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Ask the Experts

Question:

I have been told my friend, 14, has a personality disorder. She has trouble keeping relationships because she constantly makes up stories and rumors about people, often of a sexual nature, and she sometimes seems to believe her imagination.

I feel sorry for her because she has a lot of trouble in her family life.

Is there anything I can do to help her without getting harmed? How would I go about getting professional help for her?

Answered by: Anne Marie Albano

If your friend is 14, I am assuming that you, too, are a teenager. You are in a tough spot because you can make suggestions to help your friend but you cannot "make" her follow up on any of them. Here is what I suggest: the next time your friend has a problem in a relationship---whether with a friend or family member---gently suggest that she talk to a counselor at school or someone else who may help her. You can point out the specific ways that she is upset (mad at someone, left out of things by friends, trouble being understood by her family) and tell her that a counselor may be able to help. If she does not follow through after you have given this suggestion a few times, you can let her know that there is nothing else you can do, because she has to start helping herself. You can be her friend, but you cannot solve her problems, you can only direct her to an adult who may be able to help.