Shannon, 24, says two years ago, her ex-boyfriend stabbed her multiple times, and she feels betrayed by her mother, Diane, because she didn’t visit her in the hospital. Can they make peace with the past and fix their relationship? Plus, Kasey says she wants her 24-year-old son to stop living at home and playing video games all the time — but is she part of the problem? Dr. Phil enlists the help of best-selling author and psychologist Dr. Art Markman to help this mother and son start fresh.
A Family Divided
In January 2011, Shannon says she became involved with an older man, Sam, and quickly moved in with him. She says she later found out that he was on parole for a murder conviction — but insists that she never thought he was a danger. Then, on August 29, 2011, Shannon says she survived a brutal attack that she’ll never forget. “I made Sam upset. When I walked out of the door, I turned around, and he just started hitting me,” she recalls. “He was saying, ‘I’m going to kill you. You’re not going to send me back to prison.'” Shannon says that Sam stabbed her nine times in the face, hands and arms with a butcher knife before his sister intervened. She recalls that when she was in the hospital, a police officer told her that the knife broke in half during the attack — and said that was likely the reason she survived.
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Shannon confides that she feels betrayed by her family, including her mother, Diane, because they didn’t visit her in the hospital. “My mother’s excuse for not coming was that she had a job, she had priorities she needed to take care of, and she couldn’t leave,” Shannon says. “I should have been a bigger priority than my mother’s job,” she insists. “I feel like I was victimized by Sam and also victimized by my family.”
Diane maintains that she feels Shannon is partially to blame for what happened to her. “My daughter was attacked by a convicted murderer, and I think it’s partly her fault, because she put herself in that position,” she says. She explains that her many obligations at home, as well as a recent heart surgery, prevented her from flying to be with Shannon. “If I had the doctor calling me saying, ‘She’s hurt. It’s life-threatening,’ then, yes, I would have been there like there was no tomorrow,” Diane says. “It was awful, but it wasn’t a life-and-death situation.” She insists that Shannon should be mad at herself and her choices — but has no right to be mad at her family. “Nobody is doing this to you, but you, Shannon, so you need to grow up,” she says.
Shannon and Diane reunite for the first time in nearly two years. “You walked right past her and sat down like she wasn’t here.”
Shannon and Diane face off, and Dr. Phil intervenes: “This is so not working.”
Diane says that after Shannon was treated and discharged from the hospital, she asked her daughter to come home — and even offered to pay for the flight.
“I’m your mother, and I gave you a plane ticket to come home, where you were safe,” she says to Shannon. “Now what’s your excuse?”
“I was stabbed. Why do I have to come to you?” Shannon responds, through tears.
“Because you still had legs to walk, and they stitched you up, and you were ready to come,” Diane replies. “You got out three days later.” She adds, “You can’t blame me for your actions. I don’t see how I hurt you … All I said was, ‘Baby, come home.’ And you’re still not there.”
“Drama Queen” Shannon?
Shannon’s sister, Dee, claims that Shannon is a “drama queen” and is blowing the severity of the attack way out of proportion. “She put on Facebook that she’d been stabbed 16 times and was on her deathbed,” Dee says. “She didn’t almost die, and I wouldn’t call it ‘stabbed’ 16 times — maybe ‘cut’ 16 times.” She adds, “I tried to explain to her: Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Go be a motivational speaker. Turn this into something good, rather than feeling sorry for yourself or blaming everyone else.”
“I got stabbed, and for you to say those were cuts … You’ve seen the knife.”
Dr. Phil asks Diane about a comment she made to the producers about why she didn’t visit Shannon after the attack. “This statement is attributed to you: ‘I don’t know who he is or who he knows. I don’t know if he’d send someone to finish her off, and then I’d be there.'”
Diane admits that she made the remark and insists, “That’s why I wanted her to come home.” She adds, “I want to know why she’s blaming me for what happened, when she had a way out.”
“I don’t think she’s blaming you for what happened,” Dr. Phil replies. “I think she felt like, ‘I’m a daughter. I have a family. I’ve been attacked by a convicted murderer. He was hacking at me with a knife. I’m all cut up and in the hospital. I reach out and notify my family, and no one shows up.’ I mean, that’s kind of hurtful, right?”
“You’re in the one percent of mothers who wouldn’t go to their child if someone tried to murder them.” Plus, Dr. Phil offers advice for moving forward.
Dr. Phil says that Shannon could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or an anxiety condition related to the attack. “I think you feel very alone right now, and that’s one of the things that people experiencing anxiety and depression sometimes feel,” he explains. He offers to make professional help available to help Shannon to help her cope with her feelings, and she accepts. Dr. Phil adds that Diane might need to be a part of Shannon’s treatment at some point, and he encourages her to support her daughter fully.
Addicted to Gaming?
Kasey says that she’s fed up with her 24-year-old son, Jason, who is still living at home, never went to college and can’t even drive a car, because he won’t get his license. She says that to make matters worse, Jason plays video games all day and night — and is often too tired after marathon gaming sessions to go to his job at her boyfriend, Brian’s, company. “Rather than argue with him, I’ll say, ‘That’s fine. You just stay home,'” Kasey says. She adds that whenever she tries to talk to Jason about college, he gets upset, so she gives up. “I have not been very good at preparing Jason for the world,” she admits. “I have enabled him in many ways.”
Jason insists that he doesn’t think he has a gaming problem, though he admits that he has gamed for as long as 25 to 30 hours straight. “My mom wants to be able to blame something for why my life isn’t moving forward, and I believe that gaming is the thing she wants to pin it on,” he says. Jason admits that he lacks motivation but says that he blames his mother, because she has always done everything for him. “She wants me to go and be on my own, but at the same time, she loves having me around,” he says.
“When Jason first came back to live with us, he regressed back to the equivalent of a 13-year-old, and Kasey also regressed,” Brian agrees. He says that Kasey has no problem chauffeuring Jason around and catering to his every need. “He’s unequipped to go out on his own,” Brian insists, adding that if Jason worked for anyone else, he would have been fired a long time ago. “He’s not paying. He’s not contributing. He has a pretty good life,” Brian says. “The question we have is: How do you get him beyond that and out into the real world?”
“You allow him to behave this way so that you’re not inconvenienced with a confrontation. That’s selfish.”
“It’s a sad situation. I’m absolutely stuck right now,” Jason admits. He says that he would love to be more independent, but he doesn’t earn enough money to be able to afford his own apartment. “It’s the practice of futility, really,” he says, adding, “Guidance would be the best possible thing to get me from where I am to where I want to be, as a successful person in society.”
Dr. Phil introduces Dr. Art Markman, a psychologist and member of the Dr. Phil
advisory board, who is the author of the new book Smart Change: Five Tools to Create Sustainable Habits in Yourself and Others
Dr. Markman challenges Jason to start small and tackle one task at a time — beginning with getting his driver’s license.
“It’s time to get specific, and it’s time to hold his feet to the fire on the things that you require,” Dr. Phil tells Kasey. “Don’t overwhelm him,” he continues. “Get his driver’s license. Then add him to insurance and make him pay for that. He needs to be paying you rent. He needs to understand that nobody gets a free ride here.”
Dr. Markman explains that his book comes with a journaling tool, which he encourages Jason to use to make a specific plan for what he wants to accomplish.
“Your job is to hold him accountable for that,” Dr. Markman says to Kasey.
Both Jason and Kasey agree to commit to making a fresh start — and getting Jason on the road to independence.