the money ASAP. He couldn’t think of a way to pay it back in time and said he would have to take it from my father’s bank account. Dad didn’t deserve that, I told him so, and asked him to try his best.

In September, I got two messages on my phone from my brother, then a snotty voice message accusing me of ignoring him- I hadn’t checked my cell phone and didn’t even know. I was so put off by his attitude that I just couldn’t speak to him at that moment. Then we got into a mess of phone tag and missed calls, while tension built.

Today, I finally sent him an email saying that I was really upset and disappointed about the loan default and his outright insolence over it. I told him that until he repaid the loan I’d like to keep a distance and that I expected a check for $450 asap.

Part of me thought that he might get pissed off about my email, but part of me was kind of hoping that the least he would do was apologize. This is the response I got:

“Screw you! STRONG detailed message to follow”.
Any thoughts on this? What do I do with this piece of work?

Lana DeFault

Dear Lana,

Callous disregard, blaming, and the inability to see the effect one has on others, are the behaviors of addiction. It makes no difference whether your brother is gambling, on drugs, or involved in some other addictive behavior.

He is blaming you instead of addressing the issues and his own behavior. He is unaware of the consequences he has on others. This makes him dangerous to be around. He is inconsistent, manipulative and self-serving. There is no way to make sense of, appease or rectify this kind of behavior. It is just toxic to anyone who might care about him. Behaviors like this function like a social cancer digging deep into loved ones psyche via guilt, duty, and compassion- then sucking the life force out of them.

Neither your love, your forgiveness or anything else you do will penetrate his thinking.

The best you can do for him is just walk away. No contact.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: Everyone has someone like this in their family and too many of us waste a lot of time and money thinking it is up to us to be responsible because they just can’t be. This is called enabling, and it makes it possible for them to continue their irresponsible ways. It would be better to let the guy hit bottom and face reality.

Dr. Brilliant is right. He may be your brother but he’s still toxic and dangerous. I trust you’ll never make this mistake again. Just walk away!


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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7 Responses to Social Cancer:

  1. I have the same situation in my family. I have struggled for years with this type of behavior in 2 family members. What has further complicated the situation is other family members telling me that I must forgive them because I am a Christian. The selfishness and absolute disrespect that emanates from these two men has made me choose to keep myself and my children away from them. There is no remorse in them unless it serves their needs. How can you keep a family together when common sense is blurred by religion? I don’t believe god wants me to serve up my children or myself to be hurt and abused. ???

    • Dear moogarosenMelissa,

      This is an excellent question worthy of a blog in and of itself. The question of forgiveness!
      In a nut shell “common sense always applies.” The safety and stability of your immediate family overrides anyone else’s opinions. But I will address this question in more depth in a new blog.
      Thank you for sharing.

      Dr. Brilliant Cliché

  2. Forgive but NOT Forget says:

    I don’t see your brother as being dangerous, but he is manipulative and self-serving. He doesn’t appreciate what you did for him.
    My husband has two brothers who are like your brother. We gave them money because we felt bad for them and their situation. We didn’t get a thank you or anything. They took the money as though they deserved it. Family or no family, you need to cut ties with people like your brother. He is jealous of you and of the things you have. Even as a true Christian, If you continue to give him money, you are enabling him. Whether you believe it or not, he respects you less. What you need to do is “tough love”. You are doing the right thing by not communicating with him, he can’t ask you for more money and he will have to survive on his own.
    If other members of your family criticize you and tell you to forgive or continue to help him, you should tell them to help him themselves.
    The ultimate lesson here is, when you lend people money, don’t expect it back and don’t give money that you can’t afford!

    • Dear Forgive but NOT Forget,

      Excellent points. I agree one should never gamble (that includes lending) that what you cannot risk to lose i.e. your daughters tuition. But if you can tolerate the loss should you not expect it back? Why not? You lend your neighbor your drill shouldn’t you expect it back? I would clarify then; if you know someone’s negative track record don’t give unless it’s a pure gift. I.E. say no to your unreliable neighbors request unless you plan on gifting him the drill.
      Say no to your brother unless you plan on gifting him the money.
      As a gift then there is no expectations and then no negativity.

      The caveat to this advice is everyone has a different tolerance as to what one is willing to accept as a loss. My wife has lent her car to people. I couldn’t tolerate the insurance hike if someone racked up my car so I would never lend it.

      Dr. Brilliant Cliché

  3. S.H. sent in a comment:

    Its time they both grew up and stop whining. If you agree to give when someone is flat broke and sick needing medical tests, then there is going to be a lot to complexity to follow. The brother is immature and handling things irresponsibly not being accountable for his actions or behavior and misdirecting his inability to pay for whatever reasons blaming his sister. No matter of the brother’s poor behavior and attitude, lack of gratitude, the sister needs to realize when you give to someone flat broke its is her choice and it may be a long time to get it back if ever. She gave under conditions which backfired as often does in such circumstances and sets them both up. Classic co-dependent behaviors on both happenings and they both need to be accountable for their actions and attitudes and judgments they pass onto each other.

  4. Ken Bryant says:

    Hi Lana,
    Your brother truly is addicted and manipulative. But that’s beside the point. He could be a saint and it wouldn’t make a difference. You don’t mix money and family. Aside from that, he’s your brother and there are two important attitudes. First, you love him unconditionally. That means you’re there to listen to him no matter what. Second, you provide a “safe haven zone” that he can always return to. What is this safe haven? It is an attitude you have about your life, sanity, and sense of values. It is a place you live where people may enter, but they can not alter it. Think of it as your house. There are certain things you don’t allow to happen in your house, like not letting strangers sleep over or having illegal drugs on the premises. Your safe haven doesn’t have to be made of walls and floors. Its simply a boundary you have every right to establish containing what the rules are for anyone who wants to enter. You are the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of your safe haven.

  5. Dear ken,
    Besides the point?
    Lana do not let guilt manipulate you. Brother smother, if he violates the rules of “your safe haven” kick his ass out!

    Dr. Brilliant Cliché

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