DEAR ABBY: My brother's wife, "Sandy," does not have a degree in psychology or medicine, yet freely assigns diagnoses to family members after reading about their "conditions" in magazines.
At a family picnic last Sunday, Sandy declared that I am bipolar and my mother is entering the second stage of Alzheimer's! I was appalled at her lack of sensitivity on this and other issues, so I called her Monday morning to initiate an honest discussion of her behavior.
Less than a minute into our conversation, Sandy angrily told me to "get a life" and slammed the phone in my ear. She immediately called my mother and told her how insulted she was that I would use the word "behavior" with her. She said it made her feel like a 6-year-old.
After she calmed down and phoned me back, Sandy repeated her outrage at my using the word "behavior." When I asked her what word I should have used instead, she said "efforts."
What do you make of her so-called "efforts," Abby? I still think she was out of line. My sister-in-law may be many things, but she's no doctor! -- FED UP IN PRINCETON, N.J.
DEAR FED UP: Right. There is a saying, "The best defense is a good offense." Your sister-in-law's behavior was an example of that.