Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Dealing with delusions concerning family friends


#1

My son, 25, ‘remembered’ many instances of being raped as a child, with other family friends, brother, cousins who were his peers. The rapes were at the hands of many adults especially his dad, a particular teacher, President Clinton, and about 5 others who are close friends.
This week he called one of the other ‘victims’ to tell her that he was reporting a series of rapes to the police. She is now 30, was alarmed and dealt with it by calling her mother who called me. I knew my son was planning on calling her but didn’t feel I could give her any warning, as that would be seen as obstruction by my son if he found out. The description of these accounts are incredibly vivid and incredibly disturbing. I feel like I must tolerate hearing them as my son is tolerating having these heinous images of abuse in his mind.
I also hate that I cannot protect these young people, including my younger son, 22, from hearing these detailed scenes that they were supposed to remember as other victims. (what will that do to his relationship with his big brother, and only full sibling?)
I just learned that a cousin, now 25, was called and written to, by my son last summer as part of an accusation about my x husband, my son’s father. She was apparently devastated by my son’s ranting in a letter about his false memory of her uncle raping him and her.
When my son told me he was going to the police and calling this young woman, I consciously decided to let the chips fall where they may. Hoped that he would get some cognitive correction from the experience. Has anyone dealt with these kinds of ethical and emotional dilemmas?


#2

Hi. Sorry that you are going through this.

I disagree with your statement though. It’s sad your son is ill, but it doesn’t give him the right to put the person he called through what would have been very disturbing for her. You knew about it and could have prevented it. You didn’t. Your son doesn’t have the right to cause damage to people around him. Ill people have the same boundaries as the rest of us.

I have dealt with emotional dramas too. My wife got a UTI and told anyone who would listen that I had been giving her STD’s. It was horrific for me. Being accused of child rape is so much worse. Can you imagine the pain that this is putting people through? Furthermore, can you imagine the effect on these people if the police did investigate? Did you warn the police in advance that your son is SZ to perhaps prevent an investigation and the damage that it may cause?

EDIT - If I sounded harsh I wanted to try and put things in another way:

We all have a tank of emotional energy. The lower it becomes the less happy we become and the more prone we become to mental illness ourselves. I felt that the situation you describe will take a lot of this emotional energy from other people - imagine if the girl he called can’t get the images out of her mind and has nightmares? Imagine if the accused teacher gets investigated and has a nervous breakdown.

I just feel that as the family of ill people, sometimes family members (especially parents) out of love for their child act as enablers for the ill person to live out their psychotic world. However, this also enables them to take a lot of this emotional energy from other people. You can decide to let your son take your emotional energy, however in my opinion if your son, enabled by you or not prevented by you, does things that are important to him but incorrect, then to me it is allowing him to ‘steal’ this emotional energy from other people. I don’t think they should suffer because you need to protect your relationship with your son and don’t want to be seen as obstructive, and I don’t think you have the right to decide they should suffer. I don’t think your son can be ‘blamed’ because he is ill and it is all real to him, but this doesn’t give him the right to go out and damage people, or you the right to enable him. And you are not ill (I presume).


#3

Hi there,

My dad with schizophrenia would have similar accusations about other people. He would say he is “defending himself”. But my dad would talk about it with himself in order to process his delusion. Eventually, the ideas would lesson their grip on his mind through this coping mechanism. Try encouraging your son to explore these traumatic events with a professional therapist. If you do not have access to one, see if you are comfortably with exploring your sons feelings regarding the event. Also, try to uncover the underlying reason why your son is thinking this way. I know this might be super difficult to do. Hang in there.

HP


#4

Hi presence,

Dr Amador says that people with delusions have a need to talk about the delusions. I have friends who find this to be the most stressful part (for them) of their child’s illness. One of my friends starts crying when her son starts up and can’t stop herself from crying. Our son’s expressing of his delusions hasn’t gotten into details. When he wanted to reach out to someone who could “make us stop sexually abusing him”. I let my sister know ahead of time that he wanted to call her. He did call her and she was quite shook up by his accusations - and this is without him providing any details.

I think I would warn family members and let them know they can hang up, or just not read the communications.


#5

hi Cato1,
I very much appreciate your getting back to me with your experience.
Believe me, I have imagined the worst case scenario here. These delusions are what brought my son into the hospital last summer. he refuses medication and psychotherapy at this point.
Our family did go through some terrible losses at this time of year for about 3 years when my sons were way too young to process.
This was the first time I was confronted with these big immediate questions since all of this surfaced. My son did go to the police and the police recognized the MI.
I did figure that would probably happen. I try to correct the memories - such as - I don’t remember that person, persons being at your party - in that house etc.
I don’t want to be defensive here at all.
How can I stop him from calling people or texting? Next time I will give the person a warning when I know he is going to call. it was only after this incident this week that my x told me his niece had been called last summer and had been traumatized.
I have worked for many years in therapy to process how early loss has effected my children, and have done everything I could to get them to buy into therapy (which my younger son has done).
I would not have expected these delusions. My children had a wonderful network of friends that became family to us. No one deserves these accusations. It is the sheer number of incidents with so many people, of such varying personalities and ages, and the fact that Bill Clinton is involved that saves everyone from further lawsuits.
But the imagery is mind clawing, for anyone to be told.
I called our young friend to process with her. Her mother had assured her that this was part of our son’s illness. She did not answer the phone when he called, and was texted and could tell he was raging, so did not reply. I suggested that if it happened again, she text the truth of not having been there with the other person involved and that from her standpoint it never happened to her.
Thank you for your kind reply - this is very emotional stuff and I really appreciate your description of not being enabled to steal others’ emotional energy. I agree wholeheartedly in theory and am working on practicing it in dealing with my son’s delusions.
Your words of experience help me to move beyond my first approach. This is why I so appreciate this website. Best wishes to you and your loved ones.
May we all be channels toward more peace.


#6

hpirozzoli,
Thanks for writing. Wow- your father got to a wise place. I wonder what the process was that got him to be able to do that. My son is so new at all this. and so am I. I truly look forward to assisting my son in any way i can, to get to THAT place.
WOW - I think you just gave me a KEY “exploring the feelings” regarding the event(s).
Thank you very much for your wise words.


#7

hope,
Thanks so much for writing back.
I appreciate your emotional availability as we all move through these storms.
Yes, next time I will give some warning and suggestions as to how to deal with the calls and texts. Fortunately I have a very strong relationship with the young woman and her mom. We have been there for eachother through many difficult times, and they will continue with us on this journey even through mistakes.
I will not let them hang out in the wind again.


#8

I dealt with this briefly during a family member’s psychotic episode. I had a sinking feeling and did not say anything to anyone because our family member was having so many symptoms, it did not occur to me to do any mediating of what was, at the time, a smaller problem.

When a friend’s adult child did this, the parent called and gave everyone a head’s up, told them just to listen. I agree that not answering the phone or text is also a reasonable option.

It’s so hard to see our children suffer so much. Their brains are trying to find explanations for the incredible suffering.


#9

Hi Presence,

Thank you, and it must be very rewarding and scary to be actively figuring out what is best for your sons as individuals at this time. I know my dad was diagnosed at 17 yrs. He’s now 65 yrs and I’m 21 yrs. He’s been on disability since 19 yrs. He’s the youngest of three boys and due to his delusions, could never hold down a job. His parents supported him and loved him through it all. When my dad had me at 43 yrs, I was not necessarily part of the plan. However, his parents still did the best they could to take care of the both of us. When my grandparents died (about 10 yrs ago now), they left my dad a trust fund to live off of for the rest of his life and put my dad’s older brother in charge of his care and my care. However, without his parents alive, he de-regulated quickly. The rest of his family ostracized and abandoned him. Subsequently, I had to be taken away. His family did not understand SZ. It was pretty heart wrenching for the both of us. His brother handed over his care to an attorney. My best advice I can give to you for your long term thoughts is making sure there are no loose ends in case something happens to you. If your son(s) still require continued care, then it is so important to figure out how you can continue the same quality of care when you’re no longer there.

I’m away at college now, my dad and I are beginning to reconnect from a far. It’s going to be an interesting journey. I am so grateful to love my dad the way he is. He is so wonderful SZ and all.

Remember: Sometimes rain must fall to make the flowers blossom.

Much love,

HP


#10

Dear HP
Your grandparents sound exceptional. And you are giving very good advice.
May you always find trustworthy supportive people.
Sending very best wishes to you and your dad and may your open and loving heart be thoroughly rewarded in this world.


#11

Hereandhere,
Thanks so much for the feedback.

Boy - that is really it, isn’t it? So very heartbreaking…


#12

That is very difficult to do. One challenge I have is making people aware of the illness vs. stigma. My wives diagnosis is still unclear - Schizoaffective / Bipolar with VERY psychotic features and rapid cycling, much more manic than depressive being the most likely but SZ not ruled out if more negative symptoms develop. Having lived with her for years I think the most likely is Schizoaffective. She is OK a lot of the time, but really goes into outer space in an episode. During this hospitilization I’ve been lying to people about where she is to reduce stigma, but on the other hand she has been reaching out to anyone that will listen to tell them about how I’m an evil genius. Sometimes she tells people about the bizarre delusions and they realize what’s going on, but sometimes it’s just the STD thing which is plausible. I don’t think it’s fair on her to tell everyone she may contact that she’s mentally ill, but on the other hand if I don’t do it then I take a lot of reputational damage. To me, if the delusions were about people other than me and posed a risk to them then I would feel I had to tell them. I feel for you.


#13

This is a dumb question, but have you told your son not to make these phone calls? Not sure if that will help, but if it were me, and I would tell him how wrong it is to call people and accuse them of things, EVERY time it happens. Maybe even include some consequences, i.e. punishment for doing so. No ice cream, or whatever.
Don’t mean to be judgemental. Just my 2 cents.


#14

Jan,
Not a dumb question - i will be thinking about all of these ideas that you kind people have sent.
So far my son hasn’t directly accused others outside the immediate family. He has told me of incidences of ‘abuse’ by others. And made a complaint to the police about that person. They recognized it as his MI, which was frustrating to him.
I would definitely give a heads up to people if he were going to call them and accuse them of abuse.
He did call to other ‘victims’ of abuse, one this week and one last summer.
I am looking for moments wherein we can have more conversations about the negative impact of the two calls he has made.


#15

How do you deal with discussing the delusions? I am at a loss here on how to do it. All the advice says ‘not to argue with a delusion’ however the support group seems to show that if you go along with these things you start being sucked into the psychotic world yourself and making things worse.


#16

Cato, I agree with you. I would never “go along” with delusions of such a serious nature, and I also definitely don’t agree with the “agree to disagree” method here either.

Based on my own experience, too much attention being paid to delusional accusations such as these will only firm them up. Once that happens, it’s very difficult to get rid of them, even if the person gets on medication.

I would flat out say “It didn’t happen”, If the person continues to talk about it, this would be a good time to say, “talk to a professional” or “medication can help you with this”.


#17

Day to day, that is good advice,but hard to follow when your sz loved one is screaming at you or the neighbors about some perceived prosecution. Sadly, that never worked with my ex.


#18

Oh yes.
There are areas of obsession/delusions common in sz: sex, religion, plots against them.
There maybe a seed of truth somewhere in the deluded mind, but it grows out of proportion.
For instance my son had a crush on a girl when he was young. As a man he decided this innocent crush was intimate and somewhat graphic. This decision was made when he was going through psychotic period. No amount of reasoning would change the opinion at this point in time so we let it be. However if he would have taken it public, we would have interceded at some point, not to protect him, but others.
As another said earlier, even mentally ill people have boundaries. They may feel strongly about something but unless they have evidence other than feelings, they cannot disrupt or tarnish another’s reputation based on feelings.
That said, with the news today about old and new accusations against people in power or famous, may have triggered something in your loved one. An idea “If it happened to them it happened to me”. Sadly it does happen, but even sadder there are many false or over blown stories also. And both scenarios destroy people involved.
So your decisions must be balanced. It is tough and heartbreaking. Do you have someone you can talk to and work out a plan…a therapist, NAMI group?


#19

It sounds like you hear a lot of the “don’t does”. Here are some “to do’s”: It helps to re-orientate. When your family member is speaking about a delusion, let them openly talk about it with you. (That helps them process what they are thinking). Then, re-orientate with familair, reality-based ideas (such as what’s next in his routine for the day). Explore if something in his schedule, in the future etc. is stressing him out. Delusions tend to worsen with anxiety/stress/ self-doubt.

You may find that asking him about his feelings is like hitting a brick wall. This is a side effect of the negative symptoms of SZ. If they can’t openly express their feelings, then have them process what’s going on in their head by letting them talk about the delusions (positive symptom) outloud- outside of their own heads. Sometimes it helps them to realize that they are in fact delusions and nothing more.


#20

Cato, Day-by-Day, Jan, thereisalwayshope and hpirozzoli,
Thanks for this frank discussion, which is what I need. My son mentioned new allegations yesterday from his beloved camp experience. Which led me to ask about the outcome of the call this week to another ‘victim.’ i was hoping of course it might shake the delusion. Since this is the third person (including his younger brother) who denies the same experience. But it served only to make my son feel more alone, and that he has to isolate more. Human contactfulness, feels very important to me to keep him as grounded in the here and now as possible.
We are doing everything we can to be accepting, loving supporters. It’s important to me that my son feel safe with my husband and I, and I invite him to make clear boundaries when he doesn’t feel safe. He told us this week he was no longer hugging anyone because he is saving that for his ‘girlfriend’. So no oxytocin… I think the easy hugs at church and at Thanksgiving may have caused some of the distress too.
Meanwhile my son is mostly calm. Surprisingly, he has been choosing to be with us in the living areas more than in his room this week. Joins in conversations and even cleaned the refrigerator this week - totally on his own accord.
I go to NAMI, and have names of two professionals which I will be calling. One is a psychologist who works with sz young men. The other is an eccentric psychiatrist who may have some other natural supplement information.
Sending you each thanks for your responsiveness to the topic. I feel I am in good company.