Girlfriend Have Schizophrenia?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My girl friend of about 16 months recently left our relationship. I feel it is because she maybe schizophrenic. Her mother was institutionalized with it for years during her childhood. When I read the symptoms on line she seems like a classic case. She also believes in aliens, ghosts and goes to a psychic and reads taro cards.

She is normally a wonderful person, and is educated and an RN. but has incredible fits of anger and seems to pick an argument over nothing.. often. She is also addicted to working out at least one hour every day [or more] and cannot sleep with out prescription sleeping pills.

She makes such irrational statements like… you are a slave driver, you are cheap, you are a pig, you are a little kid, and says she feels “trapped” when she is not …in any way…. none of this is the least bit true…I can’t believe what she is saying sometimes and I wonder if she is trying to provoke me into defending myself. I personally dislike arguing. I love to enjoy life and have plenty of resources to do virtually what ever we/ I could want to do, travel etc. I have a Masters degree from a major University and a management career with the same company for thirty years. She also often yells at her dogs.

She has been divorced twice [one marriage to her daughter’s father for 13 years and one marriage of 8 years] and from what I can tell has gone thru about 5 or more relationships in the last 10 years after her second divorce. It was always their fault but from what she told me they seemed like nice successful guys.

After about 8 months into the relationship, she told me I was the nicest person she had ever met and gave me beautiful cards expressing her l appreciation of our relationship. She has a hard time saying I love you, but she would say it occasionally. She is NOT very friendly with my friends who are all very nice people but she seems to tolerate them. We sail on the Tampa bay about once every 2 weeks with friends but she usually sits by herself on the bow of the boat.

About year in to the relationship I asked to have a serious conversation with her about our relationship. I was a little worried about her riding her ten speed bike in heavy traffic and rowing in outrigger boats on the gulf of Mexico in heavy seas. [they had to be rescued once and the police were not happy about them being out in such high seas]. The reason I wanted to talk was to remind her that we are both here in Fl. with out family who could take care of us if something happened. She is from St. Louis and I am from Wisconsin. I told her I was committed to this relationship to the point if she got hurt in a bike accident or however and ended up in a wheel chair for the rest of her life I would be with her and promised to take care of her for the rest of her life…AND I MEANT IT, that is how much I love this woman. She agreed and said she felt the same way. [I did not want to be in a relationship at our age [I am 60 and she is 57] that was based on casual friendship and I was looking for a “life partner” who could count on each other.. [ we are both incredibly healthy for our ages]

Several months after that conversation I fell and broke my neck, like Christopher Reeves. It was bad, I was in the hospital for a month but I have made a miraculous and 95 % recovery, can walk and I am normal as can be, but had to deal with nerve pain in my hands which is going away now. I am a positive and happy person and pretty much joked about it thru the entire time. After my fall she decides she should quit her job and take care of me full time. I could actually take care of myself. A week or so into the situation she started to become very resentful and almost mean, that side of her I had never seen before. She would leave the house the majority of the day and work out at the Gym, run or ride her bike. She started to spend a lot of time with her nurse girlfriend. I felt really bad because I am the kind of person who would not ask a favor of any one. I did not ask her to leave her job, but she said she wanted to. I happily paid all of her bills.

When I started back to work, one day she said she was leaving and going back to her home, and this was probably going to be the end of us.

I could not believe it. I knew it was not he woman I had fallen in love with. That’s when I decided to consider the fact that all of this may have triggered her into schizophrenia….

Am I totally off base and has this woman just fallen out of love with me?

I feel really bad for her… but I am not sure how to convince her that she might need help.
Thanks in advance for your considerations.

A. It is difficult to provide a reliable diagnosis over the Internet. It is important to keep that in mind but based on the limited information provided, your girlfriend’s behavior seems inconsistent with the symptoms of schizophrenia.

You mentioned that she believes in aliens, ghosts and goes to a psychic for tarot readings. There may be individuals with schizophrenia who believe in the existence of aliens, ghosts and psychics; however, there are many individuals without schizophrenia who also believe in those same things. Paranormal beliefs are relatively common.

If your girlfriend believes that aliens have invaded her body, or that ghosts are stealing her thoughts, or that the psychic is her direct connection to God, and those beliefs dominate her life, then schizophrenia might be a possibility. If she is simply interested in the paranormal, as are many people, then a schizophrenia diagnosis would be unlikely.

Generally speaking, individuals with schizophrenia hear voices, experience paranoia, have difficulty interacting with others, keeping a job, caring for themselves, and functioning on a daily basis. Your girlfriend seems to function well, has no difficulty caring for herself and can maintain a steady level of employment.

It is unclear what is happening with your girlfriend. She may no longer be interested in your relationship. Perhaps she has difficulty being in a relationship. It might also be that she has trouble communicating her wants and needs or she has difficulty maintaining emotional stability.

In general, it seems as though your girlfriend has difficulty in several areas of her life and might benefit from counseling. Couples counseling may be an option to consider, if she is willing. You may also want to consider counseling for yourself, even if you only attended a few sessions. A therapist can provide an objective third-party perspective in this situation. In addition, he or she can provide you with specific advice regarding whether or not you should continue pursuing this relationship. I wish you the best. Please take care.


Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Dec 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Girlfriend Have Schizophrenia?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/12/02/girlfriend-have-schizophrenia/