Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Guilty feelings

My son’s recent diagnosis of schizophrenia obviously has a big impact on the entire famiy, but while my parents are just worried about their Grandson I have developed a feeling of guilt. Could it be that my son is sick because of me?

I have been a single raising Mum from the very beginning. I know very little about my ex boyfriend’s family and their health problems, except that he had ADHD and did drugs. I know that one of my son’s cousins suffers from anxiety. I myself have recurring depression and at times had panic attacs and anxiety. When I was pregnant there was one occasion when I got very drunk, I was already 6 months along and should have known better but I cannot turn back time. I was young and stupid, and several times came close to becoming an alcoholic. Luckily, I was able to snap out of that, alcohol is no longer a temptation for me.

Could it be that it is my fault my son developed schizophrenia? The thought that I could be the cause drives me nuts.

I don’t know if there’s a connection between getting drunk once and someone developing schizophrenia. But you have to ask yourself, “Does worrying about whether you caused his schizophrenia really help the situation in any way? Does it change anything”? The past is the past. Move on. Live your life. Why drive yourself crazy?

No you didn’t give your son schizophrenia. First of all, alcohol causes fetal alcohol syndrome, not schizophrenia. My grandmother was an alcoholic and it gave my father several bone malformations. In the past the medical profession tried to explain schizophrenia through family psychology, and particularly an unhealthy relationship with the mother. That was before they had any idea that there were chemical and physical changes in the brain, and they completely glossed over that most of the ideas ill people had about their mother were paranoid delusions. The idea of schizophrenogenic families and mothers still gets tossed around by people that don’t know that the theory was debunked a very long time ago. I think there was someone on another thread of yours that said she thought it was her mother’s faults or something like that. You should know that schizophrenics always blame the person closed to them for what’s wrong. It’s just something that goes wrong in the brain. The person can’t understand that they’re sick and the only way they can explain it is that it’s the fault of the people near them. For example, when my husband gets ill he thinks that me and our relationship are the cause of his suffering. When it get’s really bad, he thinks if he’s near me it’ll kill him. And then it’s not just me, it’s also our apartment even when I’m not there. That’s how a lot of people end up on the street. So you shouldn’t pay any attention to those sorts of claims. Schizophrenics come from all sorts of families. I know people with a strong genetic predisposition and horrible childhoods who don’t get the disease, and other who come from awesome and super loving families that do get it.

My family is large and my parents are both teachers… didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol… and are still together.

But I still ended up crumbling.


@77nick77 is right… trying to find the blame isn’t going to do much right now.

Now is a time to get to know as much about this illness as possible. It is possible to get life back on track with this illness. It’s not easy… but it is possible. if you are in the states has support groups everywhere and my family got a lot of help and ideas from them when I was not doing well.

Good luck and please be kind to yourself.

I don’t think that’s necessarily your fault but it’s just really cool to hear that alcohol is out of your life. I’m only less than a week sober and I take a medicine called naltrexone to help with cravings and it also completely negates the effects of drinking any form of alcohol.

I realized that I was a severe drunk, and that it was causing me to get really fat from drinking so much beer and that my mental and physical health was leaving me. So now I’m not ashamed to say I’m a quitter.

As for schizophrenia being your fault, like you said the things that happened in the past are the past…and I don’t think one slip up during pregnancy would cause a really horrible effect like schizophrenia.

If your son had like fetal alcohol syndrome from a constant drunken state during pregnancy perhaps then it would raise some eyebrows of people but I think that most of the time these conditions are hereditary, or just chemically induced from natural causes.

I would like to really congratulate you on opening up for things, this can be really scary to know your son is experiencing these things-but you have to be strong for the individual going through these things. He will always love and admire the strength you have to continue helping and understanding.

I wish you the best of luck @neveragain and I sincerely hope you can stay off the booze. It was when I started taking bupropion for my depression that I lost interest in alcohol, I have to say though that luckily, I was never physically addicted.

I know that I am not helping anyone by blaming myself for the situation but I cannot stop the thinking process. It is part of my depression that I tend to look for negative things about myself. I was only released from a mental hospital 5 weeks ago. I would say I am stable, but my son’s diagnosis is a big challenge, to say the least.

But even if I was strong and healthy, I would still be very worried about my son. He has always had mental problems, ever since he was little. I will be there for him, no matter what the diagnosis may be. I love him very much, and I tell him every day.

Mom guilt. It sucks. We blame ourselves for everything…

Sz is NOT a Mothers fault.
That’s an old school fallacy started when doctors had no clue.
It was big in the 60s to blame everything on your mom. Some losers still do instead of blaming themselves for their criminal activities and looking for 2nd, 3rd, 4th chances to stay out of Jail.

I think people sometimes feel guilt because it gives them a feeling of control over an uncontrollable situation. It is easier to blame yourself than it is to admit that something bad happened to someone because of forces beyond your control. That can be scary.

I have a good relation to my mom. It’s not her fault my brain decided to walk on a different path in life. I had an abusive father though. Physical and mental torture. I started hearing voices when I was 15. I had been under excessive stress for a very long time. I did not find a way out of the situation until my mom left him. So did I. I believe my dad is a psychopath.

But I did not get really ill until I was 30. I have no contact with my father since I was 16.

I don’t believe it is his fault either. I’m sensetive to stress. When I stress up I get psychotic. It’s noones fault, it’s my brain that is sensetive.

Don’t blaim yourself. You have done your best. Some things you can’t control, that includes other peoples illnesses. Would you have blaimed yourself if your boy had diabetes or Rheumatoid arthritis? Those are inherited illnesses.

Classic stuff. Right out of…

Bateson, G.; Jackson, D.; Haley, J.; Weakland, J.: Toward a Theory of Schizophrenia, in Journal of Behavioral Science, Vol. 1, 1956.

Bateson, G., Jackson, D., Haley, J.; et al: Perceval’s Narrative: A Patient’s Account of his Psychosis, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 1961.

Esterson, A.: The Leaves of Spring: Schizophrenia, Family and Sacrifice, London: Tavistock, 1972.

Henry, J.: Pathways to Madness, New York: Random House, 1965.

Jackson, D. (ed.): The Etiology of Schizophrenia: Genetics / Physiology / Psychology / Sociology, London: Basic Books, 1960.

Koopmans, M.: Schizophrenia and the Family: Double Bind Theory Revisited, presented at the National Council on Family Relations, 1995; the American Psychological Assn., 1995; and the International Congress of Psychology, Montreal, 1996.

Laing, R. D.; Esterson, A.: Sanity, Madness and the Family, London: Tavistock, 1964.

Lidz, R.; Lidz, T.: The family environment of schizophrenic patients, in American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 106, 1949.

Lidz, T.: The Origin and Treatment of Schizophrenic Disorders, New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Lidz, T.; Fleck, S., Cornelison, A.: Schizophrenia and the Family, 2nd Ed.; New York: International Universities Press, 1985.

Most of the stuff I read in those books and peer-reviewed journal articles resonated with my experience as a child.

What do you mean? That he is sz too or that it’s no wonder I am because of him?

More the latter than the former. The extremely genetically “gifted” child may be more “resilient” and get through a difficult childhood with a minimum of problems in later life. But those of us who were “gifted” with certain unfortunate, genetic predispositions may be more sensitive to what happens in childhood… and more likely to be “stuck” with the results.

There are a fair number of mental health professionals who subscribe to the notion of “spectrum disorders” nowadays. Many of them see sz as just the most extreme of those disorders.


You know all of your sources are at least 20 to 66 years old. In scientific terms that’s a lifetime ago.

Show me yours.

Well, for one, asking someone to prove the opposite of your point, doesn’t make you any more right. None the less a brief internet search and you’ll find that studies with adopted children show a schizophrenia rate that matches their genetic risk, and not the incident rate in the families they are adopted in. (Like in this article from 2001 in the British Journal of Psychiatry- ).

Or you could find this one from 2009 from the US national Library of medicine ( )
The modern twin and adoption studies were instrumental in rejecting psychological hypotheses of schizophrenia causation and became the main foundation for the search of molecular genetic risk factors.”

In any case there is also an environmental factor, nobody knows when or how that trigger works, but abuse and stress certainly can’t help.

There are schizophrenic children of all backgrounds and genetic backgrounds, all cultures and upbringings. If we knew what the causes were of schizophrenia, there probably wouldn’t be so many of us. I wouldn’t sweat it. As my mother’s daughter, if she were to feel guilty she caused my schizophrenia, I would just feel worse about it. I wouldn’t worry about it. It will just bring you and your son down. Stay supportive. Find support for yourself if you think you need it. Everyone deserves personal care.

All I know is what I can see and hear with my own eyes and ears.

You might want to ask yourself if the National Institute of Health is a government-funded agency controlled by politicians answering to campaign donations from Big Pharma.

My point is that what your position is one commonly seen and heard by those out on the front lines who see and hear a very different truth called “nature and nurture” right in front of them.

And if you want more recent evidence, look up Matthjis Koopmans.

@notmoses, I think the family causation idea is just more complex nowadays. I mean, not to put too fine a point on it, the child may have sz because the parent has sz, or the grandparent and so on. Diabetes and sz also run in the same families. And there are degrees of severity. So, for example, my father, whom I loved a lot, was socially withdrawn, often paranoid and had regular delusions that he was being poisoned. He lacked motivation and his cogntive skills declined very suddenly in early adulthood. He became diabetic in old age, and was having “visions” in the last few months before he died. He never saw a psychiatrist, and as far as I know never had psychosis. His children (my generation) share a varied bunch of negative symptoms of sz and have all had experiences we called ‘psychic’. We were also all pretty traumatised by domestic violence from my dad. Two of us have Type 1 diabetes. My son has a psychotic disorder NOS. He became very violent at one point. So the question is whether the sz "in the family’ is the result of trauma or the cause. Or both. In my family, I say it was the cause.

The Big Pharma argument is downright silly. The idea is that they want us to stay ill so that we keep needing their drugs, right? As a diabetic who is frustrated at the lack of progress in research and my dependence on insulin, I once voiced that idea to my son, the one with the psychotic disorder with a tendency to paranoia, and he just said, “No, that would be stupid, because they are competing and only one of them has to find a cure and it would make an immediate massive profit and the rest of them would lose a fortune. And there’s no shortage of diseases to treat.” He’s right.