PDA

View Full Version : Psychological problems



Mr Flibble
02-17-2008, 06:40 PM
Anyone have an inkling of what sort of problems losing his father at an early age ( say about 8) would have on a boy as he grows up?

My character had this happen to him ( an his mother kinda went off the deep end after). Although he was fostered with close relatives, I'm sure this would have some far reaching impact on him. But as a) a woman, who would be affected differently by losing a father, and b) as my own Dad is alive and kicking, I'm not sure exactly how.

Any thoughts on how this might affect him? Trouble with women / emotional attachments? Or what other possibilities?

If anyone could help, I'd be grateful.

Appalachian Writer
02-17-2008, 07:02 PM
In the case of Sylvia Plath, she hated her father because he died, equating him with a Nazi, as I recall. Of course, Sylvia was female. In the case of a male, I would think there would be a strong sense of abandonment, and given the age, 8, a perpetual search for a male role-model. Boys with single mothers or in foster care after being a child of single mother are prime candidates for child molesters, who seek out the fatherless. Another possible outgrowth could be to blame the mother, thereby setting up a life-long dislike of women, possibly spawning a serial rapist or murderer should the mother have engaged in any kind of abuse, either emotional or physical. The child, considering the info provided, would have low self-esteem, have difficulty trusting others or be overly anxious to be accepted into groups, any groups. Abandonment issues would no doubt be a part of his everyday life, and as an adult, he might very well become an abusive domestic partner if those issues fomented a desire to control the other, appearing as stalker issues, etc. Most of these suggestions are in the extreme. Many young boys lose their fathers and mothers and grow up feeling bereft but lead relatively normal lives. They DO have low self-esteem and almost all carry some kind of guilt, whether they express it or not, feeling as if they could have done something to prevent whatever took their parents away.

AZ_Dawn
02-18-2008, 04:21 AM
There's always depression. Men's symptoms are somewhat different than women's, so you'll need to look into that. Hope this helps.

Forbidden Snowflake
02-18-2008, 04:25 AM
Doesn't neccessarily become depressed. If it works well and mother son relationship is good, he might be sad at some moments but otherwise would be ok.

Of course he could be angry etc. But for that the rest of the social environment would have to be bad too.

Mr Flibble
02-18-2008, 04:11 PM
Unfortunately his mum went a bit doolaly ( she spends her time waiting for the father to come home, completely convinced he's alive but just a bit late. Like eighteen years)

Thanks for the input.

HeronW
02-18-2008, 09:14 PM
The boy might blame himself for his father's death, he also might blame mom who's in deep denial.

CJFerguson
02-19-2008, 08:32 AM
Depends on a lot of stuff....what kind of "personality" does the kid have to begin with...is he a pretty resilient fellow, or prone to mental health problems. Does he deal with stress and adversity well?

Also if he stays with relatives...how does he interact with them? He may do okay if his relatives take him in as family.

I think you fairly well have "carte blanche" to have him come out however you want, so long as your provide the rationale. In the "real world" the outcomes would be high variable...anywhere from not a care in the world to blowing their head off.

JoNightshade
02-19-2008, 08:55 AM
I agree with the "depends." There are always many different factors feeding into people's reactions - the biggest one is probably just their own unique personality.

My husband's father died suddenly on my husband's first birthday. He was fatherless until his mother remarried when he was eight. He felt his "difference" very keenly when he was young and was relieved when his mom remarried just so he could have a father. I think some results in his adult life are that he doesn't have a very strong idea of what it is to be "male." He's definitely a guy, but he also crochets and bakes-- influences from his mother. It doesn't bother him to be percieved as "girly." When I first met him he was prone to depression and anxiety. He still has a good deal of social anxiety. I get the idea that his mom was very lonely, and he tried desperately to fill that empty role by being her comforter and joy. Even now that she's married and he is married, she is very attached to him.

I also have a female friend whose father was accidentally killed when we were about 11. As a teen, she obsessed over this (hard not to) and went looking for father figures in boyfriends. She would also periodically slide into silence and depression. She would react negatively and then refuse to apologize or communicate. You just had to let it slide. (She wasn't like this before.)

Hope this helps!

IceCreamEmpress
02-19-2008, 10:33 AM
Unfortunately his mum went a bit doolaly ( she spends her time waiting for the father to come home, completely convinced he's alive but just a bit late. Like eighteen years)


Having a delusional parent is a HUGE challenge in a child's life. Robert Crais did a great job of depicting the fatherless-son-of-a-delusional-mother in his private eye hero, Elvis Cole. The book that goes into this in the most detail is The Forgotten Man.

Shweta
02-19-2008, 11:25 AM
I am not speaking from experience, but I would guess that having a crazy mother would be at least as traumatic as not having a father, and at least as big an influence on his development...

Mr Flibble
02-19-2008, 02:26 PM
Depends on a lot of stuff....what kind of "personality" does the kid have to begin with...is he a pretty resilient fellow, or prone to mental health problems. Does he deal with stress and adversity well?

Hmm, quite well - he tends to be a quiet type, you know still waters etc. Internalises everything.


Also if he stays with relatives...how does he interact with them? He may do okay if his relatives take him in as family.

They took him in as family, and his uncle is a strong type, so no problems with the father figure.But....well he still feels a bit 'outside'


I think you fairly well have "carte blanche" to have him come out however you want, so long as your provide the rationale. In the "real world" the outcomes would be high variable...anywhere from not a care in the world to blowing their head off.

Haha! I shall have him go quite mad and wallop everyone! Ok, maybe not. I think I've got a good idea where this is going to go for him.

Pity my characters, oh pity them, for I screw with thier heads muchly!


THanks guys!

ink wench
02-19-2008, 08:18 PM
From not-quite-personal experience, my dad's father died from a brain tumor when my dad he was nine. I don't think it's had any lasting impact on my dad, so far as I can tell. What did have an impact is that all of my dad's male relatives, father included, died before 50. My dad was very convinced he would suffer the same fate and prepared for it when 50 neared. He's now in his 60s and still healthy. :) I would imagine the type of death would be important here.

From my little clinical psych knowledge, I imagine the mother's reaction (going loopy) would have far more of an impact on the character.

archetypewriting
02-22-2008, 09:55 AM
I'm a shrink, but you've gotten to many wonderful responses I think you'll be in good shape with what you've already gotten.

I can give you more info on this, though:


There's always depression. Men's symptoms are somewhat different than women's, so you'll need to look into that. Hope this helps.

Men's depression often looks like anger management problems -- that's why so many men end up in anger management! It has a lot to do with what's socially acceptable -- men are more likely to worry they'll be seen as "weak" if they cry or climb into a dark corner.

----

The major mediating factor, as a couple of people have mentioned, is how much support the kid gets after the death. Obviously his mother is no help and in fact is a bit of a hurt, but if he gets really great support from this family he's fostering with, he should grow up just fine.

But since you said he internalises a lot, it would make sense that he blames himself somehow for his father's death. (It doesn't have to be logical. Kids will think God is mad at them and that's why Daddy got in a car accident.)

How screwed up his mother is, as Shweta and Ink Wench mentioned, would probably have a lot more impact, overall, than Dad's death. Especially because she's not just loopy for a little while...she's an ongoing problem.

Of course, I suppose you could argue that if Mom's loopy, kid may have a biological predisposition toward loopiness. :) I mean, if Mom's hearing voices and acting really bizarre, that could be genetic. If she's just rotten at coping with loss, Kid's not going to know how to cope either (and will probably cope in the same poor ways she does) unless he gets guidance from his foster family.

CJFerguson summed it all up nicely. I think you have carte blanche as long as you make the problems lead naturally from one another.

Hope something in here is helpful!

Mr Flibble
02-22-2008, 05:27 PM
Thanks, that was so helpful!

I've got him at the moment hating to see his mum at all, because of misplaced guilt, and the fact he can't stand to remember how she was and what she is now. Also has trouble 'attaching' [articularly to women ( abandonment fears, as his mum effectively abandoned him emotionally)

I had a bit of an epiphany with him the other night, will this work?

I read somewhere that all kids go throuh a stage of 'magical thinking' ie, that they think if they wish something hard enough it comes true, usually getting over this by about 8-9. Also, that most little kids want to marry their opposite sex parent.

Sooo, I was thinking maybe as a little kid he wished his father wasn't around so he could marry his mum. And then it came true, and although his grown up self knows it wasn't him, he still feels a bit guilty, that it was his wish made his father die - and of course that's what made his mum go fruit loop.

I was also thinking it's going to make it really hard when he has to go to the woman he's in love with and tell her her fiance is dead because a) he was secretly hoping to get the fiance out of the way ( magic thinking again) and b) she might go doolaly like his mum.

Is this believable?

Skyraven
02-23-2008, 06:23 AM
Hi,

I work with foster kids and in June will have an MA in mental health counseling. Here are some things to consider. Hope this helps. :)


Thanks, that was so helpful!

I've got him at the moment hating to see his mum at all, because of misplaced guilt, and the fact he can't stand to remember how she was and what she is now. Also has trouble 'attaching' [articularly to women ( abandonment fears, as his mum effectively abandoned him emotionally). A child like this would have attachment issues period, with men and women. As the previous person answered (sorry don't recall the name), if the child is in a loving foster home and has the services he needs (ie talk or play therapy) then he would develop healthy attachments to people that care for him and that HE cares for.

I had a bit of an epiphany with him the other night, will this work?

I read somewhere that all kids go throuh a stage of 'magical thinking' ie, that they think if they wish something hard enough it comes true, usually getting over this by about 8-9. This magical thinking is true. It is part of their moral development. The fantasy thinking helps them with what hcan happen and what can't happen in real life.
Also, that most little kids want to marry their opposite sex parent. Wanting to be with the opposote sex parent occurs between ages 3 and 6, the Phallic stage (Freud). In this stage, children see the same-sex parent as a rival and the opposite sex parent as the love interest. By age 6 children should have resolved it. I would say it'd work if his father died when he was six and still had not resolved the conflict of seeing dad as a rival with mom as the love interest.

Sooo, I was thinking maybe as a little kid he wished his father wasn't around so he could marry his mum. And then it came true, and although his grown up self knows it wasn't him, he still feels a bit guilty, that it was his wish made his father die - and of course that's what made his mum go fruit loop. This could definitely be possible if the child is not really nurtured, but just provided for. If he still carried that and was not able to share it with a caring adult.

I was also thinking it's going to make it really hard when he has to go to the woman he's in love with and tell her her fiance is dead because a) he was secretly hoping to get the fiance out of the way ( magic thinking again) and b) she might go doolaly like his mum. Again, definitely possible if the above is not resolved.

Is this believable?

Shweta
02-23-2008, 06:29 AM
I'm very dubious about Freudian theories in general. They're treated as "proven" so often, but most of the basis for them has been disproven. Any evidence for this one within the last century?

Skyraven
02-23-2008, 06:52 AM
I'm very dubious about Freudian theories in general. They're treated as "proven" so often, but most of the basis for them has been disproven. Any evidence for this one within the last century?

Shweta, I totally understand about Freud. But, it is only one theory of several that discuss childhood development.
Erikson had 8 stages of development through the entire lifespan. For the 8 yr old MC, the death of his father and his mother's loopiness would definitely have an effect on how he relates to other kids and how outgoing he is overall. He could be very introverted as a result. Two of erikson's stages would apply - 1) Initiative versus guilt and Industry versus inferiority.
Piaget also had stages that like Freud's only go up to age 12 that describe cognitive development. Piaget's stage - Preconventional stage would apply to the MC. This stage happens from the time children start talking until age 7. The MC might be stuck in this stage (given that he's in magical thinking mode). In this stage children, have a difficulty measuring time and the magical thinking influences the child. The child would think that everyone else sees the world the way he does.

Thanks for adding that question. You just helped me study. :)

sky

Shweta
02-23-2008, 07:07 AM
Huh, interesting, I'd never have thought to consider a character stuck in a Piagettian stage. But I guess it could happen :)

And I'm always struck by the video data of how differently children think from adults. Definitely something to play with there.

Skyraven
02-23-2008, 07:09 AM
Shweta, I just wanted to ask...what are you in Denial about? HMMMM. ;)P

Shweta
02-23-2008, 07:18 AM
Shweta, I just wanted to ask...what are you in Denial about? HMMMM. ;)P

I could tell you, but I'd just end up denying it :)

Rolling Thunder
02-23-2008, 07:21 AM
Well, my father died when I was four. And I turned out fine.

*twitch twitch*

Gonna go play with sharp things now...

Seriously, in many cases an Uncle or, as in my situation, a grandfather steps in to cover the base. It really does depend upon an individual's circumstances so you could probably do what you like with the character depending on what type of plot you're working with.

padnar
02-23-2008, 08:57 AM
Hi
somebody told me Hitler hated jews
as his step mother was a jew and made his life miserable
so you can write in that manner
padma

Mr Flibble
02-23-2008, 01:42 PM
Ok, thanks guys. ( aside from confusing me with freud, dammit!)

Luckily for me (if not my MC) although he's been in a good foster home, no therapy :(. Because it's a mediaeval style fantasy, even someone like Freud hadn't stuck his oar in that pond yet.
No problems making him a few years younger either. Ohh goody this might work!

spike
02-23-2008, 05:35 PM
I was a foster parent for a number of years. One of the things I've noticed, particularly with boys, is that if a parent is dysfunctional, the child will take over the parenting role.

archetypewriting
03-10-2008, 06:39 AM
Sooo, I was thinking maybe as a little kid he wished his father wasn't around so he could marry his mum. And then it came true, and although his grown up self knows it wasn't him, he still feels a bit guilty, that it was his wish made his father die - and of course that's what made his mum go fruit loop.

I was also thinking it's going to make it really hard when he has to go to the woman he's in love with and tell her her fiance is dead because a) he was secretly hoping to get the fiance out of the way ( magic thinking again) and b) she might go doolaly like his mum.

Is this believable?

Sorry to be SO belated in responding. I actually couldn't find the thread. How embarrassing. I'm like one of those DUMB smart people. ;)

What you're talking about is an Oedipal complex, and while Freud was a little loopsy himself (he was hung up on his mother in a kinda creepy way), there is evidence that children attach differently to their opposite-sex parents, hanging on them and wanting to be Mommy's Helper or Daddy's Little Girl.

Typically the Oedipus Complex (or the Electra complex in girls) doesn't show up as specifically as you're talking about -- wanting to kill off the same-sex parent and marry the opposite-sex parent. It's more little behaviors and desires to impress the opposite sex parent.

At the same time, I really like your idea, and I think it will work just fine if you tweak the specificity -- just maybe your character wishes he had Mommy all to himself, because Daddy gets too much of her attention/love/whatever.

So when Daddy dies, he thinks that it was his wish that made it come true (a kind of Monkey's Paw irony, though I doubt the Kid would know the Monkey's Paw story ;)), and maybe he even thinks that Mum went loopy because he didn't do a good enough job after Daddy died.

And you're right, that could all contaminate his grown-up love life if he hasn't worked through those guilt feelings. I like it! :)

I could talk about some of the other wonderful comments folks have made -- Erikson's psychosocial stages, attachment theory -- now that I've re-found the thread, but I think I'll stop here in case you're long gone...

Carolyn (still finding her way around...)

CasualObserver
03-10-2008, 07:11 AM
I'm curious as to how responsible Mom is, loopiness aside. I mean, is there a home-cooked meal on the table in time for supper but she makes him eat alone because "she'll wait until Daddy gets home", or does suppertime come and go with Mom staring out the window and the little boy finally makes himself a sandwich? Kids can develop an overdone sense of responsibility to compensate for a (sometimes subconsciously acknowledged) lack of responsibility in a parent.

Mr Flibble
03-10-2008, 02:48 PM
Well she wouldn't have cooked a meal before she went nuts - they had servants :)

Bascially all she does is sit there staring out the window, waiting for him to come home. ( I was basing this on the local story of a woman whose fiance died in the war. She sat at the window for the next twenty years, thinking he would be coming home on leave any time now, wanting to be ready when he got there. I always liked to think she saw him walking up the path just before she died).


At the same time, I really like your idea, and I think it will work just fine if you tweak the specificity -- just maybe your character wishes he had Mommy all to himself, because Daddy gets too much of her attention/love/whatever.

So when Daddy dies, he thinks that it was his wish that made it come true (a kind of Monkey's Paw irony, though I doubt the Kid would know the Monkey's Paw story ), and maybe he even thinks that Mum went loopy because he didn't do a good enough job after Daddy died.


That's exactly the way it's going.

Skyraven
08-30-2008, 07:21 AM
I was a foster parent for a number of years. One of the things I've noticed, particularly with boys, is that if a parent is dysfunctional, the child will take over the parenting role.

I agree with you. Child is so worried about other siblings that he/she cannot think of themselves as children. I'm a socio-therapist for a large foster care agency and I have definitely known this to be true especially for the eldest child or even the favored child. Just wanted to share. :)