Hello there. So, I’ve recently made the acquaintance of a kid in my grade — a kid that most people avoid, because he is strange in an uncomfortable way. We really hit it off (I find that I end up relating to a lot of the things he says, or at least find them interesting), and while I only consider him a casual friend, he claims he is in love with me, and has started following me everywhere (missing class or staying late to do so), which is uncomfortable but essentially harmless. However, lately his conversations (which are always considering the philosophical or abstract) have turned increasingly violent and twisted, and his behavior, which has always been strange, increasingly erratic. I know for a fact that he has schizophrenia and other mental illness in his family, and he himself has experienced trauma throughout his childhood. It would be safe to say that he too suffers from some kind of mental imbalance. But, this alone is not what I worry about, as selfish as this is going to seem. What I worry about is his influence on my life and relationships with others. He makes others uncomfortable by bringing up dark or “taboo” subjects in casual conversation, either for the shock factor or because he’s genuinely interested, and high schoolers usually don’t like to indulge in such conversation. His habit of following me around frightens my friends, who consider him a time-bomb of sorts, and often gets me in trouble with teachers. I genuinely enjoy his company, for the most part, but I worry. I’m told that he’s a bad influence on me, and that I’m putting myself in danger by associating with him. But, I’m reluctant to distance myself from him, both because he interests me, and because I worry about what he might do. I know that, in all probability, in a year or two he’ll either have been admitted to a mental hospital or have killed himself (something he talks about constantly). Do I owe it to him, then, to keep associating with him? Or do I take a friend’s advice, and get out of this “before it’s too late”? P.S. — he sees a therapist already, but his mother (only caregiver) is unfit to raise him due to psychosis, so he doesn’t receive much help. Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide.Worried about Psychotic Friend
Worried about Psychotic Friend
Considering all that you have told me about this situation, I can’t, in good conscience, advise you to stay in this relationship. I, of course, can’t predict the future. Perhaps he will never harm anyone, but he is exhibiting many of the warning signs of someone who has the capacity to be violent.
These warning signs include: his following you (which could be stalking), his “increasingly violent and twisted” thoughts, and his “strange, increasingly erratic” behavior, his insistence on discussing “dark or taboo subjects” despite his peers disinterest, and his “constant” discussion of suicide.
Perhaps you don’t want to end the relationship because you’re flattered by his love, but it’s a mismatch if you only want to be friends. He’s not looking to be friends with you. If you don’t love him, then you are being unfair and misleading him by continuing the relationship. In your letter, you predict that he’ll eventually be admitted to a mental hospital or attempt suicide but you are overlooking a third, potential option: he attacks you because your attention gave him false hope.
Your friends and peers see him as dangerous and someone to avoid. Why don’t you? Their instincts are correct. You should not continue this relationship. Fortunately, he is in therapy and working with mental health professionals. Let the professionals do their job and take the advice of your friends: end this relationship “before it’s too late.” Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle