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Frustrating situation

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I am stuck in a very frustrating situation. I have a 11 year old with Aspergers. My son has one close friend. This close friend and my son have known each for 4 years.

The struggle is the boys mother. I have seen it all with her. I am no expert, I know she has ‘lost’ all of her friends…other than me. I try to just keep the kids in contact, but she insist on bringing me into her mental state.

Her husband works every day….I have seen her call the police on herself. I know last year she was sent to the ‘psyc unit’ then released after 24 hours. She seemed better for a bit, then it came back. She says a man follows her, spies on her-this goes from sending her emails, to following her to her hair salon, drilling holes in her backyard concrete wall and watching her, she says ‘this man’ communicates thru her NON verbal autistic 16 year old as well. I think that is sick. To use this non verbal child and put him in this situation.

I literally cant take it anymore. I told her if this is true, she needs to call the police or get a order of protection. I told her I have heard this for 4 years. She becomes irrate when I tell her this. “Do not rule me”. She says things one minute, then drastically changes her mind, flies off the handle. She does this not only to me, but my children.

I have told my son, we will make him other friends. I feel so bad for her 16 yr old and 11 year old. All the parents at the school talk about how crazy she is.
Her husband refuses to speak to me about it…he ignores me. I think he too is afraid of her.

She has actually chased me down at my sons school one year in front of everyone because I tried to break the friendship off..

How do I get her to see she needs help? I dont think that is possible, because she becomes so irrate and thinks she is right and nothing is wrong with her. Scary.

Thank you for your time and any advice on how to part with her or help her would help.

Based on your description, the boy’s mother may have symptoms consistent with a psychotic disorder. Please bear in mind that I cannot confidently offer a diagnosis over the Internet. To make an accurate diagnosis, I would have to interview her in person but based on your description of her symptoms, a psychotic disorder is a reasonable conclusion. Believing that she is being spied upon (paranoia) and communicated with (magical thinking) are common symptoms of psychosis.

You find it “sick… that she’s using a nonverbal child and putting him in this situation.” It is important to understand that if she is psychotic, this is not willful behavior on her part. Just as it is impossible to intentionally develop symptoms of cancer, it is equally impossible to intentionally develop symptoms of psychosis. No one chooses to become psychotic.

Having said that, I believe that your concerns are valid. You worry about whether or not her behavior is negatively impacting her child. In addition, you understandably want to ensure the well-being of your child. The boy’s mother is displaying bizarre symptoms and you want your son to be protected. This is perfectly reasonable and understandable.

With regard to your specific question about how to get her to see that she needs help, this will likely be very difficult. It might be better to bring your concerns to the attention of her husband. Let him know about the behavior that you have witnessed and your concerns. As an acquaintance of the family, there is little else that you can do.

One way to assist the family would be to make them aware of resources such as the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is great because they provide much-needed guidance and education for family members who have a loved one with a mental illness. They can also assist families who are trying to navigate the mental health system.

It is a troubling situation for all involved. Mental illness affects millions of people. When a loved one has a mental illness it is not just the individual with the mental illness who suffers but friends and family as well. Hopefully, your friend and her family will receive the proper help. I wish you the best. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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