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Trying to Help a Friend Who Says They Have Another Side to Them

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

My friend and I have been talking and he tells me that he’s afraid one day he will become a different person that is inside of him. He’s afraid that other thing/person would try to kill someone. No one he loves, but he’s afraid that if he lets out his emotions the thing will take over and he will snap one day for a short time and do something irreversible. How do I help him and what’s wrong with him? Does he have a personality disorder or does he just not know how to process his emotions? He swears he would never hurt me and I’m not afraid that he will, but I would still like to see him not kill someone or feel like he has no control over something inside of him. I asked if he would kill animals if that were to happen and he said probably (he normally loves animals) What do I do to help him? I care deeply for him and would like to get some incite as to what is happening.

Without being able to interview him in person, I cannot determine what might be wrong. It could be a number of things. The best way to help him is to encourage him to consult a mental health professional. You are not a mental health professional and thus are not in a position to help him. He needs help from a trained mental health professional who can provide professional treatment.

You might say something like this to him: “I’m concerned about what you have told me. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt but most of all I want to make sure that you never do anything that you would regret. I’m here to support you and to help you find good treatment.”

You are worried that he might “snap.” Generally speaking, people do not snap. A person who snaps erupts into violence without any pre-warnings. There are pre-warnings in this case, as there are in most cases. In the threat assessment world, this is known as leakage. Leakage involves a person indicating a potential threat of violence before they actually engage in an act of violence. Leakage is important to pay attention to because it can help stop potential acts of violence.

If you believe that he is imminently dangerous (i.e. on the verge of acting out violently), then call the authorities. Of course you don’t want him to get into trouble but you must try to protect innocent people and animals, now that you are aware that they may be harmed.

He might be reluctant to seek help from a mental health professional but continue to encourage him to enter treatment. That’s the best way to help him. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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