Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

When Wives Attack

Doctors and nurse case manager have similar problems with patient_s wives.

It is quite common, and the reasons are multiple, and none of those reasons are positive:

a. The wife may have a pattern of never relinquishing control to another woman, and she sees his dependency upon you as a threat to her power base in that home.

b. His relationships with other women have always been a problem in this marriage, and as unbelievable as it may seem to you, she sees you as one more woman going after her husband.

c. The wife may have tolerated a great deal from this man over the years, and now that he is compromised, she takes over the control/power that she has long wanted.

d. The wife may have plans for what she feels will be the _settlement_ of this claim, and she wishes to insure that she controls that outcome.

e. To the wife, it may be far preferable to have a dependent and helpless husband rather than the one who has been so aggressive toward her

Often it is a combination of these factors which conspire to mobilize the wife to take control of her husband_s case.

Her filtering all communication, dictating care, and blocking direct interaction with the patient makes the patient increasingly passive, dependent and ultimately insures that he will receive suboptimal care.

There are two approaches:

1. I will be better able to assist your husband if I deal with him directly, and if this fails,

2. _your husband is the claimant, and I cannot meet his needs by communicating through you. To insure that his needs are met, I must communicate directly with him._

If you feel their relationship is particularly pathological, you may wish to have the patient psychologically evaluated with this _wife-involvement_ as one of you primary questions.

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