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Schizotypal Friend?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

The other day, there was a girl on the bus talking about her friend, who is in my class. Apparently, she’s acting weird and she imagines she has magical powers. She tries to throw spells on people (she takes herself very seriously), says she can hear people’s thoughts and other stuff like that. She also thinks there’s four witches that’re going to save the world, or something strange like that, and she thinks she’s two of them, since her body is also inhabited by some girl, named Laura, who died a while ago (Laura doesn’t exist by the way). I believe the reason she’s like that is that her parents are never at home and she does all the work there (cooking most of the time, dishes, cleaning, etc.). Her situation is made worse by her other friend, who entirely believes her. He even decided to change school to find the four witches, because God told him to (what I don’t get is that he believes that he’s one of them, that the girl is two of them and that the girl’s friend is one. That makes it four, no?).

I made a bit of research on Internet, and I’m fairly sure she’s schizotypal (though I’m not sure about him, but he’s leaving school so I can’t really help him). Me and another girl, we’d like to help our friend, but I don’t know how we can do that. I’d like to know if there’s a way I can help a schizotypal girl. I would go ask the school’s counsellor, but my friend already went to see her and she’s mad at her because she told her she’d help my friend get rid of her “powers”. Also, I went to see on Internet about how to deal with schizotypal people, but I found no information. Could someone possibly help me?

You believe that your friend is schizotypal but I think you may have meant schizophrenic. Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by a lack of social interaction and extreme anxiety in social situations. Individuals with this disorder tend to keep to themselves. They don’t have many or any close friends. They are very shy and have difficulty interacting with other people. They do sometimes believe that they have special or magical powers, much like your friend does.

Schizophrenia is similar to schizotypal personality disorder. In fact, it is most closely linked to schizophrenia, when compared to all of the other personality disorders. The main difference between schizotypal and schizophrenia is that the individual with the personality disorder for instance may believe that other people are talking about them (ideas) versus the individual with schizophrenia who knows it’s true because they remember it happening (delusion).

On one hand, it is possible that your friend has schizotypal personality disorder, schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. On the other hand, it is equally possible that she has none of these disorders. Sometimes people experience problems that do not meet the definition of any mental health disorder. Problems can be fleeting and temporary.

It is very difficult to know exactly what is happening with your friend but she does seem to be experiencing troublesome symptoms. You recognize this and I believe you are correct to be concerned.

Your question is: what can you do to help your friend? Your options are limited but there are several things you can do. You should support and encourage her to seek help. You can suggest this to her but it would be best if adults handled the situation. You mentioned that one of your friends has already attempted to speak to the school guidance counselor and it did not go well. I’m not sure that I understand why she had that result. I would encourage you to also speak to the guidance counselor about this problem. You may have a different result than your friend. If you are unable to receive help from the guidance counselor then you should speak to a trusted teacher, the school nurse or the principal. Another option is to speak to your parents about this issue and ask for their guidance. They may be able to speak to the guidance counselor or other school officials on your behalf.

Your friend is very fortunate that you care about her well-being. You not only noticed a potential problem, you also took the time to research it and are now in the process of trying to find her help. You have gone out of your way to be of assistance to her. You should be commended for your care and concern.

I hope your friend is able to receive the proper help. Thanks for your question. Please take care.

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