#81 – Diagnostic Distractions: When Someone You Love is NPD, MEM, ADHD, Bi-Polar, etc.

As surprising as it may sound, you shouldn’t tailor your boundary work to the diagnosis of a loved one. Working with hundreds of women over the years, I’ve found that women tend to be more focused on trying to figure out their loved one’s conditions and diagnoses, and that’s why I’m dedicating this episode to women.  In this episode you’ll learn why digging into a loved one’s labels and conditions is ultimately a distraction from boundary work, which always starts and ends with you and your reality.

Biggest Takeaways From Episode #81:

  • I believe that all of these labels and diagnoses are ultimately distractions, and focusing on them isn’t helpful when it comes to creating your limits, standards, and boundaries.
  • When we focus on researching diagnoses, it’s not just a waste of our time, but also outside of our circle of control.
  • All of this applies even if you’re a licensed physician or mental health treatment provider (even me)! It’s not within your circle of control to veer into someone else’s lane and try to diagnose what’s going on with someone close to you.

Highlights from Episode #81:

  • Vicki welcomes listeners to this episode that’s dedicated to women, and explains what she’ll cover. [00:39]
  • When it comes to setting boundaries, how can it not matter that your spouse has a diagnosed issue or condition? [03:57]
  • Vicki shares a couple of personal examples that illustrate her point about not spending your time figuring out a diagnosis. [07:55]
  • When you research various conditions too much, it’s easy to start believing that you have them, Vicki points out. [10:52]
  • We hear another reason why Vicki doesn’t recommend tailoring your boundary work to the diagnosis of a loved one. [13:32]

Links and Resources:


Hi, I'm Victoria!

I love guiding my clients on a journey of Returning to the authentic truth of who they are, Reclaiming what is theirs, and Receiving everything that is meant for them.


  1. Jan on February 5, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Dear Vicki, thank you for your excellent podcast series and work to help others live better lives and heal from betrayal.
    I was wondering about the topic of this podcast in relation to betraying partners being diagnosed with sex addiction but then refuting that diagnosis and treatment, instead saying that their behaviour is a symptom of their unhappiness with you (the betrayed partner). Also how to keep safe when adult children (in their 30’s) of the betrayed (mum) and not being the betrayer’s children, don’t believe their mum. Subsequently they maintain somewhat closely relations with the abuser even though he has now abandoned and replaced with a new partner. How does one stay safe in all this and hold onto ones truth without loosing everyone that is/was loved and cherished? Boundary setting can cause loved ones to leave. I don’t want to loose my children (and grandchildren) too.

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on February 13, 2020 at 9:36 am

      Jan, this sounds so painful to have a loved one who doesn’t want help, or when your adult children don’t believe you and stay close to the person who hurt you.

      I hear you are wondering how to stay in all this and hold on to your truth, given the reality that having limits or boundaries does sometimes result in being disconnected from loved ones. Is that right?

      My experience is that when I focus on my self-care, which includes setting limits or saying “I can’t” in certain situations, I am happier and more content with myself, with others, and with life. And when I relinquish control of others and accept that what they think, feel, and do is completely in their circle of control I’m also happier and more content. Doing otherwise causes me a lot of stress, unhappiness, and unnecessary conflict with others who, imho, are not doing what I think they should do! (Of course, I am not the expert on their life.) When I focus on my self-care and relinquish control of others, I find that it often creates more connection with others because they feel more comfortable with me than they did when I was trying to get them to see things the way I see them, or to behave in a certain way.

      How would it fit for you to accept their choices, focus on your self-care, and accept that your adult children are now the experts in their lives? I know from experience how challenging this is, and I also know it is more challenging (impossible) to cause others to do or act the way I wish they would.

  2. Sue Bell on February 11, 2020 at 4:09 pm

    This was so helpful to me. I have spent significant time diagnosing my husband as having asperger syndrome. And where did it get me. Nowhere. It didn’t cause him to change or even change much the way I related to him. So, back to go, the only one I can work on is me and my self care. Thanks

    • Vicki Tidwell Palmer on February 13, 2020 at 9:20 am

      Hi Sue, so glad this was helpful to you!

      I experience the same thing: when I focus on myself and what is in my circle of control, I am happier — and so is everyone around me :-).

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