Parental Abuse?: Jonathan

JoAnn and Jonathan
JoAnn says she believes her 28-year-old son, Jonathan, needs mental help because of how abusive he is.
 
“When she yells and screams at me, I don’t sit back and take it,” Jonathan, a former corrections officer, admits in a previously-recorded interview. “I yell and scream right back at her.”
 
JoAnn says that Jonathan becomes so enraged, he sometimes foams at the mouth and one time, choked her husband.
 
“That little 5-foot-nothing woman that she is has put me up against a wall plenty of times,” Jonathan says. “She’s the one to be feared.”
 
“I’m afraid he’s going to hurt himself or my grandson,” JoAnn says.
 
Onstage, JoAnn is sobbing. She says, “I never say anything to him. I don’t even get a chance to talk to him because he’s just outraged.”
 
Jonathan says he loves his mom, but he just reacts to her “tangents.”

 
Jonathan explains how his mother gets under his skin and pushes him over the edge.

 
JoAnn demonstrates the violence she says she endures.

 
JoAnn says she fears her grandson has fallen victim to Jonathan’s alleged abuse.
 
Dr. Phil asks Jonathan whether Child Protective Services has become involved, and he says yes. “You were restricted to only supervised visits for three months?” he asks.
 
Jonathan claims that he had a mental breakdown because of things his mother did, which drove him over the edge. “She involves herself so far in my life, with my son’s mom, with females in my life, with my other family members, that I can’t get away from her,” he says.
 
“You do strike me as somebody who has anger just kind of seething below the level here,” Dr. Phil tells Jonathan. He says he notices the anger when JoAnn nags him. “And you do nag,” he tells JoAnn.

“No, I don’t,” she responds with a pout.

“Does she nag you at home?” Dr. Phil asks Jonathan.

Jonathan pauses, smiles, and responds with a chuckle, “Do I need to answer the question?”

[AD]“I think maybe my definition of nagging and your definition of nagging may be two different things,” Dr. Phil tells JoAnn. He asks Jonathan, “Do you manage your mother by intimidation?” After Jonathan says no, Dr. Phil responds, “I don’t believe that, and I don’t believe you believe it.” He reads a quote from Jonathan: “I am verbally abusive. I tell her to leave me the * alone. I do scream and yell at the top of my voice and demand that she sit down and listen; and if she would just sit down and listen, I wouldn’t have to be this way.”


Dr. Phil asks Jonathan whether he's verbally abusive to his son, and he says no. “Do you do it in front of your son?” he asks.

“I try not to; I have,” Jonathan responds. He says he has tried to stop acting this way in front of his son. “I don’t do it as often as I used to.”

“I want you to do it none,” Dr. Phil tells him. “She’s not a perfect mother,” he says while pointing toward JoAnn before telling him, “and you’re not a perfect son.” He says JoAnn’s actions often trigger Jonathan’s anger, causing him to snap. “When parents say and do things, it has an extra gravity besides somebody else saying it. You want your parents to approve of you, you want them to be proud of you, you want them to accept you; you want them to validate you, and if you get messages to the contrary, it really stings.” He tells them they need to communicate more effectively.

See if an exercise can help mother and son communicate properly.


[AD]“Your son doesn’t need a bully; he needs a soft place to fall,” Dr. Phil tells Jonathan. He tells him that the role of the man in the family is to be a provider, leader, protector and a teacher. “I’m not saying you don’t have justifications for irritation … but because you have a justification to do it, doesn’t mean that you have to do it.” He offers to get Jonathan help with managing his anger, if he can’t control it on his own.