Therapists see and help many troubled patients. You can imagine they have incredibly inspiring stories. However, as some therapists prove, they also have some pretty intriguing moments. Some moments are super odd, others are scary, some would make you face-palm, but all of them would make some poor therapist go, "Wait, what?"
We wanted to see the worst of the worst, the most unbelievable patient stories. And who better to hear them from than the therapists themselves? So, we scanned Reddit and found the most shocking therapist stories there were and here they are. This content was edited for clarity.
Liking Princesses Apparently Means Something Sinister
“One that stuck out in my mind was a mother that brought in her 5-year-old for therapy because she was into Disney princesses, which were clearly ‘inappropriate’ and since a 5-year-old is nonsexual, this must clearly mean she’s being hurt by someone. Nope. She, like most other five-year-olds, just liked princesses.
I’ve also worked with countless couples who have come to counseling for adultery wherein adultery is the same as watching adult videos. One client even became suicidal because she caught her husband pleasuring himself after not having intimate relations with him for months. I know everyone has different values, but c’mon, y’all.”
“The Kid Was Fascinating”
“The worst, most bizarre thing I’ve actually encountered in terms of creepy was a little developing sociopath. He had a history (fire, animals, intimate relations) and was apparently high in CU (Callous and Unemotional) traits. He was about 11 when I first met him, so no one was going to call him ASPD (Anti Social Personality Disorder) or anything, but that’s what he looked like he was growing into.
Anyway, the kid was incredibly funny, smart, and charming. No one can believe what his previous school and doctors were saying about him. I was new there, so I was taken in as well. Then, one day he got in trouble for stealing and we had the proof on camera, but he didn’t know that. I was sitting in as a witness/security while he was going through this whole series of emotions: surprise, indignation, fear, anger, etc as he pretended he had no idea why he was being accused. Then we showed the tape and he just stopped dead, blank expression, and said something to the effect of, ‘So what, you were just wasting my freaking time?’
It was another voice, a completely different personality coming out of this kid like you flipped a switch. I’ve seen some stuff, but that moment was creepy as heck.
It was basically things like this for the years that I worked there. He was generally a really well-behaved kid compared to the impulse control and conduct disorder students we usually saw. He grew into a master manipulator and I personally believed that he amused himself by driving his peers to act out while he stringently followed the rules.
There was a period when a few guys liked a girl in class, and this kid (I’ll call him R, because that’s not the first letter of his first name) who had no apparent interest in the girl before, suddenly liked her, wooed her, won her, had intimate relations with her, and dumped her in favor of her friend. As you can imagine, this caused some anger. He then spent the next few weeks being really nice to the people who were threatening and attempting to beat him down. Things like, ‘Hey, let me sharpen that pencil for you!’ Really out of character stuff, which infuriated people because it was obviously fake. At the same time, we were being told by students that he’d whisper things to kids in the hall like, ‘I wasn’t even her first.’
Anyway, these kids would occasionally attempt to assault R, but security was always around the school, so R would just goad these kids on and crack up laughing as the aggressor was being escorted from class. Of course, some teachers would address his behavior with him, asking him to stop instigating events, and his response would be along the lines of, ‘What rule did I break?’ And, of course, he’d be right. He got very good at technically following the rules when people were watching, doing whatever he wanted when people weren’t watching, lying whenever he felt like it, and basically getting away with a lot of antisocial behavior without consequence.
There were times when he’d lose his mind over stuff, of course. No one can wear a mask all of the time, but I guessed that knowing what was lurking under that mask took some of the shock away after that first time.
A second-hand story I heard during a treatment team meeting was that at some point, he had been caught saying something inappropriate, and another kid told on him. R was directed to report to the resource specialists (basically in-school detention). The teacher told him to go. He sat in his desk staring straight ahead and told her in a very flat voice that he didn’t say what he was accused of saying. The teacher responded that he’ll have a chance to explain that to a resource. Still staring straight ahead, he told her he knew what her car looked like. He knew she had a kid around his age. He could look up her license plate number to get her address. He could take his father’s weapon (we all knew he had stolen his father’s weapon before, luckily it had a lock on it), go to her house, knock on the door and shoot everyone.
You see, he thought he could make a case for himself because he was speaking hypothetically. He never actually said he would do any of those things, just that it was possible. We had security take him to the resource where he waited until the police picked him up. We also then had to park in another lot so the students couldn’t watch our cars pull in if their parents brought them early and they were waiting on campus.
The kid was fascinating.”
He Didn’t Understand Weight-loss
“I had a client who was told he absolutely had to start losing weight else he would become troublingly diabetic and began losing appendages. He didn’t put much effort in, eventually having his foot amputated. The time after that I saw him, I had to explain that having a foot amputated did not count as half a stone towards his weight loss targets. He was genuinely mortified.”
Why Was Pie Involved?
“A teenager came in for a session. He told me he broke into his neighbors’ house just for fun by smashing a window. He said he browsed their CD collection and wasn’t impressed with all the Spanish music. He said he searched the house for money but when he got to the second floor, he heard a shower running and someone was home.
Here was the off part, he said he ran out and went home to bake a lemon meringue pie and returned to neighbors’ house to give it to them as a gift. No answer at the door.
I discussed needing to have a doctor assess the teen about mental health hospitalization for this and other issues. After I make the call to the police, he asked to use the restroom. Sure, the kid seemed calm with what was happening. Then the teen bolted out of the office. Police found them later when he showed up at his parent’s office to borrow $20. He was put in the psych ward for a month.”
“Quality” Father-Son Time
“I conducted a threat assessment on a first grader who told his teacher he wanted to stab himself with a knife and die. Upon further questioning he revealed that he and his dad watch the Walking Dead together and last time on the show he saw two people stab themselves to death because, ‘They didn’t want to get eaten by the zombies.’
Why would the dad ever watch that show with a 6-year-old?”
No More Compliments for Him
“A client was going to probate court and thought he’d dress up by putting a non-slip sock on his collar as a tie. Trying to be supportive I told him, ‘Nice tie.’ To which he replied, ‘It’s not a tie it’s a sock stupid.’
If you’re familiar with probate it’s not a very public hearing. The client was difficult and I was trying to give some positivity to build rapport. The people I work with are usually very sick and I liked to compliment them any chance I get as most of them come from families that want nothing to do with them or the streets. Stay positive friend!”
He Was Being A Bit Dramatic
“I used to screen people at the ER to see if they needed a psych admission.
This one kid came in after he ran away and told his mother he was going to kill himself. Mom called the police and they hauled him into the ER. So I sat down with the kid and mom said that it all started after she noticed a post on his Facebook that said, ‘Got Dr. Feel Good in my dresser drawer, life is good.’ Apparently, the kid was ‘feeling so good’ that he forgot that he was Facebook friends with his mother, who promptly removed said ‘Dr. Feel Good.’
When kid realized this, he threw a glorified tantrum threatening suicide if he didn’t get it back and ran out of the house when mom flushed it in front of him. It was late, I was cranky because I was staying late to see this kid so I just looked at him and said, ‘REALLY?’ The kid looked like he wanted to melt into the chair and just shook his head no. No, he was not suicidal. But he learned a lesson that night. Limited profile for parents.”
The Cons Still Outweigh The Benefits
“I had a client who we found out was storing his own crap under his bed. He would then eat his waste for a snack. The first issue was that he thought he was an alien, so eating his poop had a few benefits in his mind. The first benefit was that he could not study his poop then. Next, he felt that alien poop had nutrients he could not get from our food. He would eat normal food but we found out he felt earth food was poison and alien poo fixed that. The final benefit was that alien poop is worth a lot of money so he did not want us to steal it.
When we found out what he was doing, I got to inform him that we were taking away his crap. He kicked me.”
There’s A Right And A Wrong Way To Treat A Pie
“I’m not a therapist but this was definitely a what the heck moment. I had to go to school consulting once. I was there because the fire alarm in the building had rung three times that night. Once was a drill the second was around dinner time and the last one was around three. I snapped at the last one and threaten the kid who caused it with a baseball bat. You know those stupid indoor fire alarms.
Anyway, I was sent to one session of counseling because of anti-social behavior and all that. There was this dude who also in for therapy, it was a group thing. The counsellor asked him why he was there. He said he was there because he was caught by his roommate making love to a warmed up shepherd pie (which was not his) in the kitchen. All of us seriously just stopped and stared at him. Like, he wasn’t saying this embarrassed or nothing. He just matter of factly said he ‘made love’ to his roommate’s shepherd pie.”
Don’t Eat His Snack
“One client of mine bites and eats his fingernails. Gross, but not unheard of. Then I learned that he stored his fingernails in a box in his room to save them for a snack later. A little grosser, but he’s about 9 so I’m hoping he will grow out of it.
What finally made me want to vomit was learning that when anyone in his family clips their nails, FINGERS OR TOES, they gave him the clippings to add to his box. So when he’s eating nails from the box they could belong to his mother, father, or siblings. Yes, I’ve addressed the parents about enabling this behavior, but it was still happening after that.”
A Cringeworthy Kid
“I worked in a residential facility and we had a kid that would violently assault his large panda bear and then lick the reproductive goo off till it was clean while whispering what a nice lady the bear was.”
These Hoarders Had It Bad
“I am a therapist who works with hoarders. I’ve seen it all.
I found 10 decomposed dead cats huddle together in one corner of a room. The bodies were so decomposed that there was only skin and skeletons left. The cats were trapped in the house because the hoarder basically closed himself off in his room, so we suspect that the cats either were huddling together for comfort or eating each other.
One hoarder had a fridge full of food that stopped working. Instead of throwing it out, he duck taped it shut and left it in his living room for over 3 years until we found it. When the cleaners moved it (we didn’t even dare to open it), a brownish/grey liquid oozed out of it. I can’t even begin to describe the smell to you.
One hoarder was so devastated that his dog died that he kept the body for so many weeks next to him in his bed. That dog was his only companion for many years. He did not want to let go of it and slept with it for a few weeks. “
He Couldn’t Do Much To Help This Girl
“I have a master’s in clinical psychology and currently working towards my doctorate. I feel like I have at least one of these moments per day at my clinic rotations, regardless of the type of setting.
One that stood out the most was when I was working a camp for children with various psychological disorders, most with some sort of behavioral concerns. The girl I was paired with had a history of aggressive and violent tendencies. We went the whole day without any problems. That was until we were doing some group physical activity to wind down and focus before leaving for the day.
She didn’t like that this meant no longer playing with a certain toy, so she took off her shoe and threw it at the little boy in front of her. He had autism and immediately started crying and screaming. While someone helped him, I turned to the girl to explain to her what she did was wrong. As I turned towards her, she punched me square in the face, then grabbed a hold of my hair. She managed to pull out a good chunk. I’m about 5’1, and this girl was maybe one or two inches shorter than me and had about 20 pounds on me, despite being 9 years old. Finally, I got some help from other staff and we were able to calm her down after about 15 minutes.
The kicker was when we told her mom what happened, she basically dismissed the entire thing and laughed about it. It was so frustrating because you just know this kind of thing is reinforced at home as there is no punishment. The girl then started hitting her mom, who grabbed and held down her arms. The little girl laughed, looked at me and the other staff member, and said, ‘Ugh a little help over here?! Are you going to let her do this to me? She’s hurting my arm.’
I went home and did this weird laugh/cry for a few hours. Luckily you learn pretty quickly not to take things personally and move on, so things were back to normal the next day. I do occasionally look back at that day just baffled at how quickly that whole situation escalated. Most of the other moments that come to mind involve poop in some capacity.”
His “Addiction” Wasn’t All It Was Cracked Up To Be
“I work as an intake clinician.
Me: ‘What brings you in today?’
Patient: ‘I’m here for adult film addiction.’
At this point, not the weirdest thing I’ve heard, let’s go with that. ‘Okay, tell me about it.’
Patient: ‘I watch it three times a week, for 15 minutes or so at a time. My girlfriend said I’m an addict and forced me to come in.’
I see lots of very extreme cases, but this was so minor that it made me stop for a moment.
I sent them to couples’ counseling.”
This Mom Needed Therapy!
“I had a client once who was less than 8 years old, and had once taken a snack from the fridge without permission. Her mother responded by locking the fridge, cabinets, and all the rooms that were not this child’s bedroom.
I had quite a time explaining why that wasn’t really a reasonable reaction.”
Don’t Drink That!
“This recently happened to me. I had a client who is an addict. During our last session, he complained of sleep issues. Delving into this new issue he described his solution to me: he saves his spit in a jar to drink at night when he is unable to sleep.
SAVES HIS SPIT IN A JAR TO DRINK LATER.”
When Curiosity Gets The Better Of Ya
“I’m not a therapist yet, but I’m currently taking a counseling and therapies university course, and we occasionally hear some stories from our professors in lectures or tutorials. One sticks out in my mind because I’d never seen an entire class shocked into silent horror before.
A guest lecturer told us about a client he had who used a craft knife to cut open his own junk and took out what was inside because he wanted to look at it and play with it.”
He Pulled That Out?!
“My client told me his family didn’t appreciate his interest in weapons, to which he proceeded to tell me he was always carrying. He then placed his weapon on the table in front of me and asked if it made me nervous. It did, but we focused more on why he wanted to know if I was nervous and brought it back around to his family. He had it concealed under his jacket behind his back. From then on, I made sure to always have access to a door and never put the client between the door and myself again just to be safe.
We had to discuss terminating our sessions if he was to bring it in again. He never did and made sure to show me each time.”
I Wonder How His Parents Reacted
“My hyper-conservative parents sent me to an addiction therapist because they found out I smoked pot occasionally in high school.
The therapist they chose was a former White House czar, a renowned authority on blow addiction and hard abuse, and an expert on rehabilitating extreme problem cases. My parents must have spent a fortune and pulled strings to get me an appointment.
The first session he asks me what I used. I told him I smoke pot like once a week and that was it. After a few rounds of, ‘Come on, you can trust me,’ and ‘We can’t begin treatment until you admit your problem,’ he realized that I really do only smoke pot once in a while and literally says, ‘You have got to be kidding me. Tell your parents you are a normal teenager and you don’t need to come back.’
Do You Want to Go to Jail?
“I was running an addiction treatment group. Some of the participants were referred by the court, usually for a drinking while driving violation. The referral conditions were simple – if they finished treatment, they would not serve time in jail for the crime.
One of these court-referred participants ran a limo service and showed up to group with a tablet and cell phone. He spread his things out and proceeded to treat the space as his personal office.
I intervened, explaining he would not be able to conduct business while participating in the group. He gave me a look that would have killed an ordinary person, said it was a busy time of year and he really needed to stay in touch with his drivers.
I told him I understood but he still needed to put the stuff away and pay attention. There was a lot of eye rolling, ‘I can’t believe this lady,’ and he still kept checking his phone and getting up to go outside and take calls.
During the break, I told him his behavior was disruptive and he would have to leave. This seemed to make him happy until I added I would be telling the judge he did not complete treatment.
For the first time, he seemed to slowly realize he was there for a reason, and might actually end up in jail because of his behavior. He apologized and asked to stay. And he settled down after that.”