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Unread 05-11-2014, 06:20 PM   #1
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Exclamation Trying to help younger brother with what may be a major psych issue

Hello, I'm new here, trying to find a solution to a problem that's been going on with my younger brother (stepbrother, actually).

He is 16 years old. For quite some time now there have been some issues with him. All around his room and in a spare closet upstairs, we find towels and blankets that he wipes feces on until there is no more room and then he stuffs them away. He hides them under the bed, stuffed in a drawer full of clothes that are otherwise clean, in his bathroom cabinets, everywhere. Recently my dad found two garbage bags completely full of towels and blankets with feces covering them. My brother will go into my parents' bathroom and steal their nice towels when he can no longer find any blankets and towels to do this on. Every year we need to buy an entire new set of pool towels because they disappear. Every spare piece of fabric that he does not think anyone will miss goes missing, only to be found weeks or months later covered in feces. I know it's been going on for quite some time and I've seen my dad do everything from talking to him about it to screaming. I have suggested multiple, multiple times that he takes my brother to see some sort of mental health professional but he refuses to do so. He is not the type that believes in any sort of psychotherapy. I am considering calling up the high school to talk to the counselor and tell him/her what's going on, but I am perhaps looking for some pointers on a) what is going on here and b) how to convince my dad that this is a really big problem that cannot be solved using the means he's already tried.
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Unread 05-11-2014, 10:31 PM   #2
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Heart Re: Trying to help younger brother with what may be a major psych issue

Hello Concerned: I'm not a mental health professional. So I can't really say much about what's going on here. You didn't say anything about other aspects of your brother's life. Is he in school? Does he have "normal" intelligence? (In other words, does he have any developmental disabilities?) Does he seem to understand what he's doing?

Your brother certainly does seem to have some complex psychological condition. Perhaps this is some type of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. There is a forum on PC called "Clyde's Corner". On this forum members can ask questions related to mental health issues for which they have been unable to find answers elsewhere. I would suggest you copy your post over to that Forum.

With regard to your father, I don't know how you get through to someone who, faced with this type of unusual behavior, still refuses to acknowledge there is a problem. I'm older now. But I can see something of myself in this situation. My parents also chose to ignore my odd behaviors & my father would resort to yelling, issuing ultimatums, & threatening physical violence when all else failed.

I don't know how old you are, or what your situation is, but I wonder if the best route might not be for you to get into some type of therapy if that would be possible. This situation has to be taking a toll on you as well. But, perhaps more importantly at this point, perhaps a therapist could help you to hatch a plan with regard to how to help your brother.

If you want to, I'd be glad to correspond further with regard to this situation. Feel free to P.M. me. I am going to see what, if any, additional info I can find on the internet with regard to this.
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Unread 05-12-2014, 11:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Trying to help younger brother with what may be a major psych issue

Thank you. He is of normal intelligence with no developmental disorders. He used to live with his mother before my dad got custody, and his mother was very neglectful, although I really don't know a lot about the situation...I am much older than him. Otherwise he appears to be completely normal, is involved in sports and school activities, has a lot of friends, etc. But there is no getting through to him on this issue. Every time it is brought up my brother has a few minutes of exploding and crying, and then within 5 minutes he is back to normal as if nothing happened, almost seems to not care at all that what he's doing is extremely abnormal.

The only thing I've found online that sounds the slightest bit familiar is encopresis, but it doesn't fit...what's going on here seems completely intentional, and he's way too old for this to just be considered "accidents." I really think this is part of a much deeper issue that cannot be ignored.
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Unread 05-12-2014, 01:22 PM   #4
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Default Re: Trying to help younger brother with what may be a major psych issue

Yes, from what I was able to glean from my internet search, the primary disorders that this type of thing would typically be associated with are Asperger's Syndrome & Autism. However, I also saw references to it possibly being related to Bi-polar depression, sexual abuse, & an extreme form of attention seeking. So, clearly this is something that would have to be assessed by a psychologist who has experience with this type of behavior.

By the way, I did wonder if there is any way to know if he is smearing the towels & sheets directly, or if he is smearing himself & then using the towels & sheets to wipe it off? I have no need to know the answer. But this might be of significance to a psychologist.

Also, by the way (& this may or may not be of concern to you) but did you know that the posts we write on PC are searchable on Google? I haven't tried this. But I understand that they are.

One additional thing I will say about this is that, from my perspective, your brother has a compulsion to do this. He cannot help himself. He cannot stop. His explosions & crying, when the subject comes up are a way of ending the discussion regarding something that he knows is weird & that he is probably highly embarrassed about but is powerless to control. From my perspective, I would doubt there is anything to be gained by trying to talk informally with him about this. All that is doing is causing him additional embarrassment & increasing his stress response. And, yes, it is certainly possible to lead 2 entirely separate lives. So, in school, he can have friends & be involved with sports, while at home he is engaging in what is generally considered to be unhealthy & bizarre behavior.

One additional thought I will offer is the possibility that he is harboring some (probably almost life-long) secret that is causing him major stress; & that the fecal smearing is a stress reliever for him. The types of secrets I have in mind would be something major such as sexual abuse or some type of Gender Identity Disorder. These types of major secrets can produce such intense long-term stress levels that behaviors such as you describe can become almost life-saving; because without the behavior the build-up of unremitting stress can be SO overwhelming that the alternative might be attempted suicide. Viewed from this perspective, the smearing behavior your brother is exhibiting may actually be a blessing of sorts... albeit one that would be best eliminated as quickly as possible.
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Unread 05-12-2014, 04:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Trying to help younger brother with what may be a major psych issue

He is lucky to have a sister like you who cares and wants to intervene! Especially when the parental figure refuses to do so.

Don't give up on him. I'm not quite sure what to suggest to you, but perhaps starting with his school counselor can help get the ball rolling.
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Unread 05-12-2014, 05:05 PM   #6
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Default Re: Trying to help younger brother with what may be a major psych issue

You need to speak with a counselor or the school principal at your brother's school ASAP.
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