My Mother Has Schizophrenia, Please Help

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Good day. I am an 18 year old Pakistani girl.My mother has been receiving treatment for schizophrenia for almost 25 years .She is a very unique case . She was an extremely brilliant student and was admitted to a well reputed medical college . There , she was unable to adjust because of a sort of phobia of flesh and dead bodies( which were included in anatomy dissections ),watching deliveries worsened her condition leading to a decision of abandoning the medical studies. She graduated privately and joined the teaching profession. She had always been an aggressive person .She was also very arrogant as “she was a perfect beauty with brains” women. Finding out about painless delivery she agreed to get married .She married my father( it was an arranged one).She has revolting point of views about religion, and lives in her own fantasy world .She sort of thinks that every man is after her. She also thinks that people are conspiring against her. She hates her her mother and her brothers .She has been receiving treatment from various psychiatrists but nothing has helped much.She is currently in an institution called Fountain house. But she does not cooperate much with her therapists as she thinks that she is much more intelligent than them.She does not accept her disease and thinks she has Insomia only. Another thing is that she cannot sleep for more than 3 hours a night without medicines. Presently she is taking 5 anti- psychotics .The names and doses are listed below:
ziapine 100 mg 4 daily
seductil 100 2 daily
Ativan 2 daily
Neurolith 1 daily
Dosik 5 mg 1 daily
Kempro 5 mg 2 daily
Clonatril 2 mg 1 daily
Injections ( fortnightly)
Zyclidine 10 mg
Fluefin
Please do not disappoint me. I am myself a medical student and an only child .Dealing with my mother becomes very challenging as she is very very aggressive at times. Thanking you.

A. I am not certain of your exact question and therefore can only provide a general answer. I have answered many similar queries regarding schizophrenia. You may find it helpful to read through some of my previous answers. Many of my answers about schizophrenia and its impact on families can be found by clicking this link.

Schizophrenia is often considered a family problem. This is because schizophrenia typically has a profound impact on the family. The most comprehensive treatments for schizophrenia usually include the involvement of family members, in some capacity. Based on your letter, I did not get the impression that your mother’s treatment incorporates family involvement. The primary treatment modality for her seems to be medication. I would recommend speaking with her treatment team. Inquire about whether it would appropriate or helpful for you and your family to be part of her treatment plan.

Having a family member with schizophrenia, who refuses treatment, can be very frustrating for the rest of the family. They struggle to understand why their loved one would refuse the very treatment that could make them better. An individual’s refusal to participate in treatment or to recognize that they have an illness makes them seem “difficult.” Families often (understandably) react to the “difficult” family member with frustration and anger. That frustration and anger can unfortunately lead to chaos in the family.

What is important for families to understand is that approximately 50 percent of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia cannot recognize they are ill. This is due to a neurological deficit called anosognosia. Anosognosia affects the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is used for insight and understanding of one’s needs. If an individual does not believe they have an illness, they may (and often do) refuse treatment. Individuals with schizophrenia do not refuse treatment in an attempt to be “difficult.” Anosognosia blocks an individual’s ability to recognize that they have an illness. You can read about anosognosia in Xavier Amador’s book: I Am Not Sick I Don’t Need Help! For a deeper understanding of anosognosia and related medical conditions, consider reading a truly fascinating book called Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee.

If your mother is aggressive toward you, then you may have to limit how often you interact with her. You may want to discuss how best to approach this with the hospital/residential living facility staff. It is important to visit your mother and to be part of her life but boundaries have to be set if she is physically or verbally abusive toward you.

I would recommend educating yourself more about schizophrenia and how it affects family members. I realize that you are not living in the United States but you may find a lot of helpful information on the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website. NAMI specializes in support and psychoeducation for family members who have a loved one with schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. Helpful books include: Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients and Providers by E. Fuller Torrey and The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia: Helping Your Loved One Get The Most Out of Life by Kim T. Mueser.

If you have a more specific question, please do not hesitate to write again. I will be happy to answer any additional questions that you may have. I wish you well. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Jan 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). My Mother Has Schizophrenia, Please Help. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/01/09/my-mother-has-schizophrenia-please-help/

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