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How to Help a Hypochondriac

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My boyfriend of two years is a hypochondriac. Before we met and started dating he was, as he describes, full blown delusional and utterly convinced that he had non existent medical issues. Though he is much better than a few years ago, he periodically projects his delusions of non existent medical issues on to me, claiming that I have an eating disorder, etc. as well on to himself. He won’t seek professional help or counseling out of fear of humiliation and refuses medication (he can be very stubborn). How do I help someone going through something like this?

People have to decide if they need help and then decide if they want help. If he’s unwilling to seek help, that’s his choice. You will have a choice to make, too. You’ll have to decide if you want a partner who stubbornly refuses treatment for a curable problem. It’s good that he has improved but this issue continues to negatively impact his life and by extension yours. That is unfortunate because if he were open to treatment, it could be easily corrected.

Suggest that he seek help. Encourage him to do so. Ultimately it may come down to the pivotal issue of therapy. If he is unwilling to get therapy, the relationship may naturally terminate. When you have been adamant about his need for therapy and encouraged him as much as you can, at that point, the only choice you have is whether or not to end the relationship. But realize that if you do not end the relationship, under these circumstances, that is a choice you will have made. You would have, in essence, accepted his refusal of treatment. Should you stay, it would not be fair to resent his decision. You will have to accept him as he is, the person who knowingly has a problem but who refuses treatment.

Dating is an opportunity to determine compatibility. If you are okay with his choices, then you may have chosen correctly. If not, then he may not be a match and it might be time to move on. Good luck with your decision.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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