Ask Dr. Phil and Robin: Ana and Derren

Allergies or Anxieties?

"When Derren and I were first going out, he started to scratch a lot," says Ana, who has been dating Derren for over a year. "At first, we just figured it was the cat. "

"I had these red bumps all over my face, and my neck, and my arms, and I was getting migraines. It kept getting worse and worse every time I saw her," Derren explains. "We would avoid her house. She would wash her clothes, but I would still catch a reaction."


When Ana and Derren visited Costa Rica, they hoped his allergy would stop. "He was still scratching the whole time while we were there, and we were there for a whole month and a half, so it wasn't the cat," Ana shares. 


As their relationship progressed, Ana and Derren moved in together, and Derren's scratching intensified. "I couldn't fall asleep without ripping my skin apart," says Derren, who suffered many sleepless nights. "I went to three different dermatologists, and they all gave me different diagnoses. I did two weeks of cranberry juice. That didn't work." He has also tried herbal shots and many creams. 


Ana tried too remedy the problem as well. "I even went to the ocean, cleansed myself, cut up lemon and rubbed it all over my body, because I heard that disinfects," she shares. "We have tried spending time apart. That's the only way he ever was getting better."


Derren worries his allergy affects his intimacy with Ana. "I don't really want to hug her. I don't really want to kiss her. It affects whatever is exposed, so when we get intimate, that gets affected as well. Love is pain," he says. "Before I met Ana, I didn't have an allergic reaction to anything. What am I supposed to think? I do believe that I'm allergic to Ana. Ana thinks it's all in my head, but if I don't see her, I heal. When I do see her, I'm not healing."


Ana turns do Dr. Phil and Robin for help. "Can Derren really be allergic to me, or is it all in his head?" she asks.

"I'm keeping you apart today to avoid any possible flare-ups or inflammation," Dr. Phil jokes to Ana and Derren, who sit on opposite sides of the couch. He asks Ana how she feels about the situation.

"Absolutely horrible," she says. "I can't even touch my own boyfriend and have him not be allergic to me."

"If you're in close proximity, this doesn't happen sometimes, it happens all the time, right?" Dr. Phil asks Derren.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time it's going to happen," he says.


Dr. Phil points out that Derren has had to tie his arms down at night because he was scratching himself to the point of bleeding. "So you can date her, but she has to come with zip ties," he jokes.


Robin joins the conversation. "I'm sitting here trying to imagine not being able to touch you," she says to Dr. Phil. Turning to Ana she says, "I'm so sorry, because that's not good."


"You gave away all of your clothes," Dr. Phil says to Ana.


"Yeah, just in case my makeup from a long time ago could have been embedded in it somehow," she explains.


"She was willing to give her clothes away," Dr. Phil says to Derren. With a chuckle, he asks, "Was this a ploy just to get her out of her clothes?"

"I don't have to try that hard," Derren joshes.

Dr. Phil explains that Derren and Ana have been separated for 36 hours. "We wanted to test Derren to see if he would react if he didn't know he was around Ana," he says. He plays a video of the secret encounter.

"I'm going to be giving Derren a massage today. I am going to try to relax him, because I hear he's very stressed," says Alisha, a message therapist. Speaking to Ana, she explains. "He's going to believe it's me and my assistant, Liz. We're going to switch you two out, and you're going to massage him as well." She gives Ana pointers on how to give a massage. "We're going to have fun. It's going to be really easy."

After Alisha massages Derren for a bit, unbeknownst to him, Ana steps in to massage his lower back.

At the end, Derren says, "I needed this massage a lot. I feel so much better. I just feel free again."


"I don't think Derren got an allergic reaction at all," Ana says. "I think Derren's going to be surprised when he finds out that it was me massaging him."

"You didn't know it was her, and she touched you. She rubbed her hands all over you. She got right up next to you, and you didn't have any reaction at all," Dr. Phil says to Derren.

"I don't think the whole tape was shown," he says. "I was scratching my neck afterward quite a bit."


"We asked you afterward how you felt, and you said, 'It was geat. I'm so much better than when I started.' You didn't mention anything about your neck itching. You didn't mention anything about your back itching," Dr. Phil points out. "What does that mean?"


"I don't know what it means, to be honest," Derren says.


"There's something called somatization," Dr. Phil tells Derren. He explains that Derren can get into a pattern where his body responds to a stimulus. "That means there's a neurological link to it now that needs to be unlinked." He assures Derren there's an easy fix.


To Ana, Dr. Phil says, "It appears that this doesn't have much to do with you."


Turning back to Derren, Dr. Phil says, "It has to do with you, but it is something that you can manage, and I'm going to help you get desensitized to that, so you two can be together."