Thoughts on participating in our loved ones delusions

Greetings to all, first time with you. My 28 year old daughter was diagnosed with SZA in 2014. These have been tough years, I know you all can relate. As I was driving her home last week from one more, of too many to count, appointments for blood work to rule out STD’s, I wondered if this has been an issue for anyone else? When she is in psychosis, which lasts longer each episode, this is where her mind goes-she is certain someone has “planted” an STD on her. I have even taken her to an ENT specialist (that her psychiatrist knew personally) as she was certain she had been given throat cancer. There isn’t a possibility of this occurring, sadly she is quite isolated and has one or two trusted friends she sees rarely. My husband and I do our best to use the LEAP practices with her when it comes to her delusions, but is there a point when we are actively taking her to prove something that is not feasible that we are doing her a disservice?

I don’t think modeling reality-testing is doing her a disservice per se, as long as her concerns are treated with empathy and confidentiality by those involved. It may be doing someone’s wallet a disservice, but not hers unless it’s her wallet.

I had similar concerns of my own related to HIV during my first hospitalization with a SZA diagnosis. I mentioned it to a doctor at discharge time, and he said it was unlikely after he listened to my convoluted explanation of how I might become infected without judgement. He said I looked healthy and suggested I donate blood, as that would ensure my blood be tested and would benefit the blood supply without undo risk and give me piece of mind. Win win.

Depending on the progression of illness/recovery this kind of modeling can be helpful in the long run if she can transfer these reality-checking skills to other aspects of her illness, or perhaps extinguish the behavior outright. As I progressed in recovery, I became better at estimating the likelihood of possible delusions and whether I had reasonable ways of testing these realities without “blowing my cover”, and if not, make a sort of cost/benefit analysis if expending mental energy on them was worthwhile.


I dont think so…its just inconveinient for you

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Well yes, it’s our wallet not hers, and I am fortunate to be available to get her where she needs to go. Being honest, it’s more about the frustration my husband and I feel in doing it at times. Her fear and paranoia is so strong that typically, even with the negative test results, she continues to doubt. So it becomes “what’s the point?”.

How fortunate to have come across a physician that, having listened, offered such a good suggestion. I hope that eventually she will be able to question her need for these tests, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

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The point is in my experience if delusions cease at all they don’t disappear—they fade.

I like to use the analogy of belief in Santa Claus. Kids don’t stop believing in him all at once, it takes time. In this case you’re hoping your child will grow a little each time beliefs are challenged, rather than hoping they’ll hang onto childhood just a little longer.


Right. Exactly. Any suggestions on what to say during these tense, anxious drives to the lab? Reassuring her that I’m sure she’s ok doesn’t help of course, just makes her angry. I have learned to tend to be silent but any perspective is appreciated.


I’d be inclined to talk about anything but the issue at hand. You’re trying to make her comfortable, not trying to get her to come to an “aha moment” and ask you to turn the car around, or tell her “I told you so” on the way home. I know I kinda hated being seen as someone’s “project” or good deed for the day or whatever. There’s a degree of wanting things to just seem normal even when objectively they aren’t, so best not to make a big deal of things if possible.

One thing I will mention is some caregivers find drive-time a venue where people under their care like to talk and open up. I know I’ve had some important discussions with family members while driving that might not have happened otherwise. My sister had a habit of taking her kids (and myself at times) for drives for them to escape situations and cool-off while discussing their behavior and how they might have handled situations better. There’s something about the road noise that has a calming effect and if you are prone to paranoia about eavesdropping or being followed, it’s among the more difficult places I can think of for surveillance.


Yes, I know she feels she is a burden and dislikes having mom “transport” her. And I guess, really, there isn’t much that can be said in this situation. Excellent advice, many thanks.

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