Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Family members reactions

Does anyone have a really tough time trying to get other family members to understand just how sick our sz loved ones are? My son and I had a very heated argument yesterday over the phone. He is intent on correcting his sz sister’s perceptions of about so many things. I basically tell him to back off. She is very bright but cannot emotionally handle the stress. They only communicate by email due to my son saying she is not strong enough to hear what he really thinks. He has accused her of conning her family and that a lot of things she has done in the past that was criminal was well thought out and manipulated by her. (She was arrested for identity theft and spent a year in jail several years ago). She also stole my identity a few years ago.
She has said some was, but there was also a lot of delusion she was going through when it happened. She not only was afraid to let her family know she could not work (she was pretending she had a good job) but somehow thought she was helping me by helping with finances. She told him it was her fault for not taking care of her own mental health. Even though she did go by herself to seek out help for her mental issues, but was diagnosed by a nurse practitioner (that was wrong, she should have seen a psychiatrist) at the time as being bipolar and was put on the wrong medication. That was hell for another two years until she finally got hooked up with a wonderful psychiatrist and test were done and she got the sz diagnoses. I told my son he needed to be kinder and more sympathetic and should not counter everything she says. He says he IS doing that (I don’t see it). He thinks the email exchanges are going well. I told him they were very stressful for her. She cries and gets very depressed after reading them. Several months ago he really told her what he thought of her words and actions and it sent her into psychosis. This breaks my heart, I love both my children but find myself very guarded when talking to him about her. He counters my thoughts also. I am going to consult with her doctor soon and my son wants to be on the phone when I do. I said no, he got upset. Does anyone here ever get the chance to speak with your loved ones psychiatrist? My son thinks I should call her therapist to see how her therapy is going. I told him no on that too. I feel from what she tells me about the therapy and the improvement she’s made that it’s her personal right to speak in confidence with her therapist. I also told him it would violate the patient/doctor confidentiality. He wants me to get a medical release to talk with the therapist. Grrrrrrrrrrr! I know my son loves his sister, but this constant strain with her brother is a big issue for her and me and I don’t know how to handle it. Sometimes I get so tired of going through it with my son, I don’t even bring her up to him which makes him feel left out. Please help me.


Siblings can sometimes be so dense! My ex’s brother, a born again Christian, berates my ex about not working more, not paying his mom enough rent, doing more around the house. He has no recognition of his younger brother’s illness. Thinks he is lazy, etc.

Conicedentally my ex just told me his brother is coming to visit for a few weeks. He lives across the country. My ex is already DREADING it

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When my daughter first became ill, our son was right there trying to help. Here we are 14 years later, he lives out of state, has his own family, and does not ask too often about his sister. I used to think he did not care, but now, it may be just too much for him emotionally. The reality that the illness is here to stay. There are so books on schizophrenia and the impact on siblings. If he seems interested, I would let it be. That fact, standing alone is huge.

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I remember practically begging a couple of my family members to educate themselves about the illness. It was just the worst feeling knowing that people who meant well were not actually being supportive. A few times I got pretty angry and now, I just keep things to myself and those who understand. That contrarian nature of communication described in OP by @dkgreg hurts so much when there are real things that need to be communicated and then finding out they can’t be also hurts.

In a million years I would not try to get confidential information from my family member’s therapist or doctor to a person who is not being supportive, even if the person is another equally beloved and cherished family member like your son.

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Dkgreg. I think it would be extremely helpful for your son to come to this forum and read, read, read. He will learn and understand.

I have a similar reaction from my two older sons about their younger brothers sz. They act like he is lazy and say I baby him too much. They always say they want to visit him never auctually come thru. They had not educated themselves about this illness and I have given up on expecting any help from them. I think it is too hard for them to believe their little brother has SMI. My daughter used to be close to my sz son, but last 4 months he has not wanted anything to do with her, he says she gives him anxiety. The dad is off having his own life completely out of the picture, so that leaves only me.

Day-by-Day, I suggested that idea to my 3 older kids but they have not seemed interested, Exasperated!

Hi Irene. Early on, I started saying things to my husband and my daughter that started with “On the forum, I learned that this illness can cause a person to …”, or “On the forum, I read about a family that had the same issue as us …”, or “On the forum, blah blah blah”.

My husband and my daughter still don’t ever come to read and learn on this forum, for whatever reason, but they do now trust that the info I share with them about our son is legitimate and noteworthy.

This forum has probably way more info than any text book or college course could ever provide. So, maybe just repeatedly quoting from it or sharing stories from it would help teach and inform our family members? I know it’s hard. It’s such a learning curve for all of us.


My oldest son behaves similarly toward his sz brother and thinks I “keep him sick” by helping him as much as I do. It is infuriating and sad and I have no answers, he never sees the progress that his brother makes, or how necessary my help is…if I find anything that works I will post and if you do I would love to hear what you find out. In the mean time “deep breaths” I guess. :frowning:

Yes. And the most frustrating aspect is their inability to see things from another prospective makes things worse yet they refuse to see their role in this–they just blame the MI person.

Correcting delusions is the number one way to make them worse in my opinion. I was told that I just didn’t understand the pain of the cruel delusion…really?! What about the person with the delusion??

I have found limiting the interaction with the person who is (arguably) mentally healthier but unable to let go of the their need to correct and control does wonders for the SZ person.

That said, your son does have the right to say his piece to your daughters therapist, but without a release the therapist will not discuss treatment with him. And just maybe the therapist might suggest he get his own to learn how to deal with his issues of control.


Hi Day-by-Day, Thanks for you reply, I think my daughter may be getting close to coming on forum. We do learn so much from it. I look forward to making time to read from it everyday.


On my side of the family, they get it. My Father became SZ after an accident when I was 9, my brother 12 and my sister 15 so they understand. My husbands family is a totally different story. My Mother in law didn’t understand what was happening with her son. My Father in law was sympathetic to a point but neither one of them gave my husband the respect he deserved from the time he was a small child. No matter how much my husband did for them, it was never enough! Now my sister in law is a whole other story. She has washed her hands of my husband…won’t even bother with him to the extent that she put their mother in a nursing home, has cleaned out the house and is selling it and never spoke to my husband once of her intentions. She left for me a small bag of my father in laws accomplishments from the Air Force to give to my husband. Never a single call or “Hey, how is my brother doing?” And the worse part is that she is a Social Worker for the county and deals with mental illness everyday but has absolutely no understanding of her brother’s illness.

Sounds like your son is trying to help, but in his own way. It will take a while for him to learn and he is going to make mistakes along the way. Every mistake he makes is going to hurt and then again, we made those mistakes too and learn. Sometimes, letting go a little so our children learn more about each other can produce interesting positive outcomes. After all, we will always be there to pick them up and hold them in our arms when they are hurt.

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I am so sorry you are having to go through this as I know it is so sad and awful…my son is so mentally ill that nobody in my family is shocked by anything he does anymore…and sadly I seem to be the only that really cares…everyone is so caught up in their own lives and they dont want to have to bother with him…it puts a lot of stress on the person who does all the caring!..Good luck with your daughter-remember to take care of yourself as this will drain your complete soul and it is easy to lose yourself in the process of trying to handle someone you love so much…I’ve had to be hospitalized over my son in the past as I fell apart…


Fighting the stigma begins with the siblings. For me I give the others a script so they have something to say like last week my son said to the sz affected son “ your voices are not real” so I told him to stop and pause to think before he speaks and to remember to the youngest his voices are very real so he could say things like I am sorry your voices are so bad, intense, aggravating I don’t understand it but I can try to help you” it is a tough battle and yes there are times when the youngest tries to get an easy path but for the most part he tries hard and the other siblings try to understand . Know that this is a continual battle and the more conversations and knowledge you can give the siblings the better it is. As a nurse who used to work in neurosurgery I try to give details on how the brain works or doesn’t and how we can help give them reliable, scientific data and information as much as possible take care praying for your family


This is a hard one for me. My 22 year old son is in the hospital on an NGRI after he assaulted me with a knife. He had been a hard teenager, lots of pot and school issues, although he managed to graduate and get his Eagle rank in Scouts. He was adopted at birth and I have four other children who were adults when we adopted him. Three of the four are sympathetic and empathetic, especially since the assault and the legal ordeal. They speak kindly of my son. The youngest of these four is having a terrible time acknowledging that I have had to care for him in such great depth and resents that I am not available to her family more (they live across the country BTW). She is unwilling to talk about my son or his illness, just avoids being around. They last visited two years ago (before the assault) and I have not heard from her since it happened. She has been in my area at least three times and no contact with me. She has told her friends that I don’t have time for her or my grandchildren. I spent a year recovering emotionally from the assault and am not interested in debating with her whether I have had time for them or not. Right now I’m playing the waiting game, hoping she will come around. I do not miss my daughter and her husbands judgement and insensitiveness, but I do miss my grandkids.


I hear how painful this is for you. My son is an only child, so I am not contending with issues from siblings, but have learned that people in general–even highly intelligent friends–find my son’s mental illness impossible to understand. It is so wearying to have to “inform and educate,” especially when I am so grief-stricken and depleted myself. So basically I give short updates only to those whom I really care about and who are genuinely caring and compassionate, even if confused. One person I assiduously try to avoid is my sister, whose narcissism is so extreme that she says, “What’s the MATTER?” when I do answer her occasional calls. “What’s the MATTER? Are you KIDDING me!!!” I feel like screaming. “I have a child [now 19] with schizophrenia, who has been repeatedly hospitalized, who has a very grim prognosis, and whose life prospects are bleak at best, and you ask me, ‘WHAT’S THE MATTER?’”

I’m not certain which one of us replied that your son would be well-advised to access this site and start reading, but I found that sound advice. There are many people who are not predisposed to “getting it” and who let their misguided perceptions and biases rule their thinking and fuel their anger. As for having your son in on a call with your daughter’s psychiatrist, I doubt that can happen. Is there a social worker involved with whom you and your son might be able to meet? Again, he/she would not be able to release personal information without your daughter’s permission, but it may be one way to start educating him in general. Attending NAMI meetings with him might help, as well. But, again: He may nor may not be able to release his preconceptions and his anger, neither of which are healthy or helpful to you and your daughter. Finally, a good therapist (for you) would be able to advise you on these important issues. I’m not sure how I would get through all of this without my therapist.

Best of luck going forward.


NAMI has an excellent (FREE) program called Family to Family that does a great job of “opening eyes” for family members to understand what their loved one is going through. Until I went through the F2F program, I did not realize how critical my support was for my son’s recovery, and it helped me to understand that some of his bizarre behavior was symptomatic of his illness. Although I’m the only family member who attended the program, I was able to take the knowledge I learned in that course and share it with our family. Thanks to that program, my son’s two brothers are both very supportive and understanding about their brother’s illness.


My four other children all grown and married simply ignore my son. They choose not to be involved and show very little support which is painful for both myself and son.At first they believed I was lying about his illness then called one day when he was in a psychotic state and realized how ill he really was.Still five years later, none show the faintest interest in discussing what he is going through. They I guess are embarrassed to have such an illness in the family. At least his father started to support him which means a great deal to my son.
My son who has two doctors has signed releases so that I can discuss his treatment. I did not ask him too but he wanted me to know what is going on and he also wants me to go with him during his sessions so i am very involved with his medical care. We freely talk and have open discussions on family matters,medicines and everything else going on. This helps a great deal in his treatment as he tells me things he wants to tell his doctors but cannot because his voices which are real people to him will hurt him if he speaks of certain things.His psychiatrist-his main one which he sees at least once a month for 30 to 60 minutes is wonderful and we are very lucky to have found her. His other psychiatrist is a county state doctor who he has to see every 3 months as he is in the adult system of care and receives his injections through them and has been in and out of their mental health facilities for the last 3 years.
I feel it is best to keep anyone away from my son who is non supportive and upsets him. He has had many incidents due to cruel misunderstandings that have sent him into a psychosis.This illness is cruel enough without adding the additional stress of unwanted advice or accusations. Education is always the best way to correct this but unfortunately I have found that people seem not to want to learn about this illness but instead rather want to believe it is not as bad as it really is or its a manipulation ploy.


I believe you are correct, that people do not seem to want to really learn about scz. My husband still struggles with trying to figure out how much is brain disorder and how much is manipulation.

I have to wonder how it can actually matter - any manipulation is due to the scz as well. If he were mentally healthy, mine wouldn’t be doing any of this stuff.