"Katherine is my stepdaughter," says Chris, Coni's husband of two years. "In my opinion, Katherine brings complete dysfunction to the house. When Katherine is angry, she screams, yells, cusses, says that she hates me, she wishes I wasn't her father."
"My sister, her behavior can be very disruptive," says Ricky, 22. "If I walk into the house, and I hear Katherine yelling, I will walk right back out." Ricky has recently moved out.
"I had a really crappy childhood because of Katherine," says 16-year-old Maggie. "Every single day, she is prodding me and yelling at me."
"She constantly verbally abuses everyone," Coni says.
"My house feels like a prison to me," Chris says. "I basically have to lock myself in my man cave as soon as I come home from work."
"Katherine needs to be around me all the time," Coni says. "She needs to feel connected to me all the time. I am her world."
"The rest of us are pushed aside constantly for what's best for Katherine," Chris says.
"I would like a relationship with my mom," Maggie says. "Katherine prevents us from having one. We get into a fight every single day. My mom is missing out on things that are going on in my life, school-related, friend-related. I need to live one day where there's no fighting."
[AD]"I really do realize that in caring for Katherine, I have probably let the rest of them down as a wife and as a mother," Coni says tearfully. "I feel caught in the middle of a really bad situation. The situation with Katherine has gotten so bad that Chris has threatened to leave, that he will divorce me."
"Katherine is definitely affecting the happiness of our marriage and is tearing it apart," Chris says.
"It boils down to if Katherine doesn't go to a home, or we don't get help for Katherine that fixes the situation in our home, then he will leave. What kind of a choice is that? Either way, I lose somebody I love," Coni says.
Coni is visibly emotional after seeing the video of their story. Dr. Phil asks her what she's thinking.
"I'm thinking how difficult it is. Not just how hard it is on us as a family, but how difficult Katherine's life is for her every day," she says.
"Obviously, our house if very divided. Katherine's behavior keeps it that way on a daily basis, and we are just searching for any help and resolution that we can get to bring our family back together," Chris explains.
Dr. Phil asks the couple about their differing opinions about putting Katherine in a facility.
"I'm against institutionalizing Katherine for the reason that it makes it easier on everybody just to get her out of the house," Coni says. "If it were to send Katherine somewhere because it was the best possible solution for Katherine, because it was going to be where she was going to get help that she needed, I would consider that, but not just to toss her out of the house like she's disposable, because it's easier for everybody in the house."
"You get that because she absorbs so much time, so much energy and creates so much chaos, that's kind of tossing the rest of the family to the side, saying, â€˜This is going to be all about her,'" Dr. Phil says.
[AD]"I do recognize that I'm letting the rest of the family down," she says. "But they're all going to be OK in their lives. Katherine's life is not going to be OK until we find a way to help her."
"I've dealt with this situation many, many times. We need to get one thing really straight: You're not letting anybody down. What you're doing is the best you can with what you know and what you've got right now," Dr. Phil tells Coni.
He tells Chris, "And you are not being cold, or unkind or uncaring to say that you need to consider an alternative situation for Katherine here. You guys are in over your head. This can't continue the way it's going right now."
Coni admits she has resentment toward the rest of the family for wanting Katherine out of the house. "I'm resentful of the fact that they're putting me in the middle, and they want me to choose. I can't pick him over my daughter, and I can't choose a child over another," she says.
Katherine was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder at the age of 12. She's on medication, but it doesn't seem to help. Coni says she sees traits of bipolar disorder in her daughter but isn't sure the diagnosis is correct because doctors haven't spent enough time with her. Chris is also doubtful.
Dr. Phil agrees. "I have to say, I'm very dubious about this," he says. "That would be the youngest accurate diagnosis of bipolar disorder I've ever seen." He surmises that their daughter may be misdiagnosed, because traits of bipolar can show up in other mental illnesses. "Here's the thing: I don't think whether she's bipolar or not has anything to do with the problems that you're dealing with," he tells them.
Dr. Phil explains that even a bipolar diagnosis doesn't make Katherine's behavior acceptable. "To accept that kind of behavior from someone who has a mental illness is to devaluate them, it is to fail to treat them with dignity and respect. The worst thing you can do for someone who has a mental illness, or a physical illness for that matter, is to not require them to do everything they can do."
Coni says that they are doing what they've been told to do, such as sympathizing with her when she acts out, instead of arguing, although she and Chris still debate that one tip.
Dr. Phil says he's not sure what their therapist recommends, but what he can tell them is that Katherine's bad behavior is being enabled. "She has become a bully inside this family, and everybody is backing off because it's kind of like, â€˜Oh, she has a mental illness, so this is that behavior, so we can't deal with that, we don't want to antagonize the situation.' But that is not constructive here. You cannot allow this child, now 18 years old, to be a disruptive factor in this family, and to have violent outbursts, and to not expect her to conduct herself with dignity and respect, and certainly not with a bipolar diagnosis," he says.
[AD]"I agree that her behavior is not acceptable, but I also have the issue of trying to keep peace within my house," Coni says, her voice wavering. "I'm scared that if she acts out, if she doesn't behave well inside the house, that Chris is going to leave, or that the other kids are going to just turn on me. I'm in this impossible situation of trying to keep the peace all the time so nobody is upset."
"It's not an impossible situation, and you're not going to have to be the peacekeeper," Dr. Phil says.