I’m sorry to learn about your brother’s condition. He is clearly not well. Unfortunately, you seem to be the only one who recognizes that he is seriously ill. Studies have shown that younger people with untreated schizophrenia have more psychotic episodes than older people with schizophrenia. Both can have a considerable number of episodes but it has been documented that patients experience a decrease in psychotic symptoms later in life.
Medication is typically required to treat psychosis. Medication has the power to reduce psychotic symptoms and prevent the occurrence of future episodes. Without medication, your brother is at risk for additional psychotic episodes, each one potentially worse than the one before it. Some research has shown that with each psychotic episode, the brain is damaged. It can also be difficult to return to one’s previous level of functioning. When it comes to psychosis, early intervention and treatment are of paramount importance. The earlier the treatment the better the prognosis.
You’re right not to allow your children to interact with him while he is actively psychotic. Individuals who are psychotic and not taking their medication have the potential to be dangerous. They are not thinking clearly. They are delusional and are not in touch with reality. They may do things that they wouldn’t normally do if they were not psychotic. Until your brother begins treatment and has been stable for at least six months, do not allow him to interact with your children.
I would highly recommend the book “I’m Not Sick I Don’t Need Help.” I consider it a “must-read” for family members who have a loved one with a serious mental illness and who refuses treatment. The book explains anosognosia, a neurological condition which prevents individuals with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia from understanding that they have a disorder. It also provides strategies for family members who are dealing with individuals who refuse treatment.
If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to write again. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice