Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

He will not clean or pick up after himself. Smoking a lot


My son is schizoaffective. He will throw garbage outside sometimes if he is in my car. He will not pick up after himself. He will not clean or wash dishes. He will not organize his clothes. Is this normal for someone who has this illness or is this plain laziness???Does anyone have this problem with their son? He also smokes like a chimney. I need to control his cigarette smoking.


Was he always like this? Or is this something new?

I’m Sz and went through a phase where mundane tasks were unbearable for me. The ‘lazy’ tag isn’t the solution. Getting him on the proper medication is the answer.

I also smoke a lot as well. Good luck.


What you are describing is probably a result of the negative symptoms of his disease. Has a doctor explained negative symptoms to you yet? They make it very hard for many people to keep up with hygiene and cleanliness. They make it very hard to do much of anything. It is not the same as laziness. Willpower is necessary to push through them, but there are only so many struggles a person can win each day. He is probably saving his willpower to keep up with the things that are truly important to him. Everything is a struggle with negative symptoms, even things that are supposed to be fun.

I’m not a big expert, since I dont experience them myself, but @minnii and @comatose might be able to explain better.


If he is smoking a lot, it’s probably a sign that his current treatment is not working.

Self-medicating with nicotine is EXTREMELY common in schizophrenia.

Some info:

In particular: “Nicotine increases release of dopamine, so it is hypothesized that smoking helps correct dopamine deficiency”

The worse I am doing, the more I smoke. The biggest observable giveaway that I am doing worse is when I my smoking, pacing and talking-to-myself start increasing together. In really bad times, I will be up all night, pacing, smoking and talking to myself.

When it gets this bad, things like personal hygiene and cleaning don’t even touch my awareness, they are not even on my radar.

If you are noticing that he smoking like a chimney along with other signs, then his treatment/medication may be failing.


I pick up after myself when I am in public. I do almost no cleaning of my room, though. I let dishes go without washing them. I’ve been this way over forty years. (I’m 57) I live by myself, so I’m not really hurting anyone but myself. There were times when I could have made my life so much better just by doing a little work, but I didn’t do it. I sometimes wonder if the negative symptoms are connected with the “learned helplessness” paradigm. I wash my clothes once a week, and I shower three times a week. I would shower more, but I want to see if I can conserve water, not that we need to in eastern Oklahoma. That’s about all the maintenance on my life that I do. Whether you call it learned helplessness, negative symptoms, or plain laziness, the person in question is the only person who can change himself.


Smoking can be a way to cope. You become calm from smoking and alert. I used to smoke, I now use snus.

Lazy or negative symptoms and unable to think things through…

Negative symptoms looks like laziness for an outsider. I suffer from anhedonia. That is lack of feelings. I have no feelings of happiness or joy. I also lack feelings of depression. I jus am. Nothing more. Very boring. This is my worst symptom. I have been pretending to be happy and joyful. Maybe feelings will come back. Fake it til you make it.

Avolition. You can’t force yourself to do stuff. Anything at all. You can’t make your bed. You can’t do dishes. Put your cloths in the laundry. Think like this, you get to go to an electronic market and pick just one thing, anything you want, piece of cake? Put som pressure on it. You need to do it in less than 5 minutes. You will propably run around like a crazy ferret and in the last second pic the first thing you see. Then you regret your choise because you got an usb memory stick.


This is how it works. You can’t make decisions. You don’t have the willpower to make them either. You lack the award fron doing fun things. Nothing is fun because you don’t get the “kick” in your brain when you do something good or if people say good stuff about you. If you say “Well done! You made your bed!” Will give the same reaction in the brain as “That car is blue!”


It’s not laziness, it’s the negative symptoms of the illness. I’m a bit like that too, I won’t trow trash from the windows of the car but I probably just store it in my pocket and forget to trow it out if I’m not careful.

It’s not easy, but if he realizes he can work the issues, he’ll be able to do things a little at a time.

For me its been like, changing the sheets of the bed and washing my clothes are the most difficult chores, but I do them anyway, my mom tells me to do it like three times before I do it, and I need some incentive.
I always have to do it in the morning, because it’s when I have the most energy to do it.

I have specific chores too, like taking the dishes out of the dishwasher for example, that way I have something to do everyday and keeps me grounded. I always cook the soups in the house, my soup is good and I enjoy cooking, but my avolition sometimes gets the best of me. Like yesterday, I was supposed to cook dinner but didn’t feel like it, so I didn’t. Some days are harder than others, but with work and persistency one can overcome some obstacles.

It helps a lot when our caretakers understand this, and help us a little, not doing the stuff for us but by not getting mad when we don’t do it.

If it helps talk to him, say you understand it’s from the illness but that he also needs to fight it a little, set some ground rules and a cleaning schedule. It helps a lot.

Hope this helps. Good luck.


My son isn’t horribly messy, and he will typically do things when asked, and for now that’s enough. He will load/unload the dishwasher, sometimes with a prompt. For things that can’t go in the dishwasher he is doing well putting them to soak to make it easy for me to wash up. Clothes go into the laundry basket, trash in the trash can. For some reason, recycling is lined up on the counter instead of in the bin, but he is rinsing it. Its enough to make it workable.


I don’t know how old your son is, but mine is twenty. He has never been obsessively clean so I wouldn’t expect that of him now. When the moment hit him, premorbid, he could organize and clean the heck out of his instrument room.

Now he is living with his mother, me, and many of his friends have said “Adios dude, cause you don’t make sense anymore”, and he has no job. So I remind myself that given that scenario, the last thing I would want to do is clean a house. Probably the very last.

So, my advice, if I may do so. If you are nagging, stop. It’s only making things worse. If he was clean before the disease, he has it in him, but having Mom tell him it has to be done isn’t going to be the motivator.

When I quit trying to control this scenario, my son started doing things because he wanted to. Not a lot, but dishes in the sink, take trash out, more items in the trash than on the floor, etc. It’s the sign of something good.

Need to rethink these two words. Have you been to NAMI?
Stay calm if you can. You need to take care of yourself and gain your own self control before you will be of any help to him. Big hugs and I’m only harsh because I’ve been there and still am.


Hello roseo…My son is sz but because I’ve learned so much about the illness and have a much better understanding of it that I currently allow my son to pace and smoke all day. After 2 suicide attempts what can I do for him but love him, accept his illness, and always offer more help(when he is ready of course). I am just so thankful he is still alive. I know as caretakers we go through a lot and it is heartbreaking to see but just think of the pain and quality of life they have to live. As for the smoking I feel like it is a big crutch for my son, so I don’t even nag about it. He even tried the patch on and off but its not the same. Smoking is the only thing he does through out the day. He tried working a few different jobs recently but couldn’t handle.


I suffer from schizophrenia paranoia. It sounds to me like it is a symptom of his illness. The symptom is called anhedonia. Normally, there is a lack of motivation to do anything. What you describe is not out of the ordinary for us sufferers. Something like 75%+ of people suffering from schizophrenia are smokers and as a guestimate I’m willing to say about 75% are or have been heavy smokers. You sound like a very supportive and caring parent. Thank you for that, I wish you the best.