Not schizophrenic any more

The mother of my grandson (I am the custodian and guardian) was diagnosed about 6 years ago and ended up in prison for some violence. Now she’s back out and has told us that she’s not schizophrenic;it was just drugs that she was being given.

I worry that she will stop her medications if she believes she is no longer schizophrenic. I don’t know what I expect from these forums but I’m at a loss of how I should handle this. She clearly wants to start seeing her child again but I’m reticent to dive into that unless I’m confident she is not a threat. Family was the target of her previous episode.

Is it at all realistic that she’s not schizophrenic but was just drugged? Wouldn’t multiple psychiatrists have picked up on that, especially if she was restricted from drugs in prison?

Please let me know your thoughts.

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Hi Tiare, welcome to the forum. One of the symptoms of schizophrenia is anosognosia. Anosognosia is a common symptom, around 60% of our family members have this symptom. Anosognosia is a “lack of awareness or insight” which simply means the sufferers of the symptom are unable to understand or perceive that they are suffering from a brain disorder.

If I were you, I would be doubtful that she was misdiagnosed until time proves otherwise. Enter “anosognosia” into the search area on the upper right for more information. There is a lot of information on the forum. Best to you, hope

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Welcome Tiare,

In addition to a high likelihood of anasognosia, full remission of properly diagnosed persons is unlikely, but not impossible. There are at times diagnoses of temporary drug-induced psychosis, but these are relatively rare, with durations of a year or two or less and associated with chronic use of, or high sensitivity to, a handful of specific drugs.

Studies also report a small fraction of diagnosed people who undergo spontaneous remission after 10 or more years of chronic illness. It’s possible I may be one of them, as I’ve been symptom-free for about 8 years and have been diagnosed for over 30. Yet I still take medication in small doses, and have regular psychiatric visits. I consider this cheap insurance.

Delusions related to medication are common among people with chronic schizophrenia. Common themes are it poisons them, causes their mental illness, other illnesses or other imagined harm to them. There’s a certain logic to these complaints, because side-effects are common, but likely as not they may be falling into a correlation is not causation logical fallacy. In their mind the one new thing they are doing is taking medication, so the flawed logic is the medication must be the source of all their problems.

Additional thoughts: age at time of onset, number and duration of episodes and remissions and severity of episodes may help frame the odds of recovery. It would also be important to know what drug(s) she feels “caused” her diagnosis. Once I collected this information, I might be inclined to consult with a psychiatrist and ask if her scenario is plausible.

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Thanks MB, you are the best.

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In my personal opinion, I feel that if family was the target of her violence or efforts in the past, it could happen again in the future. You are right to be wary.

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If she is granted visitation to start I would ask that someone to be in attendance, for safety reasons. I am assuming she is on some kind of probation or has a counselor she has to see. Hoops she has to jump through to get out of jail. I doubt that her problems are just drug related, as you said she has been in jail for 6 years and they observed issues also or they would not have medicated her I would hope.
Also if you could make it as part of the deal that she needs to be on medication to see her child. But there is no way for you to assure she is taking them or that they are truly working.
Sorry I know I did not help you. I am sorry your grandchild has to go through this and they are lucky to have a caring grandparent to take care of them and watch out for their safety. You are looking at this the right way I believe. They’re safety first, mentally and physically.

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Thank you everyone for your input.

We are currently trying to decide if we should make her file with the court to see him in person or if we should allow it without a court order. Of course, the courts and prison system say she has to do this/that/the other but they don’t have the people necessary to make sure she is living up to the orders so I worry she will discontinue the treatments regardless of the orders if she is suffering anasognosia.

Since the courts can order virtually anything (they could even say she gets custody back!) I am leaning towards voluntarily having supervised visits with a re-introduction counselor. Perhaps we can find one who has experience with schizophrenia/mental disorders who will also be able to advise us if they see any behaviors.

nothing is ever easy!

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Every decision you have to make in controlling another person’s life is very hard. No one knows your situation better than you. I feel you will make good decisions. Trust yourself.

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