Dealing with mental health is a bumpy experience for everyone. Even professionals who think they’ve seen it all can be surprised. Their days can include anything from jaw-dropping revelations to a patient biting them. Luckily for us, these therapists shared their most shocking experiences and strangest patients, and trust us, their stories are wild.
1. Family First
I was counseling a 13-year-old girl who had severe anxiety. At one of our sessions, she revealed that her stepfather was mistreating her. Immediately after our session ended, I called her mom and told her that I needed to call child protective services. The mom’s next words shocked me. She told me that CPS was already aware of the situation, it had first been reported when the patient was about seven years old. Mom was aware of what was happening and still stayed with the guy who was harming her daughter.
It was a complicated situation, and it wasn’t. How could she not do more to protect her daughter?! Sorry, lady… I’m judging.
2. Better Things To Do
I work in mental health and crisis management. A few years ago, I worked with a young person who had significant ongoing suicidal ideation and was dealing with a lot of emotional pain. I spent a lot of time with them, looking at de-escalation strategies and working out what their mental health management plan should be as they move forward. It was a high-pressure situation, but not too out of the ordinary for my line of work. Well, until I met this poor young person’s parents.
One of their parents came in so we could discuss what had been going on with their child. I had the child’s consent to discuss aspects of our sessions with the parent, of course. Midway through me trying to explain some of the child’s psychological issues and go through ways the parent could help, they said something that made my jaw drop.
They actually asked me, “I’m sorry to interrupt you, but is this going to take much longer? I have a show to go and watch?” All I can say is, I never judge my patients. I’ve never walked their path or viewed the world through their eyes. But the people around them who perpetuate their suffering through ignorance, malice, and selfishness, I judge them.
3. Never An Option
As the situation worsened here in the US, one of my most extroverted clients and I brainstormed ways to meet her social needs while remaining safe. Then she tested positive for Corona after sleeping with a group of people, which definitely wasn’t one of our ideas. I let out the deepest, most defeated sigh after I hung up the phone and ended that session.
4. Their Merry Way
My ex and I had broken up, but before we ended things, we booked a couple’s therapy appointment. Even though we were over, my ex still wanted to go to the appointment “for closure.” This was around the holidays, and she had been pressuring me to decide if I would be celebrating Christmas with her family. I was putting it off because I wasn’t sure. It would be weird since we weren’t together, but since she wanted to tell her family after the holidays, we’d have to pretend that we were still a couple. It was such a mess.
Anyway, when we were at our counseling session, my ex brought up the whole Christmas thing, saying she needed me to be there. I told her that was dumb, that I didn’t want to pretend to be together, and that the whole thing was messed up. Then my ex looked at the therapist and was like, “Obviously, I’m right. Don’t you agree?” The therapist laughed out loud, then went bright red and apologized for being unprofessional.
My ex still hates the therapist. I kept the therapist. I like her attitude, honestly.
5. Whose Behind The Wheel
I used to work in a psych hospital. You learn pretty quickly not to judge anyone especially when someone can go from being manic talking about hurting their dog for their waffles to being a completely “normal” person in no time. But I will never forget this one woman. This woman came in for depression and suicidal ideation.
She was drinking and driving with her 17-year-old son in the car. She crashed into a tree, and her son didn’t survive. He was from my town but was much younger than me, so I didn’t know him. When the woman came, she stayed in her room at first, but over the course of the week, she started coming into the common areas.
Then she made a bunch of friends and was loud and obnoxious. She met with her doctors, and they decided to give her a day pass to go to her son’s funeral. The day of funeral, she was laughing and joking with her new friends. She left for the day, and when she came back, I overheard that she’d skipped her son’s funeral.
Instead, she went to record a video of her and her new boyfriend hooking up. I know they say you never really know how someone grieves, but I really wanted to tell that woman to screw off.
6. Follow The Path
Not much shocks me and it’s hard to make me judge one of my patients. However, I will admit that I felt pretty judgmental when I opened the door to a new patient and they immediately threw a cup of pee and poo in my face. I tried to think objectively and keep my cool, but my brain just went, “what a jerk.” Not my best day on the job.
7. Impressive Intake
I saw a new therapist who specialized in addictions. He had been doing his job for decades at that point, so when I walked in, he could tell that I was into some heavy stuff. But after I told him my typical intake, he lost his cool. His jaw dropped and he actually went, “Holy moly, how are you even still alive?” I never had a therapist be so frank, but honestly, it was a fair question. I don’t know how I’m alive.
8. No Other Options
I was working at a rehabilitation center, and there was a client who checked in and was a self-proclaimed, “drug lord.” As we worked together, he told me about his history. During our conversation, he made a chilling revelation. He admitted to selling his sister into slavery. He forcibly injected her with sedatives and narcotics, and people, “taught her a lesson.”
He never shared what that meant. He told this story with a blank face, smiling only when he recalled the “good times,” which he referred to as times when he had enough substances to get through the day. I do not know where he is at now and honestly, I don’t want to. But this disturbing conversation with a horrible man did have a good side.
It inspired me to work with victims of human trafficking, because not only do they deal with the stigma of “selling their bodies,” they often manage addiction issues at the same time. People would honestly be floored if they knew how many people’s addictions started against their own will, when somebody forcibly gave them something.
9. Unhealthy Attachment
I work at a residential group home. We had a kid admitted four months prior who admitted in a family session that they had parasites. I felt incredulous. The mom went, “Oh yeah, our whole family has them. We don’t believe in getting rid of them since they’re part of our biological ecosystem,” and I was just dumbstruck.
We spent the next three weeks convincing the family it was an infectious disease concern as other residents had fecal eating behaviors and many other unsanitary issues that could cause a unit spread. It was three weeks of education, planning, and, worst of all, convincing the kid and mother that their IQ wouldn’t drop.
10. Always Pregnant, Never A Mother
I worked with a woman who would deliberately keep getting pregnant because she enjoyed the attention. Then, when she would have the baby, she would immediately dump them into the foster system or, in one case, just drop the baby off with a willing relative. She had already given birth to six kids when I met her.
11. Share Your Feelings
My therapist was at one point also my mother’s therapist. At first, he didn’t want to see me due to the conflict of interest. However, he felt bad for me because I had just received a harsh medical diagnosis and was reeling. I had met with him before so I felt more comfortable with him than somebody I did not know. When my mother moved to a different city and stopped seeing the therapist, he started to see me.
At our sessions, we talked about my mom a lot. I’m not going to give details, but my mom had recently done something really messed up. It basically ruined our relationship. When I told my therapist, he wasn’t surprised because of how well he knew her, so he believed me when I told him about how cruel she was. Though he was mindful to not reveal anything about his sessions with her, I got the sense that he understood that she was not a nice person (and that’s putting it lightly).
Anyway, my mother came back to the state a couple of months later, and I asked my therapist if he would be willing to mediate a conversation between her and I. He didn’t want to do it. At first, I was upset—until he explained it to me. He said that my mother is a narcissistic woman, and by then, he had learned a lot more about her from me.
He could not be a neutral party in the matter. He said, “I’ll be honest. I would be on your side, and we both know how upset that would make your mom, and I worry it would just lead to more mistreatment for you.” I had never heard him straight up call her that before, so it was kind of surprising and also very affirming.
12. Pick The Best Option
I was working with a child who had a severe mood disorder and had made both suicidal and homicidal threats and attempts. I was telling the parents that it did not seem like a good idea to buy the young kid a firearm…especially the week after the mother spent our session sharing her fears that the child would hurt her.
13. Shouldn’t See It Coming
There was a lady with several issues and a tragic childhood full of trauma. She ended up with a guy who severely mistreated her. She had a child. Her child meant the world to her. She took that kid wherever she went. Sadly, that meant that this poor kid had to watch his mother get hurt. One of her boyfriends even kept her in a cage. I can’t even imagine…
Thankfully, the mom got out and is now doing much better. But for that kid’s childhood, he already saw everything, and that kind of damage can’t be undone. It breaks my heart to see such a terrible cycle continue onto the next generation, especially when this kid was a complete innocent. The whole thing still makes me cry, even though I dealt with this case years ago.
14. Poor Treatment
When I worked in crisis management, I went to visit a client in the emergency room. Her boyfriend was a registered offender. Her mother and her best friend told her that if she was going to be with him, they weren’t going to have contact with her. The client’s mother had custody of her children and wouldn’t let her visit if she was with her boyfriend.
So the client said that after many fights with her boyfriend, she ended up in the ER feeling suicidal. This happened multiple times, usually every two weeks or so. While talking, she admitted that all of her problems were due to her boyfriend. But then, after talking about all this stuff, she insisted that she wasn’t going to leave him.
As a personal rule, I never tell anyone what to do. That’s not my job. My job is to outline the choices they have and go through the consequences of their choices. But that night in the emergency room was the first time that I wanted to break the rules, shake this girl, and tell her to leave her skeezy boyfriend YESTERDAY.
15. Permanent Defeat
I provided therapeutic services for people with brain injuries. I was trying to explain to a family that they needed to accept their son/brother as he was in the moment because, in all likelihood, he wasn’t going to get any better. The family was being unkind to him, calling him stupid, and generally being the worst version of family “support.”
The family said they would never accept him as he was and demanded that I arrange a brain transplant for him so that he could go back to the way he was before the accident. I didn’t react, but my student completely lost it and started laughing uncontrollably. She had to leave. That outraged the family, who demanded an explanation.
I literally had to explain to them, a group of adults, that first, brain transplants are not possible, and second, if a brain transplant was possible, that would mean putting a different person into their son’s body. They didn’t get it. Instead, they insisted I could do it and that I was just too lazy and dumb to try. I felt so sorry for that poor young man.
16. Wood Work In Class
My therapist used to work in a prison, and one day, they were working with the inmates on health education. They were teaching them how to properly use protection by practicing on, let’s say, suggestively shaped wooden implements. My therapist told me that at the end of the lesson, some of the pieces went missing. I didn’t ask more questions.
17. Smell My Wrath
I had a mother report that her child was having bathroom accidents suddenly and at home only. He’s a nine-year-old boy with no history of bathroom accidents or trauma. Training tells us this behavior could be a sign of a variety of things such as neglect, anxiety, PTSD, etc. So to start figuring out the cause, I spoke with his in-home behavioral specialist.
She was a clinician who helped the boy’s behavioral troubles and mental health issues, and worked with the family to make healthy routines. She called me and told me the real story. The boy was becoming very angry and spiteful with his parents for making him go back to school when they reopened this year. He wasn’t mentally troubled. He was mad.
It turned out that he went into his parent’s en suite bathroom, took his mother’s robe off the hook, threw it on the floor, took a giant dump on it, and hung it back up. He also peed inside her dresser drawer. I’m not going to lie. My jaw was dropped when I hung up the phone. I then laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my desk chair.
18. Problems Big And Small
I do judge my patients sometimes but never the patients with serious problems. I have a hard time being a good therapist for clients who have said, and unfortunately, these are real quotes, “I’m so upset my husband only lets me have $10k a month for shopping,” “My kid gets B grades, and I’m so upset,” and “I feel so depressed because my favorite TV show is off the air.” Yeah, you don’t have real problems.
19. Ill Willing
A woman who was the director of a group home came in, so that I could do an assessment on one of her clients. This particular client was being discharged from a 12-month stay at a state hospital. She had been in there for a terrible reason. She had stomped another girl in the face and caused serious brain damage—all because she thought the girl was going to “take her vape.”
Obviously, there was more than just that. This client also had severe schizophrenia and trauma history. She kept telling me that she didn’t care about anything and that she didn’t have to talk to me. When she started berating me, I said that I did not feel comfortable doing the assessment if she kept shouting. It was already a bad day, but it was about to get weird.
The group home director started saying that she was the girl’s temporary guardian (which is against a slew of regulations). Then the director kept cutting the client off, saying that we had to do this today or she’d be homeless. She also smelled like weed, had dilated pupils, and was speaking strangely. I started suspecting that the client wasn’t the only one with mental issues.
I got really uncomfortable when the client was talking about her symptoms, only for the director to interrupt and say that she heard voices in her head too. The entire thing was bizarre, and I looked into it just to verify and that person was indeed the director of a group home. Somehow, she was—but clearly, this lady needed help.
I ended up speaking to several colleagues and learning that many other people had made complaints about the director. She was currently being investigated. Looking back, I’m certain that she was exploiting my client in some way.
20. Keeping Us Down
I worked in a recovery center for families. We received a family where the mother had a diagnosis of BPD, dissociative disorder, and c-PTSD with domestic charges, battery charges, and previous addictions. She also had a couple of kids, so part of her program involved re-learning how to interact with her children and being a better mother.
Here I was working with this family fresh out of my masters and, in all honesty, I was way out of my league. One of the kids was basically what we would call the “channeler” in the family. They channeled all the anger, sadness, and rage from the mom onto everyone else. We tried talking to the mom about how she interacted with this child. It couldn’t have gone worse.
All communication between the family came in the form of screaming, grabbing, or restraining them, but mom could not grasp it. She was in trauma therapy but still was having difficulty processing. We were on a walk, and just out of nowhere the mom body-slammed that kid to the concrete floor, shocking my co-worker and I.
That was the moment when I judged my client. This kid was like six years old and just looked so scared and sad.
21. Imprisoned Pride
My wife is a therapist at the state correctional facility. The only thing for her that makes her judge someone is if they strike a nerve, usually because they remind her of an insecurity she has had to deal with in her own life. For example, one client, an addict, spouted off about how the whole world was against him and he did nothing wrong.
He started bragging, going on about all the amazing things he was going to do when he got out of the clink, and his whole attitude really rubbed her wrong. As she was telling me about the guy and how much she had trouble with him, I was like, “He sounds just like your brother.” Not to go into it, but her brother was not a great guy. After that, she realized why the client triggered her so much.
22. Man’s Worst Friend
I judged one of my clients when he admitted to hurting his neighbor’s dog with pellets just for fun. To make matters worse, he wasn’t just a random neighbor. He knew these people. He was actually dog sitting for them while they were away for vacation. The family came home to find a very sick dog, and when they took him to the vet, realized he was full of BB pellets. That one really upset me.
23. Need It To Live
After working with a client for two months on his substance use during inpatient treatment, I thought he was making real progress. He’d had a lot of real change talk and had started discussing his goals for the future. The next session he told me that the reason he had so many issues in his life wasn’t because of his habit, but his mother.
I listened and thought maybe something deep was about come out from his childhood or his relationship. Nope, I was so, so wrong. He said, “If my mom wasn’t so awful, I would be living in her house right now.” I asked why exactly she wouldn’t allow him to currently live with her, and he said, “because she won’t let me take hard stuff in the house.”
And he just kept going: “I don’t understand! That’s like telling her she can’t take her heart meds!” Internally, I was like, “Um what!? That substance will destroy you, and you are comparing that to your mom’s heart medications!? You were so far past this yesterday!” But what came out of my mouth was, “Okay, let’s explore that a little more.”
24. Obviously Oblivious
A gentleman sat down for the initial consultation and said, “I’ll get right to the point, Doc. I’ve been married five times. My question is, since I know I’m obviously not the problem, what does it take to find a decent woman in this world?” He said all this with no sense of humor, no hint of irony, nothing. He was completely serious.
25. Throwing Off My Game
I volunteered in a psychiatric hospital where we’d visit the patients and interact with them. One of the requirements was that we didn’t know what things they had done before being admitted to the facility. The idea was that the less we knew, the less we could judge them. Suffice to say, this was a high-security place and the people inside had some dark pasts.
One day, I was playing basketball with a group of about five residents when one of the guys stopped to say something mid-game. He came over to me quietly went, “I’m in here because I sedated my wife and kid before burning my house down, and then I pled insanity.” He sounded completely sincere and clear, and I have never had more intense goosebumps my whole life. He then yelled game on and continued to play like nothing had ever happened.
26. The Fault In Our Oops
One of my first jobs was in a residential treatment facility for kids under 18. There was one patient who had incredibly severe schizophrenia, but because he was only 15, he was too young to be officially diagnosed. Because he didn’t have an official diagnosis, he didn’t get the care he needed—and the results were brutal. Even though he was young, this kid was built like an absolute tank. He beat multiple adults for the tiniest reasons. He hurt one guy because his astrological sign wasn’t Aries. The guy needed full facial reconstruction after the attack.
Then there was the time during a community meeting when everyone smelled poo. The staff asked to speak with one kid, since he was known for having accidents. They excused him from the meeting and told him to go clean up. He avidly denied that he was the source of the smell. But then, as the kid started to walk to his room, a piece of poop fell out through his jeans. Wild times.
27. Picky And Choosy
In a first-semester class, the professor said to consider our values and share which clients, if any, we’d be uncomfortable serving. One classmate said, “gay people,” because he was personally disgusted by them. Another shared that her religious beliefs wouldn’t allow her to serve a client who was considering ending a pregnancy
The professor thanked them for their honesty, gently reminded them of their duties under the NASW ethics code, but ultimately validated their right to not serve certain clients stating that if they harbored implicit biases, they may do more harm than good. A year later at my internship, I had weekly one-on-one meetings with a client.
She had rejected all the other therapists she had met at the agency. I was told that I was a “perfect fit” for her, but never told why. When I met with the client, everything became clear—but in the worst way possible. She was a white supremacist, and I’m white. All the other therapists she’d met at the agency were either Latino or African American.
When the session ended, I set up a meeting with my on-site supervisor. I explained to her that I’d been assigned to counsel a white supremacist and that white supremacy was against my core values. As such, I explained, I could not continue working with her because I harbored such a fundamental disgust for her ideology.
I expected that, like those who shared in my first-year class, I would be thanked for my honesty, and the client would be reassigned. This was not the case. The pushback I received was significant, and I was told that I would have to serve her and that it’d be a “learning and growing” experience for me. I had no choice. If I wanted to keep my internship and complete my required hours, I had to do as they said.
It was an incredibly traumatic year.
28. Not Rhetorical
I once had to ask a client, “So you thought the best way to deal with your child’s anxiety was to buy an anti-psychotic prescription pill off the internet and grind it into their food without them knowing?”
29. Makes No Sense
I’m a behavioral therapist for autistic children. I don’t judge them for anything. But what did shock me once was when I worked with a seven-year-old child in the middle of a tantrum. I was sitting next to him because he had asked me to stay by his side and hold his hand. During his intense crying, he stopped for a second.
Then he asked, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I like this? Why am I so useless?” This kid was freaking smart. He could tell you pretty much anything about the solar system. I asked him one time very randomly, “Hey, how many kilometers is the earth away from Jupiter?” And this kid, without hesitation, gave me the answer.
I looked it up, and he was right. So, to hear him say that about himself broke my heart.
30. Twisted View
This one patient really got under my skin. He seriously injured his wife, denied it, and said she was lying about the entire thing. He later told me that they were having relationship problems. The reason for these problems? He felt like she wasn’t allowed to refuse him in bed because they were married. I later learned that the wife had to call the authorities on her husband because he refused to take no as an answer.
31. Hearing Voices
I’m a crisis worker. I was trying to de-escalate a teenaged girl experiencing suicidal ideation. She called her mom, and since I was right beside her, I heard their entire deranged conversation. Her mother was telling her to just do it, that her dad walked out when she was a baby because he didn’t love her, and that she didn’t care about her at all.
I felt completely shocked. Another time, when the girl was having a crisis, I had talked to the mother. She called from work and asked, in the sweetest voice possible, if her daughter was okay and if she could come down and support her. It took all my strength not to go off at that evil woman right then. I met the mother later and could barely look her in the eye.
32. Comes In Threes
I had a patient with a ton of personality issues early in my career. He had a very rocky marriage with a lot of infidelity on both sides. We were discussing how this had affected him over the years when he revealed a wild secret. It turns out that he borrowed money from his brother, but couldn’t pay him back. So my client and his wife agreed to go to bed with the brother to settle the debt.
Inside I was like “…what????” but I did my best to control my reaction. I don’t think I was very successful. After that, the patient kept testing my boundaries. Eventually, he went too far and I had to terminate our relationship and refer hm to someone else. But then, a month later, I was working with another patient who was also having self-esteem issues.
I could not believe it when he revealed that he and his wife had a threesome with his brother too. I think I did better at controlling my reaction this time, but what the heck, people!? Two patients in a month? I haven’t had that come up since, but I now still wonder what the prevalence is of people having threesomes with family members and their spouses.
33. Stay Out Of The Forest
I was an administrator for a terrible therapist. Most of my job was just scanning files. I came across one file where the patient’s only presenting concern was an absolutely paralyzing fear of squirrels. So, this person came bi-weekly, spent two hundred dollars an hour, all in an effort to correct his squirrel-phobia. That’s when I knew I’d never be a therapist.
34. Childish Ways
I helped a guy whose chief issue was loneliness. He had no friends, no relationship, standard stuff. But he refused to give any meaningful details about himself. He was 100% just a complete brick wall. I asked him about his hobbies, and he said he didn’t have any. So, I asked if he had past hobbies. He refused to talk about them. He claimed he was bullied by girls about them.
Okay, that’s fair, but I needed something, anything, to go on to get to know him as a person. I spent hours of my life trying to get him to open up about anything, and all he said is, “You won’t get anything out of me.” It was as if he was enjoying it. He did this with other volunteers at my clinic too. He kept complaining about loneliness, but when people tried to be his friend, he shut them out.
Since our sessions were over the phone, I always assumed the guy was either in high school or fresh out. Nope. He was in his 40s. He was still brooding over high school and refusing help to process and move on from it. I eventually had to ban him because of him guilt tripping our other volunteers. But yeah, he’s the one guy I am genuinely judgemental about. He is the reason his life sucks, and until he stops being obstinate with people extending him help, he will remain that way.
35. The Little Guy
I’ll never forget this one teenage patient. He calmly told me how he physically hurt and tossed around a little kid who lived in the neighborhood for no reason—and with no remorse. He only stopped because he worried that eventually, he’d get in trouble. I had to keep my poker face on and just document the interaction, but my son was in pre-school then, and the entire interaction shook me.
36. Cutting Ties
I used to be a professional counselor and worked mainly with children. One of the kids came to me after they tied up a younger child and doused them with gasoline. They never set the other child on fire—but not because they felt bad. It was because they were too young to figure out how to get the lighter to work. They were in an intense outpatient program.
In a week, this patient managed to manipulate the other children into getting in trouble. After one of his schemes, a kid was so badly hurt that they had to be hospitalized. I started searching for a new career that night. I am now a librarian where I get to use the things that I learned in counseling to help the general public with information to get professional help.
37. Sugary Sweet
I’m a behavior therapist, and one kid’s mom expressed a lot of concern that her daughter’s health issues might be stemming from diabetes. But then she continued to feed her kid cookies, ice cream, cupcakes, etc. for breakfast. Like if you are that concerned, maybe don’t give her six cookies as a side dish for her Frosted Flakes?
38. Misguided Confidence
A 20-something said, “You’re going to be proud of me!” one session. She said, “I paid a guy to put sugar in my ex-boyfriend’s motorcycle gas tank.” I said, “What made you think that would make me proud?” She said, “Because, I wanted him to cut his brake lines, but I heard you in my head and knew you’d be disappointed.”
39. Out Of State, Out Of Mind
I worked at a mental health agency and dealt with parents who were involved with child protective services. I had this one couple who needed to complete therapy and do psychological evaluations to prove they could care for their children and give them a safe home. After outlining the plan, the couple refused to do any of it.
Instead, they decided to abandon their children in foster care, move to another state where there wouldn’t be files about them, have some more kids, and start over. And that’s exactly what they did.
40. Getting Lucifer
A guy who was high on a cocktail of substances ran into a staff area, took the fire extinguisher off the wall, and began spraying it into the hallway, filling the place with white foam. Then he started shouting the lyrics to “Sympathy for the Devil.” It upset another patient who was awaiting admission for schizophrenia. He freaked out and started yelling “Satan! Satan is here!” and tried to run out of the front doors.
It’s the most chaotic situation I’ve ever experienced.
41. Worst Than Nails On A Chalkboard
One client bit and ate his fingernails so much that he stored his fingernails in a box, so he could snack on them later. It was nasty, but the patient was only nine, so I figured he’d grow out of it. Nope. Wrong. Then he told me something that made me want to puke. It turns out that when anybody in his family clipped their nails, they put it in his box.
So, when he’s eating nails from the box they could belong to his mother, father, or siblings. Yes, I’ve addressed the parents about enabling this behavior, but they refused to stop. To them, it’s normal.
42. Ominous Stance
I was working surveillance one night at a psych ward, keeping a close watch on a mentally ill patient. I was briefed before my shift that the patient had eaten one of the lightbulbs and really hurt a nurse. At around five in the morning, he woke up and saw me sitting there at the end of his bed. I said good morning, and he did not reply.
About 15 minutes of silence went by before he stood up, stared out the window, and said, “A person is most vulnerable while taking a dump.” I did not sit back down for the rest of my shift.
43. Keeping An Eye Out
I was working at a mental hospital when the other staff and I heard a loud scream from down the hall. We ran to check on it and saw blood all over a patient’s face and hand.The man had torn his own eyeball out. We tried to diffuse the situation and looked for the eyeball. We could not find it. Eventually, the patient told us where it was. To this day, I wish I didn’t know. It was in his stomach. He had eaten his own eyeball.
44. No Glocks Allowed
My client told me his family didn’t appreciate his interests. I asked what they were. He responded by enthusiastically telling me all about his glock collection, then proceeding to tell me that he was always carrying. He then placed one on the table in front of me and asked if that made me nervous. From then on, I made sure to always have access to a door and never put the client between the door and myself again–just to be safe.
45. Not Right At All
I had an adult client who was talking about an 11-year-old girl she knew. She said the girl had told her she was being abused by an older man. Most people would help that poor girl, but not my client. She went on and on about how the girl was flirting with the man. She said she was totally asking for it. She never acknowledged that this girl is 11 years old. She can’t consent to that stuff, never mind initiate it!
Sadly, the client had grown up in a dysfunctional environment and also experienced inappropriate behavior. She seemed to have internalized the idea that if young women are “promiscuous” then they deserve whatever they get. I tried challenging her multiple times, but it was part of a much bigger and more awful intractable framework.
46. Man Oh Man
I ran a men’s anger management group, and some of my clients had done incredibly terrible things to women. But over the weeks and months, I found ways to understand most of the clients, if not ways to rationalize what they had done. But there were two guys who always rubbed me wrong. One basically never spoke up in group. He would give one-word answers and just discuss how unfair the “system” was to him.
I worked really hard to open him up and find things to connect over, but he never opened up to me or the group. I didn’t know how to deal with him, and soon enough I didn’t have to. He left the group—but for an incredibly dark reason. He strangled his girlfriend and was sent behind bars for many years. She survived the attack, thankfully.
The other man left the group early, came in late, participated minimally, and likewise never wanted to open up. After discussing his attendance and saying I couldn’t give him credit if he didn’t stay for the whole session, he threatened my life. Oddly, I eventually moved into the apartment below him, completely without knowing he lived there. I had to listen to him scream at his girlfriend and break things while I called the authorities.
I try not to judge my clients and most of the time, it’s not a problem. In fact, I can usually find ways to admire and respect my clients, despite their past struggles. But not these two. They were just terrible. Maybe they’re redeemable, but redemption requires self-exploration, and both refused to do any the whole time I knew them.
47. Baby Steps
Early in my career, I had a patient who wanted help reconnecting with his wife, the same woman who shook their baby so hard that the poor infant passed. At the time, I was a young father of a newborn myself, and this patient (and his life choices)…they never really left me. I felt a deep loathing for his spouse and thought his need to keep seeing her was pathetic.
I tried to keep seeing him for three sessions, but after I met his spouse, I knew I couldn’t be their therapist anymore. I ended up handing the case over to my supervisor. It’s the only case I’ve handed off.
48. Lost Expenses
I’m a clinical psychologist and the case that has stayed with me over the years goes back to one simple question. I was in a therapy session with a five-year-old girl who said she didn’t want to see one of her parents because they “hadn’t paid child support.” Excuse me? What five-year-old knows, understands, or needs to be worried about child support? Clearly, one of the parents had manipulated their child to detest the other parent.
49. Figuring Out Why
I had a very troubled patient who was consensually sleeping with her own uncle. These were very wealthy, high-society type people. During our one-hour intake appointment, she went very in-depth about the relationship. It was the longest hour of my life. I’m taught not to judge my clients, but…that session weirded me out.
50. Baby’s First Attempted Chemical Lobotomy
So, I’m a therapist and I work with kids. The worst misdiagnosis was a family with a two-week-old who was convinced the baby had 1) anxiety—because he cries, 2) autism—little eye contact, and 3) bipolar disorder—because the baby would seem content then suddenly angry. I spent HOURS explaining child development, what these diagnoses mean, how they would present in kids.
I provided them with books, handouts, etc. They insisted on going to see my co-worker and a psychiatrist as I was surely lying to them. Even after meeting with the other two professionals, they still weren’t convinced. They requested psych meds from the doc.
51. Minors Must Be Accompanied
I was halfway through a counseling session with a couple with a four-month-old baby. I asked about the baby, and the mom said, “She’s in bed at home.” I said, “Ah, grandparents babysitting?” The dad went, “No, she is at home alone. Nothing can happen to her. We bought a special mattress. One where she can’t suffocate.”
At this point, my jaw was on the floor, and I was just staring at them for a couple of seconds. Then I asked how long it took them to get here. They told me about 15 minutes, so I said, “Alright, the session’s over. I want you guys to go home immediately and call me when you arrive. Please hurry. And never ever leave your baby alone!”