My Best Friend Thinks I’m Schizophrenic

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m in therapy and have been diagnosed with depression and I’m currently taking Prozac, which seems to be working, despite giving me a terrible tremor. I’ve had some problems with my best friend lately because he thinks that some ideas I’ve been having are signs of a more serious mental illness. I’ll lay out the basics of what I’ve been thinking and tell about what I need help with.

I am a prophet. I was sent by someone, whom I don’t believe was the God of Judeo-Christian belief, to change the world. First, birds are to be domesticated so much that their intelligence is almost on par with that of humans. This will happen when I build a bird house with color-by-number wallpaper, that includes, but is not limited to, since I haven’t drawn up blueprints yet: a toilet that the bird will learn to use like a human, a clawfoot bathtub that the bird will control on its own, a refridgerator, where the bird can store its water, cabinets, plates and silverware for the bird to store its food and to eat off of/with, a television set so the bird can learn common human idioms, a pipe for the bird to smoke, and books for the bird to read. It will begin with an African Grey Parrot, because they’re smart and have a greater learning capacity and once I’ve taught at least one of that species, the rest should be easy. Any birds not taught by the time I die will be killed so as to not taint the rest of the birds with their lower intelligence. Whilst working on this, I will finish school and go to college where I will major in archeology with a minor in marine biology. Then I will begin working to discover the lost city of Atlantis. The natives there will also be able to help humans. Teaching the birds will speed up evolution and make the world less dominated by humans, because that obviously isn’t working with the state we’re currently in. Also, once Atlantis has been discovered, the merpeople there will be able to help humans evolve to be able to live aquatically without the help of underwater breathing apparati. Whoever sent me implanted my brain with a camera so they could watch what was happening and know how my quest was going at all times, hence the seeming unreality of everything in my life. They also imbedded either a controlling device or a chemical of some sort that began working when they realized I was ready for my mission to begin. A conspiracy has been formed by whoever is the equivalent of Satan to whoever sent me, and currently has growing membership. The conspiracy’s job is to demoralize me, steal my ideas and to ruin my friendship with my best friend, Jacob. They also implanted my brain with voices that laugh at me and try to scare me with songs about hurting my family and such. At this time, it seems they’ve won, though I feel that once I’ve talked to my psychopharmacologist, Celeste, and helped her realize the direness of my situation, she’ll be able to help me and I will once again be on the road to changing the world.

My best friend Jacob thinks that these are signs that I’m currently having either a psychotic break or a manic episode. I disagree, but I thought maybe a professional opinion might be good. Thank you.

A. While I cannot know for certain whether or not you are experiencing a psychotic break, I believe, based on what you have written, that you should be evaluated by a mental health professional. Your thinking does not appear to be reality based. You may be experiencing psychosis. Your ideas are grandiose. You seem to be experiencing delusions, hallucinations, voices and paranoia. I will detail your specific symptoms below.

Delusions are erroneous beliefs that typically involve individuals misinterpreting reality or experiences. The delusions you have mentioned include:

  • You believe you are prophet here to change the world through the manipulation of birds. This would be considered a grandiose type of delusion.

  • The idea that someone has implanted a camera in your brain to watch you at all times. This would be considered a persecutory delusion; these are the most common types.
  • Your belief that a controlling device or chemical is leading your mission. This would also be considered a persecutory delusion.
  • Your belief that voices have been placed in your brain for the essential purpose of mocking you and hurting your family. This again would be categorized as a persecutory delusion. The voices might also be considered auditory hallucinations.

There is also evidence of paranoia, which is another symptom of schizophrenia. You mentioned a possible conspiracy against you. According to your view, someone as evil as Satan is attempting to steal your ideas and ruin your friendship with your friend Jacob. Thought withdrawal is also symptomatic of schizophrenia.

More specifically, you seem to be exhibiting the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia are considered in excess, relative to one’s normal way of thinking and functioning. Some individuals with schizophrenia also experience negative symptoms. Negative symptoms are those characteristics that are absent from one’s normal level of functioning. Your possible delusions, hallucinations and paranoia are symptoms that are in excess (i.e. in addition to) of a normal level of functioning.

You also mentioned the possibility that you may be experiencing mania. Based on your letter, I do not see strong evidence of mania. Some of the symptoms of mania include euphoria, increased energy, heightened sex drive and impulsivity. The possibility of mania cannot be ruled out on the basis of a short letter but nothing you wrote led me to believe that you are experiencing mania.

You are in treatment with a psychopharmacologist. She is prescribing Prozac which seems to be causing a negative reaction. She needs to be made aware of this. I would also strongly suggest that you bring her a list of your current symptoms. In fact, you could just give her a copy of this letter because it outlines your symptoms in specific detail. Please also consider being evaluated by a psychiatrist and possibly a therapist.

It is imperative that you seek treatment for possible psychotic symptoms. The worst decision you can make is to do nothing. Psychosis typically does not go away on its own. In fact, it tends to become progressively worse over time and that is why it’s important that you do not delay treatment.

I hope this answers your questions. Please consider writing back and letting me know how you are doing. I understand that it can be difficult to accept the possibility that your perception of reality is inaccurate. An individual experiencing psychosis believes wholeheartedly in what they are thinking. It can be very frightening but now that you have had an objective opinion it is important to be further evaluated and treated for your possible psychotic episode. Please take care.

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Sep 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). My Best Friend Thinks I’m Schizophrenic. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 28, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/09/22/my-best-friend-thinks-im-schizophrenic/