16 thoughts on “8 Ways To Cope With Someone Who Has Delusions

  • March 1, 2017 at 7:35 pm

    I have a neighbour who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and who presents with strongly held beliefs about the medical providers, the government and people she has dealings with in her daily life. These beliefs are centered on her reading of the Bible and her feeling that Satan is controlling all those others who wish to do her harm. She often comes to talk to me over a cup of coffee and I used to try and reason with her about her thoughts. She would get upset and berate me. Eventually I came to the understanding that I feel better when someone listens to me without judging or arguing and I began just to listen to her, not attempting to change her point of view. Generally she becomes much less dogmatic and more settled after we’ve conversed in this way. It isn’t always easy and I don’t always offer the cup of coffee but we have a more trusting relationship.

    • March 4, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      Hi Leaves,
      Very wise! I have experienced both sides as well. When I was starting out as a beginning therapist some years ago, I tried to “challenge” the thoughts of someone who had delusional and strongly held religious beliefs. It did not go well and I regret that I was so inexperienced with this at the time. Your approach is the best approach. You don’t want to condone the delusional thinking but you also do not want to challenge it. Being neutral is often the best approach and you can gain trust just by listening. Sadly, although most people who are religious and hold strong religious beliefs are not delusional, some are. The sad part is that a religious person can be so very confused with a delusional person who holds religious beliefs. It has been a longstanding research “project” for those studying psychosis to pull apart the reasons for why religion is often found among those who are psychotic, even those who have never ever been religious before their psychosis.
      It’s a mystery.

  • March 5, 2017 at 12:57 am

    My son was diagnosed 3 years ago with schizophrenia, bipolar & PTSD. His main delusion is seeing the other side. He sees and hears the dead and those that are still living on the other side. He says that wicked and Godly immortal souls talk to him, threaten him and his family
    If he doesn’t do certain things they will give him a heart attack. I seem to be the one that they threaten as well. He has made threats to me himself. I speak to him on a daily basis and now do everything to avoid getting him to talk this way. He also talks about sexual activity that goes on with children in our family. Everything is anger, killing someone being hurt etc..It is very disturbing. He will not take medication because he completely believes this. We are the ones who can’t see it. Our entire family will not let him around because he has said horrible things to them including talking about there family being killed. I am the only one he has and as a mother, just can’t let him go. He doesn’t understand why no one in the family talks to him. I really need some advice. I’m lost with what to do. Thank you for your time.

    • March 8, 2017 at 12:59 am

      You may want to consider “open dialogue therapy” which you will have to participate in with your son ( Will Hall, one of the authors that publishes on the mad in America website, does it, cognitive therapy for psychosis ( Ron Unger, another author that publishes on the mad in America website, does it ) , or a “hearing voices” support group which is a support group for voice hearers. People can learn to successfully cope with hearing voices. Most people that hear voices never come into contact with psychiatry. The brilliance of open dialogue therapy is that it does not ascribe to a particular diagnosis, your son does not have to believe is mentally ill to take part in the therapy. Also, open dialogue therapy is a collaboration between you, your son, anyone else), and all of his doctors. All decisions are made as a group, including whether psychiatric hospitalization is necessary, so it can be less traumatic for the person the an involuntary hospitalization. Great nutrition (an anti-inflammatory diet) is also critical when treating mental illness, according to the latest research. I cannot emphasize nutrition enough. Have hope ! Because there are treatments that don’t involve taking medication; the above are just an example . Check out the Mad in America website for more information. It’s http://www.madinamerica.com. You may also want to read the book “I am not sick and I don’t need help”. Also, consider that people experiencing psychosis often have a history of trauma. Some people find that once they deal with the trauma, the voices get quieter or disappear and other symptoms of psychosis improve too. You have my sympathy.

    • March 8, 2017 at 11:51 pm

      Hi Terri,
      I am so sorry you are going through this. This is not only emotionally draining but psychologically disturbing for those who are standing by watching this and experiencing it with him. It seems as if your son may have more going on with him than delusions. Delusions are strong beliefs or convictions held to be truly despite opposing evidence. Hallucinations are sensory experiences that occur in an abnormal way. For example, feeling things crawling on the body, hearing or seeing things, etc. Depending on the age of your son, I would pursue therapy with him. If he is an adult, I would strongly encourage him to try therapy or at least medication. If he doesn’t want to do therapy, which I cannot blame most people for avoiding it, medication can help to stabilize his thoughts so that he will not be so “vulnerable” to his illness. Consider medication (that works, of course) as a layer of protection. I encourage you to also check into: http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org which provides resources to parents and families to help them cope with a loved one’s psychosis.

      I wish you all the best and if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.
      Take care

  • March 8, 2017 at 1:17 am

    Oh, the success rate for open dialogue therapy with first episode psychosis is 80%. The link to the study is on the mad in America website. Obviously your son is not in his first episode, but I just want to give you an idea of how much more effective psychosocial treatments are than treatment with medication. Providing psychosocial support is another option. I would also recommend that you get connected with someone with “lived experience” such as some of the writers on the mad in America website that have experienced psychosis. They would be able to give you much better advice than me. Also, there must be a support group for people like you who have a child with psychosis. Support groups are awesome, not feeling alone and this is very important. You must take care of yourself and keep yourself emotionally healthy.

    Unfortunately with mental health care in this country, medication treatment is the norm instead of psychosocial treatment. Back in the 60s when psychosocial treatment was prescribed, people hospitalized with bipolar disorder experienced only one manic episode in their lifetime , the same with depression , only a single episode in their lifetime , not the recurring episodes we see today. There’s a reason why the recovery rates for psychosis are much higher in undeveloped countries than the U.S.A. They rarely use medication and have a completely different attitude about psychosis. I got that statistic from a Mad in America article but I can’t remember which one. We are so used to taking medication for every little symptom or illness that I didn’t know some of these (non-medication) treatments existed until just recently, when mad in America popped up in the list of news headlines that populates when I open my Internet browser. Also check out Mad in Americas continuing education section. All of the talks are free except one.

  • March 8, 2017 at 1:21 am

    Facebook is a good place to find support groups. If you are not on Facebook, just ask a teenager to create a profile for you. Once you have a profile set up, Facebook is pretty easy to use. Talking to other people in the same situation really helps alleviate some of the burden. At least I find that’s the case with chronic physical pain.

    • March 8, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      Hi Becky,
      Thanks for that. I would also suggest that people make their profile “private” if creating a profile for the simple purpose of entering online support groups. I have heard some pretty uncomfortable and potentially dangerous stories! If you take the appropriate measures to ensure you are safe, you should be okay.

  • March 8, 2017 at 1:27 am

    I should say I learned about all this stuff a couple years ago. That’s what I mean by recent. It would’ve been really helpful if I had known this stuff 17 or 18 years ago. Medical science ( studies and clinical trials published in medical journal articles) supports the treatments that I mentioned. So it is evidence-based. Also, if he is taking an antidepressant for depression, consider that we now know antidepressants are little better than placebo. You will find links to those meta-analysis studies on the mad in America website. I have to go to bed but I will post tomorrow night about some treatments for PTSD that you may not have heard of. One treatment is relatively new.

    • March 8, 2017 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you for sharing this Becky. I will look into this.
      Take care

  • March 26, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you for this. My boyfriend was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But his delusional jealous and paranoia seem to have taken over. To the point were his last paranoid episode got him put behind bars. He was put on meds and sounding OK but recently he’s started accusing me of cheating again. I don’t know what to do I’m really his only support system and we share a child together but it’s weighing on me. I’ve tried rationalizing with him but as you stated NOTHING will convince him otherwise. He refused to visit me today and I’m utterly heartbroken. I want so much for him to be well but he doesn’t think anything is wrong… I’m at lost for what to do at this point.I’m starting to think he may be more schizophrenic than bipolar but I’m not sure what’s the difference. But again thank you for the articles it helped ease my worry a bit.

    • March 31, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you Tasha. Thank you also for sharing your story.
      It is very difficult to cope with a loved one who is struggling with psychosis or delusions. The problem often includes 2 things:
      1. The fact that they are over the age of 18 and have the right, according to the state, to make decisions on his own (which may include refusing therapy or medication)
      2. Most often will not see anything wrong with psychotic behaviors.

      Because of these things, a lot of families and marriages struggle. The only hope, at this point, is to get him into see a doctor or therapist. If he feels uncomfortable seeing a mental health therapist, seeing his PCP or medical doctor may be the first step toward him getting help. Sometimes seeing a medical doctor is “less stigmatizing” than a mental health therapist. You could encourage him by saying something like: “I think you should get a physical check up because I’m noticed you are stressed anymore. Maybe we both can get a check up.” Saying something like this may come across to him as normal and caring. You don’t want to trigger his defenses because then he will become completely unavailable.
      Take care

      • March 31, 2017 at 5:20 pm

        Thank you so much. Yes so far he’s seeing a therapist and on medication but I did recommend we go see one together. He’s agreed to do so. I’m praying we can work it out. Thank you again. I love all the info on your website. It’s truly been helpful to me! God bless you!

      • March 31, 2017 at 10:15 pm

        Thank you Tasha. So kind of you. Glad I could be helpful. 🙂
        All the best to you and your boyfriend


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