Brother Hears Voices But Refuses Treatment

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My brother is 51 & his behaviour was so bad last weekend that my father, aged 83 called the local Mental Health Association. They came by, called the Police. The Police handcuffed Chris, took him to Emergency. They let him go. The Mental Health Act. Chris hears voices, says the voices get out of control. My dad is 83, very disturbed about this. How can I persuade Chris to get help. He also has psoriasis, refuses to see his Doctor. If I can persuade Chris to see his doctor for psoriasis, could I perhaps talk to the doctor privately? Get the doctor to open up a dialogue? Chris is very obese, refuses to work. Refuses to leave home. Talks about the ‘telephone system in my head’ talks about killing people. Has times of extreme rage…Help. Please.

A. I am sorry to learn about your difficult situation. Unfortunately, the scenario you are facing is very common, especially in America. I am not familiar with the Canadian mental health system. Generally, in the American mental health system, an individual must be homicidal or suicidal to be admitted into a hospital involuntarily. Not all states have such strict standards but the essence of most laws in the United States is that an individual has to be very ill before they can be hospitalized against their will.

It is unlikely that you will be successful in “persuading” your brother to undergo treatment. In most cases, it will be a frustrating and unwinnable battle. You can and should try everything you can think of but understand that it will likely be difficult. If he is actively psychotic, then he is unable to think clearly. It is difficult to successfully utilize logic and reason with an individual who can’t process logical or reasonable thoughts.

Your brother has extreme periods of rage and has mentioned killing people. He is unwilling to seek treatment on his own and he is out of control. This makes him a potential danger to your family and to others. In this case, you should not hesitate to call the authorities.

My advice is to continue to call the authorities as many times as necessary. At this time, your brother may be a danger to other people. Be certain that the authorities are aware of this fact.

I would also encourage you to search for Canadian mental health system Internet resources. In America, there are advocacy organizations such as the National Alliance For Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Treatment Advocacy Center, both designed to help family members who have a loved one with a mental illness, navigate the mental health system. Here’s a link to the NAMI Ontario website.

I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jul 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Brother Hears Voices But Refuses Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/07/29/brother-hears-voices-but-refuses-treatment/