Understanding Your Loved Ones with Schizophrenia
By Limus Woods
There can be lots of confusing feelings that can occur between family members who have a loved one with schizophrenia, whether it is a child or an adult that has the disease. Michelle D. Sherman, Ph. D. put together a piece of literature for the Department of Veterans Affairs that helps those who aren’t diagnosed with it themselves to understand relatives who may possibly be causing a negative social impact within their immediate families, especially if they reside in the same household.
For example, one thing that they must remember is that whoever is suffering from schizophrenia is experiencing thoughts and emotions that are not real. It’s a known common occurrence that a brother and a sister may bicker and argue about small things that they will forget about quickly. A sibling who has the disease, though, may take it to the next level, and may even start to feel a hatred that lasts for hours at a time.
If the sister is, say, watching television, and her brother wants to look at a certain show but she had the remote first, she may feel frightened at his extended time being angry at her, and how overboard he may have gone in the situation. It may not be so easy for a parent or guardian to resolve it by simply saying that he should wait his turn. Dr. Sherman suggests that it would help greatly if, instead of responding with how improper the diagnosed child’s behavior is, the parents instead respond with remarks that are more set into what is happening in reality right there in the moment.
If, for example, the brother calls his sister selfish, or a spoiled brat, or describes her as always getting what she wants, the parent should not respond to what the boy believes to be true. What spews out of his mouth in those heated minutes are not fact, and the parent shouldn’t entertain them. Instead, they should make an offer to sit with him for a while after acknowledging that they recognize how he is feeling. Dr. Sherman says that they could tell him that they’ll stay with him until he feels better instead of trying to prove to him that he was wrong in how he was acting, since they know that his strange, anger-amplified thoughts aren’t real at all.
Sherman, M. Ph.D. 2014. Session Four – Schizophrenia and its Impact on the Family. Department of Veteran’s Affairs PDF. Retrieved from http://www.ouhsc.edu/safeprogram/04schizophrenia.pdf
- Schizophrenia. Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health PDF. Retrieved from http://www.k12.wa.us/MentalHealthandSchools/pubdocs/MHFactSheetsCompSet.pdf
- Schizophrenia Disability Fact Sheet. Open Door Group PDF. Retrieved from http://www.opendoorgroup.org/pdf/SCHIZOPHRENIA_Fact_Sheet.pdf
World Mental Health Day. Retrieved from http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/un/world-mental-health-day