Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

My son's fears me(Dad)

That is to say initially he had delusional thoughts that still cause him to fear me. Delusions ranging from thinking I was going to harm him. or that I am controlling his thoughts among some other odd ones, But while being treated (in-patient) they became, in his words “a voice moving farther away”

All his life my son has spend half time with me and half time with his mother. (a situation from what I’ve read increases the chances for mental health issues) but not my main point. He’s sixteen, good kid, good grades 3.8+, in football, knowledge bowl, band, choir. Sorry, dad bragging!

It all started(delusions-psychosis–>ER—>in-patient) four months ago so please forgive my newness. He was diagnosed with schizophreniform and anxiety disorder. It was not until his second in-patient stay when he first declined my phone calls and my visits. OK That sucked. But not his fault. It’s delusions. And before he was discharged he was accepting my calls and visits. Then only a few days later he tells his therapist the delusions focused on me are back. To the extent that his therapist recommended “to give him a little time”. Meaning that I do not contact him nor see him for the next “couple of weeks”. The no contact part bothered me. But I was assured it was all part of the process. (I thought how oddly fortunate that his mother and I are not together or I would of had to move out, I guess). So two weeks pass at which point his therapist tells me things are improving but my son still has paranoia and anxiety towards me. And doesn’t recommend him living with me yet. But it’s ok to contact him and that these things take time. That was two months ago.

I’m sure my knowledge is limited at best. I’ve heard sometimes it’s a medication issue. Also some delusions persist regardless. Directly challenging a delusion rarely works. But delusions should not be dismissed or validated either. Which finally brings me to my point/questions/conundrum.

As I understand it the medication takes away the delusions but he is still left with the knowledge of once believing that I was “out to hurt him”. Which makes him anxious, embarrassed and confused. It seems to me that to staying away just reinforces his fears. Just sitting on the sidelines does not feel right I keep watching his grades fall. His school attendance fall below 50%. And can’t help but think that my influence would net a more positive than negative effect on my son. Or perhaps I’m just whining, think too highly of myself or just don’t understand.
Any comments, criticizims, or info would be greatly appreciated.


Such a terrible situation for you. I’m sorry.

If you were all living in the same household, I don’t think the treatment team would have expected you to move out. I think the problem here is that they don’t want your son living with you alone, without the “safety person” (his mother) present as well. Is that right?

So often I’ve read on this forum that dads are the targets of the main paranoid delusions. It’s the same in our family. I’m the safety person (usually) and my husband is the target/trigger. When symptoms are flaring, my husband just has to avoid. It is what it is.

The right medication, over the right amount of time, will help delusions fade, but they don’t always go away. They pop back up during “bad cycles” At least that’s how it’s been for us. Our son is 22 and he’s been on steady meds for well over a year.

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I’m not sure of the reasoning behind it but that sounds reasonable. I should ask more question instead of just trying to argue against it. It’s only a therapist as opposed to a team. But I like the sound of that. Like I said I’m a newbie. More research.
Until now I had not come across something similar. This does not seem right to say but it’s a little better knowing that it’s not totally uncommon.
So if delusions are random and not based on reality and can be anything. Why then would the vast majority of them fall into only a handful of categories. It seems unlikely something so random would even have categories.
Thank you for your response.
I’m glad to hear a positive tone coming from you and your world.

I’m glad you heard a positive tone. You caught me on a good day. I still struggle though, even 3 years after onset.

I don’t know why the same delusional “themes” seem to be so common amongst our ill family members, but they certainly are. The more you read on this forum, the more you’ll learn. Knowledge is extremely important.

You can search any topic, by word or phrase, and a load of threads will come up.

Previous to Haldol, my daughter’s meds (3 hospitalizations) did not help her delusions about my husband (her step-dad) at all, and unmedicated, she hated him. That was for 99% of the last three years. However, on Haldol injections (hospitalizations 4 and 5) afterwards for 30 days each time (1 year apart), that delusion faded, along with most symptoms, and they got along fine.

Hospitaliation 2, 2 years ago, she hated me too, and refused to see me, and the hospital suggested that I not visit, but that I write letters. I was told she read all of my letters, but she would not call or let me visit. Hospitalizations 1 and 3, she sometimes saw me, but those meds didn’t help her delusions.

Unmedicated (most of the last 3 years), living at home, she never spoke to my husband except in anger and rarely spoke to me, sometimes for weeks. Using LEAP from Dr. Amador’s book, I’m not Sick, I don’t Need Help, communication slowly improved with me to twice daily or more, but not with my husband. Medicated now, she is 90% or more recovered even from delusions.


@RCV - While in the hospital and just prior my son thought both his father and I were imposters. My son didn’t want to see me while he was in the hospital. I went anyway and I got in by bringing him something that belonged to him (any thing really - clothing, books whatever I could bring). He was so attached to his things that he would let me in just to hand him the item. Then I would just sit there and observe or talk to other patients. The doctor never told me not to come. But I guess I wasn’t necessarily a trigger. Maybe you could write your son a note or bring pizza to him and him mother and say you are just dropping it off? Or have it delivered and text him that you are having a pizza delivered? I’m sure the doctor knows best but maybe just do some small things to let your son know you are thinking about him and available if he wants to see you? Just some ideas.


Thank you for sharing. And for the info on LEAP.

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Those are good ideas. Unfortunately his mother does not recognize this as part of the illness so that adds another level of complexity.

Well it takes time to figure it all out. My sons father wouldn’t go as he couldn’t handle the rejection. Have you been able to see your son yet?

Without reading the other replies, I think that staying away will only reinforce his delusions about you. I would reach out, via phone calls and visits . Even if he rebuts your efforts, there may come a time when he recognizes that you are there to help.

I base this opinion on my years of living w my Sz husband. I witnessed him having delusions about different relatives, and then he’d hear from them and it made a positive difference in his delusions.

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I am so sorry to hear how much you have been through already. I understand as our son too feared his father when he was delusional. He has been on Clozaril now for over 18months and also worked with a program called EPI center (early psychosis intervention ) . He is back to loving his father as he always has , going to hockey games together and they walk our dogs every night for a bit of exercise. It has been a very long painful journey and there is hope. At times when he was psychotic , he would leave the house as he feared for his life here and I would drive around to find him. At one point, I put him up at a hotel to assure him we loved him and if you love someone you want them to "feel " safe. I did this as I needed sleep and felt the safest thing I could tolerate was paying a hotel night for him. I just kept telling him his Dad loved him and yet he kept running when not medicated. He is now living happily and safely in our home, works part time and is back to taking a class at a community college. It is still unbelievable to me and I know recovery from the delusions and positive symptoms is possible for him with meds. He struggles still markedly with the ongoing negative symptoms and cognitive skills. One day at a time!


I’m sorry, I know it hurts. My son (22) is living with his Dad right now, and never answers my texts or e-mails. I haven’t tried to call him since June because my last call lasted about 20 seconds. Also, he rarely answers. However, I’ve been to see him twice (he’s a few hours away), and I believe the visits do help. I was there recently and he refused to get out of bed for several hours, and was standoffish after that. But eventually he thawed a little, and we talked pretty normally for a bit before I left (not about anything emotionally charged - I tried hard to stay away from anything like that). I think that he feels like I want to control him and make him do things he doesn’t want to do. There may be some basis of truth in that in the past, but now I’m really open to giving him time to figure things out for himself - but I don’t think he believes it yet.

It does hurt because we used to be close, and he was less close to his Dad. But honestly this is the best situation for all of us right now - they’re getting along, which is really great, and he seems to be functioning better than he has in a year. He seems to take “nagging” from my ex better than he does from me.

I text him funny things and pictures of our pets occasionally, and I let him use my credit card to buy lunch out when he feels like it. I hope that eventually it will remind him that I love him and am on his side.

I’m my son’s trigger and I think sometimes when you are very close to someone it’s a way for them to break away at some level. It’s hard not to take it personally because you love him dearly. I just keep asking myself what’s best for my son and not for me. Trying to participate in NAMI support groups which helps you realize this is a very common symptom and although it sucks doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.