By On February 22nd, 2008

Why some friends won’t take advice

Some friends simply won’t take any advice. In some, this may be simply because they are hard headed. However, in others compulsions or other mental health issues may be at the center of their dilemma. According to Angela Wurtzel, a Santa Barbara psychotherapist, “These compulsions serve a purpose as a self-soothing or coping mechanism for deep psychological pain.” The fact is that these kinds of coping mechanisms develop over lengthy periods of time and people cannot convince even the closest of their friends to change in these situations; in fact, you may alienate yourself from your friend in the process of overbearingly trying to do so. In situations like these, what a friend may see as a problem with a simple solution may be much more complex for the individual to overcome. “A friend can offer support, but finding the reasons behind the behavior, and breaking down resistance? That’s a therapist’s job,” said Wurtzel. The following is an excerpt of an article from CNN.com that discusses the complexities of this issue:

“I told her I thought it was a mistake,” says Theresa. “So she kicked me out of her wedding party. We didn’t speak for six months.”

And the happy couple?

“Within a year, her husband left her for another man,” said Theresa, who asked that her full name not be used.

For Theresa, a medical receptionist in the Adirondacks, this was one more incident that followed a familiar pattern: Her friend picks the wrong man, and Theresa is left to pick up the pieces.

The final straw came when Theresa’s friend gave a different boyfriend power of attorney even though Theresa begged her not to.

“I just felt powerless,” says Theresa.

Such hard-to-control impulses cause behavior that is not only self-destructive but prompts frustration and anger among friends and family trying to lend a hand.

Roots of self-destructive behavior

“Nobody wants to watch someone they love hurt themselves,” says Angela Wurtzel, a psychotherapist in Santa Barbara, California, specializing in “hunger diseases” like eating disorders, self-injury and compulsive shopping.

But in almost all cases, she warns, trying to help will backfire.

What a well-intentioned friend may see as a clear-cut problem with an obvious solution — an anorexic should eat more, for example, or a compulsive shopper should cut up the credit card — is something far more complex.

Click here to read the rest of this article from CNN.com

Click here for information on the treatment of compulsive behaviors

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