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When it comes to families, conflict is nearly inevitable, but when you add the stress of a mental illness, it can divide even the closest knit household. Coni’s 18-year-old daughter, Katherine, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 12. Since then, her daughter’s behavior has been violent and erratic, and Coni says the chaos is tearing their family apart. Coni’s husband has threatened divorce, her oldest son has moved out, and her youngest daughter says her childhood was awful because of her older sister. The family thinks Katherine should be moved to a facility that can better serve her, but Coni says that is not an option. Learn what Dr. Phil says this family is doing wrong and how they can create a happy, peaceful household.

Find out what happened on the show.
Comments
Replied By: abbylane1111 on Oct 10, 2014, 5:50AM
(rerun on OWN)



Watching the show, and from the clips, I think I did see some mental illness or disablities in Katherine for sure. I'm really surprised Dr. Phil didn't see it. I am also very surprised Dr. Phil didn't offer to a complete work up for Katherine to accurately diagnosis her. I think that was so important here, why Dr. Phil, why Dr. Phil, didn't you get a work up on her?  Katherine should not be allowed to disrupt the home any longer no matter what the case should be, but the family does need to treat Katherine as a human being and help her.
 
Replied By: davewriter on Oct 3, 2010, 9:08PM
I may not have seen this episode, (I was doing volunteer work for the day) but speaking as a person with disabilities who has a somewhat limited education despite high ambitions, can those who are claiming Katherine’s condition to be an excuse as if it’s not real show a little bit of compassion here? If Katherine were born mentally retarded, as a result of Coni smoking, drinking or harming herself (or allowing the father of her baby to physically abuse her) while pregnant, for example, you would be singing a very different tune. What if the child can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t LEARN according to doctor’s diagnosis? Katinohio notwithstanding, I honestly don’t see how a mentally retarded can learn right from wrong and behave himself in public or otherwise. In this situation, I disagree with Dr. Phil that you should require them to do everything they can do – especially if the doctor says (seriously and mournfully, I might add) that he will be a vegetable. Sorry if this sounds ignorant on my part, but seriously, what in the heck could they possibly do for themselves? You simply cannot expect these children to surpass the limitations they may have, especially if they are many.

As far as discipline goes, it is my very humble opinion that if the doctors give you certain instructions and alternate techniques, then you need to follow them closely. That means, if they say no spanking and no yelling, then you need to present a calm mood in order to give them the proper alternative techniques. Popularly, they would recommend getting down to the child’s level and calmly using big people words (and perhaps short sentences) that s/he should NOT be doing these things. Redirect them to some more constructive and do it along with the child until they get into it. They’ll easily forget about what they’re not supposed to do. If you spank and yell at them (and don’t think I don’t know what you’re thinking here) and their only reaction is to scream and cry because they don’t understand why they’re being punished like this – and either continue or repeat the behaviour or plan something worse – then you seriously need to rethink your tactics. Much of the spanking in this case is either used as a stress reliever because the parents are in over their heads, or the parents are easily frustrated and/or showing their hatred towards special needs children. These parents will be kvetching to family and friends about how they were “obligated” to keep these kids for family purposes, and wish they never had them. Eventually, the children will question their self-worth and purpose in life, and make many attempts to seek love elsewhere. Oh yeah, and these kids need 24/7 round-the-clock care. If you need time for yourself (which is understandable) you need to leave them with a reliable caretaker who will follow yours and the doctor’s orders as prescribed.

Much of the time, these kids don’t respond well to harsh discipline techniques. After all, how can they ask for and crave discipline if they can’t even SAY THE WORD? And think about this – even if they can learn not to hurt others, they may very well have only one friend (if any) in their lives, because other kids will tease and taunt them about their conditions. Kids can be very cruel like that.

As to Coni’s family, I have some things to say about that. First, Katherine is eighteen, and Coni married Chris two years ago – that would make her sixteen. Did you meet Chris before or after her diagnosis? In any case, what the heck were you thinking bringing another man in the picture when you should’ve been concentrating on your children? Did you explain to Chris about her diagnosis, and did you try to explain about your techniques? I seriously think you should get rid of him if he’s going to complain about the dysfunction. The only way I would approve of this is if the child’s same-sex parent is not in the child’s life, and the custodial single parent truly thinks this would be beneficial (as in my C.O.P.S. fanfic dealing with this issue, “Valerie.”) In this case, Katherine has you, her mother, that should be enough. Seriously, parents who take on romantic partners simply because they need help controlling their children need to rethink their priorities, and Coni, I seriously do not think you needed to throw yourself into a relationship here. If I were a parent of a special needs child who could not fend for herself, and if I were suddenly single, I think a girlfriend/wife would be at the very bottom of my priority list for a good while. As for Ricky and Maggie, I think they are very spoiled and overly demanding if this is how they’re going to react to their sister. Were I in your footsteps, I would be after my normal kids to help me with the special needs one, in terms of learning and otherwise. Princess Maggie especially seems to be spoiled if she’s going to be whining about her “crappy” childhood as a result of dealing with her sister. Instead of whining, why don’t you think of some ways to help your mother around the house, and especially with Katherine? This needs to be encouraged, as taking care of a special needs child (especially very special needs) would be much easier if done as a family affair. If I had a sibling like Katherine, I would understand that my parents have a lot on their plate, so a relationship with them would have to be put on hold for the time being – and I would help out any way I could. At least it would teach me some things about responsibility. Maggie and Ricky, I hope this is hitting home for you!

Sorry if this sounds harsh and biting, but again I’ll say, children like Katherine (especially if they are mentally retarded) require lots of attention, and if everyone in the family would give a little piece of themselves to the child in this case, instead of wanting the child out of the house to a mental home which has a historical reputation of being places of torture (unless you can find a home that has suitable care standards) then the house would not be divided to begin with.
 
Replied By: ladyedie50 on Sep 20, 2010, 8:43AM - In reply to staciecat
No, you aren't alone in your feelings.  As I watched this episode of Dr. Phil, I was at first aghast at him saying that identifying a child as young as the age of 12 with Bipolar Disorder was rather rare and that he doesn't feel that her diagnosis is correct. I do understand that he would have to have done the evaluation himself to find a diagnosis but to say that its almost impossible to have someone so young with Bipolar Disorder floored me.  My son was diagnosed with BP when he was 7 years old and that's after he was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 3 1/2 years old.  Suffice it to say that at a very early age, he had such rage, a mean streak a mile wide, and the strength I never thought possible in someone so young.  How many 3 1/2 year olds do you know that get thrown out of his day care for threatening the staff and children with bodily harm and throwing furniture, toys and even a tricycle, which he threw over the playground fence just so another boy couldn't have it.  He sent a teacher to the hospital.  He was tested at Duke University and that's after he had been seen by as many doctors as I could take him to.  How many times did I get called a bad mother or that he's acting out because his father isn't around (his father wasn't there from birth, so what did that prove?).  I was also told that I just wanted to 'dope' my child up! I could go on and on but throughout that last 10 years (he's 17 1/2 now), we have seen any and everyone who could help us...from psychiatrists, therapists, a behvaviorial hospital, a year-long residential treatment facility, a group home, and even a juvenille court counselor.  He's been tested for Aspergers, doesn't have that but he has been told he has OCD, ODD, Anti-Social Disorder, a normal IQ, and with all of that, he's been led to believe he can do anything he wants to do at home because there are so many "rules" that DSS doesn't allow parents to have any more.  For example, at my place of business ( a group home for the developmentally disabled), he decided to pick a fight with me and was cursing at me when I was going to raise my hand to smack his mouth, the same treatment my mother would have given me if I had done the same to her.  Suffice it say, that his therapist told me that he could have had me up on charges for child abuse!!!  My son is over 6'2 and weighs over 380 lbs.  What's wrong with this picture?  I'm sorry to have gone on and on but it just irritates me that I can no longer do anything in my home that isn't focused on what HE ALONE wants.  He's not the one being emotionally and physically treated disrespectively...his younger brother and I are.  Are there no safeguards for us?  The answer we were given is 'not unless he physically attacks you', then the answer is no....So, we have 6 more months to when he turns 18 and that's the day that I can finally get my life and the life of my youngest son back.  Thanks for listening.
 
Replied By: darlenedawn on Sep 13, 2010, 6:09AM - In reply to mll1966
I totally agree!! My step-daughter has been the same way and I have been to blame for her behavior and hatefulness. As soon as the story started with the video and info on the family I was saying to the tv "You have got to be kidding me!!!  I have seen this behavior the past 5 years in my step-daughter ruling her dad and mom and trying to run our marriage bc of her jealousy!!!!"  I feel Dr Phil should have come right out and said it.  I feel he was beating around the bush about it.  He was trying to say, in not so many words, that she was NOT bipolar but a spoiled brat kid who is running the household by manipulating the whole family, especially the mom!!  The mom has enabled this kid totally then tries to blame her other kids for not being more understanding, etc.  The mom was not getting anything Dr Phil was trying to say and kept going back to blaming the (wrong) diagnosis of being bipolar.
 
Replied By: darlenedawn on Sep 13, 2010, 5:59AM
I watched this show and I do NOT think this girl is bipolar by any means.  She is just a spoiled brat kid who is manipulating her whole family and is running that household.  Bipolar is now just being used as an excuse for her behavior.  The mom wouldn't stop using it as an excuse for her behavior and to me I think Dr Phil was trying to make it clear, in not so many words, that he doesn't really think she is bipolar just is "the tail wagging the dog'!!!!!  The Mom definitely wasn't hearing him and listening to what he was saying.  I don't see anything changing with that family.   Unless the mom changes things and the way she responds to her daughter and stop enabling her then she is going to lose her other children completely.
 
Replied By: jollyjae on Sep 8, 2010, 2:29PM - In reply to staciecat
I am bipolar and my daughter (who is now an adult) is bipolar. The simplest way to say it is that spoiling a child is not effective no matter what mental or emotional disability may be active.  The 18 yr old girl of this episode has been spoiled and allowed to tantrum.  Your bleeding heart is a disservice to your child and will make your life and your childs life a lot worse than it has to be.  Strict discipline is the only way to survive this.  You can't cure it but you learn how to deal and live with it.  The parents need as much if not more discipline to stop the pity.  If you pity the child you make the disorder worse.  Accepting your part in this as a parent by not spoiling and pittying your child is where you start to build your life.  Undoing the damage already caused by spoiling is the hurdle.  Think of it like boot camp.  They go through several weeks of intensive training (basically they are broken down and then rebuilt to create a soldier).  You have to break the cycle: break the child's behavior and rebuild it.  No easy task but necessary.  You have to be stronger than the will of your child.
 
Replied By: staciecat on Sep 7, 2010, 11:04AM
I was disappointed when I watched this Dr. Phil episode. I have a 14 year old girl who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in April of this year.  We have about a 3-4 year run of things being very difficult with her. Dr. Phil said that someone cannot be diagnosed bipolar at this age but if she has all of the symptoms which she does how can that be??? He tried to blame it more on how she was being dealt with and disciplined than to even take into consideration the disease but I am here to tell you that your normal tools of dealing with a teenager are taken away on one with BD. How do you "discipline someone who rages?? How do you discipline someone who doesn't care what you take away no matter what?? I get so angry when I hear these types of answers because you cannnot force a BP teen to do almost anything because it will always get physical!!!!  She stays up almost every night until about 4am. How do you force a BP teen to sleep??? If we would make her go into her room she would just come out and get physical if we tried to make her stay. She hears voices and sees things that terrify her in her mind. They are not rational people and cannot be dealt with by the "normal" means!! Am I alone here?? Does anyone else share my frustration?????
 
Replied By: mll1966 on Sep 7, 2010, 8:00AM
Does no one else think it is funny that she is diagnosed with bi-polar about the same time her Mother marries her Step-Father.  The girl does not want her Mother to hug or be around her husband.  To me this is a case of a girl wanting all her Mothers attention and the Mother giving it to her.  Shame on mom for letting her get away with this and taking away from her other childrens accomplishments.
 
Replied By: motherof1plus2 on Sep 7, 2010, 7:36AM
ok i have had biploar scince the age of 9 and i  will be 20 in 2 weeks it is not something u can leave alone i have been on meds and in and out of hospitals for a long time but i have been hospital free for 3 almost 4 years ......i know my mom did not like putting me in the hospital but  she did it becuz she lovers me and her bipolar is not and excuce for anything
 
Replied By: alicejohnson on Sep 3, 2010, 5:07PM
 As I watched this episode, I began to feel how this family's situation has similarities in many family situations in which there is a major disagreement on parenting and disciplining children in both biological or blended families -- even without a diagnosed "illness" of one of the family members.  Whatever Katherine's illness or issues, she seems to have learned that she can manipulate her mother to protect her when she is behaving badly, thus getting what she wants (or doesn't want).  I'm sure with good intentions, the mother instead has probably exascerbated  and worsened the daughter's negative behaviors, creating a bully and manipulative now-grown child, and  helped break down the family by blaming the other family members for being insensitive or not caring enough when dealing with Katherine's issues.  She's doing Katherine a disservice allowing her to act unacceptably, while making excuses for her actions and blaming others for their insensitivity to Katherine's issues.  The mother is failing to instill accountability, responsibility, and civility in her child.  She is failng to teach katherine that her bad behavior results in certain consequences for which she needs to take responsibility , or for which she needs to accept the consequences.   She is giving Katherine power and control over the family instead teaching her what it is to be part of a family.   It's understandable that Katherine may have limitations, but giving her free reign to constantly hold a family hostage with tantrums and violent behavior to get what she wants or doesn't want, does not bold well for Katherine's future as a functioning adult in today's society, nor her family members' relationships with one another.   Having the mother feel she is the only one who understands or has the desire to do the right thing for Katherine, definitely would undermine any marriage or family.   Dealing with a martyr in another difficult dynamic.  I would guess that the each family member has at one time or another been blamed for causing Katherine's bad behavior.  I understand parenting is hard, but I think parents all too often do what seems the easiest way to make their kids happy at this very moment.  This family has a particulary difficult situation, but again, I can see this type of dysfunctional behavior affecting families in which there is no "illness" in one of the family members.  It was good to hear Dr. Phil says that all the family members' behaviors needed changing with a united front, and that more should be expected from and instilled in Katherine.  I can see how things will get more difficult before they get better.  It would be interesting to see a follow-up on this family 3 months from now.  I wish them luck.
 
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