Psychologists Talk About The ‘Red Flag’ Patients Who Truly Terrified Them.
Instead of shaking my hand, he looked at it as if were a dead rat. I sat on the empty bed across from him.
“So, how are you?” I asked.
Hannibal just sat there staring at me. I wondered how long it would take for him to jump up from his bed and kill me.
“Do you think you might want to work with someone on a one-on-one basis?”
He just glared at me. I wondered how long it would take for me to get to the door and break it down with my fists.
“Well, Hannibal, it’s been a pleasure meeting you!” I lied. Then I left.
That evening, I had a graduate class in clinical work. I told our professor and the class about my experience with Hannibal.
My classmates were horrified! Most of them treated clients who suffered from disorders such as Acute Disappointments, Chronic Dissatisfaction and Unmet Expectation Disorder.
The professor listened to my story, and then said: “I want you to do me a favor. See him just one more time. But, this time, don’t feel pressured to draw him out. Say hi but then just sit there and wait for him to talk.”
So the following morning, I went back into Hannibal’s lair. I said hello, sat on the empty bed, and waited.
After about 20 seconds of awkward silence Hannibal frowned and said, “So, how are you doing?”
Within two weeks, he didn’t have to be locked up anymore. He and I began having our sessions while walking the hospital grounds twice a week. Thanks to the medication regimen and his new anger management skills, he was calm and stable enough to be released several months later.
I have never been afraid of another patient or client since.
6/8. I only had the experience of being truly afraid twice in my 40-year career. On the first occasion, a client told me that he was planning to shoot his wife with a gun that he had in the trunk of his car.
When I told him that I would have to warn his wife and call the police. He was very angry with me and left the office. This was after 5pm when most of the people in the other offices had left work, so the building was almost deserted. (continued…)