DEAR ABBY: My nephew, "Vincent," is 16 and has had problems with obsessive handwashing for years. I have enough professional experience to strongly suspect that he suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
My brother and his wife refuse to believe their child has a problem and will not take him to get help. My nephew's hands are chafed and raw, and his parents reprimand him for this behavior when he really needs professional help.
His mother is the biggest problem. She nixes all issues that suggest a problem, and my brother will not stand up to her. What can I do? -- WORRIED AUNT IN FLORIDA
DEAR WORRIED AUNT: Your sister-in-law may not want her son "labeled," but ignoring the problem will not resolve it. And reprimanding the young man for something he can't help is cruel.
Your nephew is old enough to discuss the problem with intelligently. Start out by asking him if he thinks he has a problem, and whether he would like to get help for it. After all, at his age he must be self-conscious about his chafed skin.
If he's agreeable, suggest he talk to someone at school about it -- preferably the student health officer or a trusted teacher. If that's not possible, and there is a free clinic in your area, offer to take him there.