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Sawdust Caesars with anxiety.

Community Member


I've joined up to try to find some info about anxiety and how people cope with it. To be more specific, I want to find out if it's common for some people with anxiety to resort to habitual tyrannical behavior towards others, as a way of keeping their anxiety at bay.

I know a family in this posiiton. One of the children, ( named "X", age, over 20), has chosen to be a recluse for the past 15 years. Lives with the father, who barely tolerates X and wants X out. X refuses to go back home to the mother, but phones her frequently to demand food be brought to the father's house. In these phone calls, X is always hostile, calls the mother by her name, and says, "You'll only come here if I say you can!" Phone calls begin with, "What have you got to say for yourself?!"

X demands to know what the father is "up to", and insists that the mother keep X informed. However, the parents are divorced and the father has remarried. The mother repeatedly tells X that she can't influence the father in any way, but X keeps insisting.

The dynamic of the family is such that X behaves like an absolute tyrant, dictating terms to the mother daily, while utterly refusing to make any attempt to leave the father's house. X rarely eats and never showers, and never leaves the house ever, but refuses to tell anyone in the family the reason(s) for this choice. The behavior and demeanour of X is unvarying hostile and belligerent and angry almost to the point of hysteria whenever the mother tries to explain her situation. The mother has told me that anger is the dominant tone of all the conversations, and that they always contain a demand, a command, or some vague ultimatum unless X's demands are met.

So my question is; is this kind of behavior common to people with anxiety disorders? Personally I suspect it is a coping mechanism which the person adopts in order to feel at least some trace of control over life. If this is the case, then I would think that there might be a certain way of responding to the behavior that might alleviate the person's distress and maybe even begin to lead to a "cure" for the anxiety. At present, both parents simply accede to all the demands, commands, and threats because to do otherwise inevitably causes an hysterical "shut-down" of X. They worry about the potential for suicide, of course, if they lose touch with X completely.

Hope I've made this clear enough for a response.


1 Reply 1

Hi Pill Bill,

Thanks for your post.  The purpose of our online community is to provide peer support for people experiencing anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and related life issues; and also for people providing support for those individuals.  

We're unable to provide diagnoses of mental health conditions, and providing comment on second-hand or hypothetical situations would be unhelpful.

If you're looking for information on anxiety conditions, please have a look through this section of our website: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety

We also have many threads here in the Anxiety and Staying Well sections detailing how various members of our community manage their anxiety conditions.

You might also wish to suggest that your friends get in touch with Carers Australia 1800 242 636 for further guidance. Their website can be found here: http://www.carersaustralia.com.au/