Q. My father is approaching fifty, and when I still lived with my parents, he seemed to me very unstable and difficult to live with. Some of his behaviour is just outrageous in retrospect, but it’s amazing, my family chooses to ignore it and never talk about it. First off, he has told me that he can hear my thoughts. I’m serious! And he was completely serious as well. He gave me specific examples and said that sometimes my thoughts “weren’t always good”. Apparently he has “heard” my thoughts since I was 12, so that is about 6 years. To me this gives a good explanation for some of his more random outbursts, as he would often accuse me out of nowhere for being rude/having a bad attitude though I would just be sitting silently. Or even laughing and having a good time! I remember once on a family vacation/car trip I was joking around with my sister and he randomly decided to tell me he didn’t like my sense of humor, and said that he’d be “happier if I didn’t exist”, in a very calm manner. When he used to get into his “rages” he would often accuse me of trying to drive him insane; to him all my actions were designed to drive him crazy. He would often turn off the power randomly so that I couldn’t do homework or watch tv, with no explanation. Once he even turned off the water in the middle of my shower, and then told me he would only turn it on if I stayed in there for exactly 30 seconds, and he timed it, too. I still have no clue why. I’m not expecting you to have all the answers, I am just curious if this sounds like any specific mental disorder or if he is just a jerk or what? To me he seems almost narcissistic, he’s right/you’re wrong/you’re weak/he’s strong, etc..but can you have hallucinations if you have that disorder? He also smokes marijuana quite heavily, if that has any bearing. Really I should not care anymore, but I am just trying to move on in life and forgive him, and I feel that if he really does have a mental disorder, then I can excuse his behaviour in my mind and just forget about it! Also, he is still together with my mother, and I often worry that he’s going to go off the deep-end.. er.. even
A. Marijuana is a hallucinogen. Heavy use of marijuana can produce paranoia and certainly distorted thinking. If he believes that he can actually hear what you are thinking then he is truly psychic or delusional. But perhaps he meant that he “knew what you were thinking”. Obviously if you know someone well, then you can tell with the facial expressions, eye contact or lack of eye contact, orientation of their body and many, many other nonverbal factors, what they are communicating. They are communicating something to you through nonverbal means, perhaps which is what he meant. It’s impossible to say what part you may have played in all of this i.e. if you had fights with him or if you said things to him that were mean or cruel, if you antagonized him or deliberately tried to annoy him or gave him an attitude. I am not accusing you of these things I am simply saying I do not know. His behavior may not be atypical if the things I mentioned are true. Magical thinking is a symptom of schizophrenia but I cannot conclude that what you have described in your letter is magical thinking. I hope this helps.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 May 2005
Randle, K. (2005). Is my dad displaying psychotic symptoms?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 18, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2005/05/04/is-my-dad-displaying-psychotic-symptoms/