Friend Thinks She is Possessed By Spirits

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Dear doctor,please help? my friend has been suffering from schizophrenia for several years now.initially she would see and hear voices . these “black beings” as she described would ask her to commit suicide. she almost did several times but somehow didn’t take it the whole way. it is weird that she only experience these at work. while at home she is fine.

she actually was much better 2 years ago. even started reaching out to another friend who was also suffering from schizophrenia. it did not go well though. this new friend refused medication and distanced herself from us.

after this incident, my friend’s symptom suddenly worsen.recently she quit her job at last. thinking this was the only chance the “beings” will leave her alone. what we hoped for did not come to pass however. for she now not only hears the voices at home, she experiences being possessed by the spirits. during these episodes she will scream and pull at her hair. feeling as if she is controlled by some other being and no longer herself. as if crazy. however, when it is over, she is back to her normal self.

she was hospitalized once when she was terrified she will take her own life. however, the doctor who accessed her informed that she has a strong will and less possibility to actually do it.

she has been taking several different types of drugs at different dosages with different combinations prescribed by the doctor but none seemed to help.

i try to be as supportive as i can by listening to her, emphasising with her, laughing with her, fetching her to the doctors etc. recently i discovered that she seem to be lying to me. i do believe it may not be intentional but her desire to get attention. it does stress me out and ware me thin though.

i was thinking perhaps it would be good for me to bring her to a counsellor to discover the trigger or root cause.she was adopted and her mom passed away from cancer.hence she has alot of insecurities and bitterness. do you think it will give her some relief? i am at my wits end on how to help her. i do not know who to tell or talk to either. please do advice? thanks alot.

yours sincerely,
stuck and desperate

A. Dear Stuck and Desperate, first let me say thank you for being such a good friend. Unfortunately, not all people with schizophrenia receive that level of understanding, care and compassion from others. Your friend is fortunate to have someone who cares so much about her well-being. Undoubtedly, it makes a major positive difference in her life.

You asked about whether or not it would be a good idea for you to bring her to a counselor to discover the root cause of her disorder. In general, the more positive support that she receives, the better her prognosis.

Counseling might be a big help to her. It may not be in her best interest for the counseling to focus solely on the cause of her disorder. Even if she uncovered the cause of her schizophrenia, there is no clear indication that it would positively impact her symptoms. She may not be psychologically ready to explore the potential causes.

It also may not be possible to determine a cause. In general, scientists don’t know the cause of schizophrenia. It will likely be difficult for the counselor to pinpoint a definitive cause.

To answer your question directly, yes, it would be advisable for her to begin counseling but it should mainly focus on how she can better manage her symptoms and maintain emotional stability. She would be better served by learning how to manage her symptoms than she would be to learn what may have caused her disorder.

I hope this answers your questions. Don’t hesitate to write again if you have additional questions. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Friend Thinks She is Possessed By Spirits. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/09/16/friend-thinks-she-is-possessed-by-spirits/