We live next door to a formally-diagnosed paranoid Schizophrenic who refuses to take his medication. He is in his early 40′s and lives with his mother. He has been unwilling/unable to get a job and spends his time manicuring the yard (7 days a week). Year by year, we’ve watched his paranoia slowly overtake him with “episodes” (involving the police) increasing in frequency. With each passing year, he has withdrawn into his parent’s house more and more, also making his mother a virtual prisoner in the process. On the rare occasion when his mom can speak to anyone (usually brief chats when she gets the mail) the comments don’t deviate from “he’s getting worse”. He has a variety of guns and, per his mom, now thinks that everyone “wants to do him harm.” While I’m primarily concerned with my family’s safety, the neighbors on the other side their house also have small children. It is only a matter of time before he finally snaps. What can we really do other than move away? We really aren’t in a position to do that and it doesn’t really address the problem – certainly for anyone else in the neighborhood.
A. It is difficult for a layperson to judge the danger of another individual or situation. Your neighbor may be dangerous or he may not be. It is important to correctly determine the level of danger so that you may protect yourself and your family.
The world is a dangerous place and there is no way to eliminate the danger. People are shot randomly while getting gas, walking down the street, in their homes, and even in their places of worship. No one would’ve thought that attending a public meeting with their Congresswoman in a shopping center or going to the movies to watch a Batman film were dangerous activities, but they were. Situations that appear not to be dangerous sometimes are. That is the world we live in.
Research shows that individuals with schizophrenia generally do not pose a danger to others except in rare cases and when certain conditions are present, despite the general public believing otherwise. Individuals with schizophrenia are much more likely to do harm to themselves or to be victims of violence than they are to be perpetrators of violence.
Your psychotic next-door neighbor may be no more dangerous than another neighbor who is not psychotic but who takes a particular combination of drugs and then engages in horrific violence. Likewise, your psychotic next-door neighbor may be no more dangerous than an individual who recently lost his job, is angry, suicidal, and wants to seek revenge on his employer and coworkers.
If you believe that your neighbor is a danger to your family, then precautions must be taken to keep your children away from him. If that is not enough and this problem continues to concern you, then even if it means a great financial loss, you must move to a safer neighborhood. Those are ultimately your only options. Please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Aug 2012
Randle, K. (2012). We Live Next Door To A Ticking Bomb: What Are Our Options?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/08/24/we-live-next-door-to-a-ticking-bomb-what-are-our-options/