How To Love A Schizophrenic

August 4, 2007 by  

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By Yvonne Nahat

Loving a schizophrenic is almost an impossible task. The person is usually unstable, sometimes aggressive, often abusive and very hurtful. While I was going through my psychosis I alienated my husband, family and friends. By the end of my psychosis only a handful of people were still left who were even willing to know me, let alone love me. As a matter of fact, except for my mother, everybody else had given up on me: sisters, father, husband and most friends. It has taken time and effort to rebuild broken relations and friendships after my recovery.

This essay then, is to encourage all those confronted with a schizophrenic family member or partner to not give up hope and love even if it seems impossible.

A schizophrenic is undergoing extreme labors of the psyche. Voices, hallucinations, visions and so called delusions are what they are going through. They have severed all ties with exterior reality and are living in a completely interior world. As a family member, spouse or friend, try to find out what exactly these visions, hallucinations, delusions and voices are made up of. Dare to enter the mind set of the schizophrenic. Soon you will realize that there are real stories and dramas evolving in the psyche of the schizophrenic and that there is room for love. For a closer look at entering the mind of a schizophrenic please see my essay How to understand the interior life of a schizophrenic.

I believe that most schizophrenics want to be understood. Textbook medicine describes them as being closed, unresponsive and non-communicative. This however is only to the cold observer. Numerous psychologists and psychiatrists have made the experience that opening themselves up to the psychotic, accepting their story, being genuinely interested in it will open doors to the heart of the psychotic.

Most psychotics are experiencing, as already mentioned, real drama. They might be confronted with a world take over scheme, they might be threatened by evil forces, feel that they can foresee catastrophes in the near future. Voices might be accusing them, calling them names, talking dirty and using derogatory language. Visual hallucinations might make them see things such as light apparitions, figures who ware not there and the like. Delusions might make them interpret visual stimulation in a negative way. A group of people shopping can become a group of persecutors to the psychotic. Once someone shares this interior world with a psychotic, then understanding and a dialogue can unfold. Without this sharing schizophrenics are left alone in their world of trials.

Entering the world of the psychotic is one way of loving them. There are however numerous instances when family members, spouses and friends are hard pressed to find a loving connection to the schizophrenic. They might be sending you hate mail, accusing you of unbelievable things. In such cases refute the accusations in a kind and loving manner. For example should you be accused of participating in a world take over scheme where you might be perceived as harming the psychotic, calm them down. Say that you would never join evil forces or that you would never dream of hurting the psychotic, your loved one. Reassure them of your goodwill and trust. I accused my family of cannibalism during my psychosis. They were so shocked; they did not know how to respond. This in my psychotic mind was an affirmation of my darkest most dreaded suspicion. Instead my family should have spoken to me calmly, saying that they would never do such a thing. Not in a shocked manner, but as an affirmation of their goodwill and love. This would have helped me a lot.

Should you receive hate mail, do not be hurt, think of the hallucinations and delusions your loved one is going through. Respond to the letter; let the person know that you love them anyway. If the person refuses to see you, pushes you away, stay there, keep contact. Don’t give up. During my initial stay at hospital I refused my mother contact with the doctors. Because of my age the doctors had to respect this wish of mine. My mother did not stop calling me and the doctors to make sure I was not given electro-shocks and that I was being treated well at the clinic.

If a schizophrenic stops paying the rent, rearranges the entire apartment without seeming rhyme or reason keep in mind, that to the schizophrenic things like paying the rent seem unreal and unimportant. Don’t get angry at them but try and get them help. On how to get a schizophrenic help please see my essay How to get a schizophrenic to the doctor.

During my psychosis I alienated my entire family, husband and friends. My father, sisters and husband refused contact with me. It was only my mother left who kept on trying to make contact with me although I was pushing her away, accusing her of the most terrible things, writing her hate mail and making hate phone calls.. She called me regularly, she called friends that they would come and look after me, she called neighbors and social services to look after me. She traveled to see me as much as possible. As we were living in different countries this made matters very difficult. Most of our friends did not realize just how psychotic I was. I thought I was having trouble with my mother and did not want to get involved. Family members had had enough of my abuses. One of my sisters even went so far as to accept were I to die. One day my mother and younger sister had traveled the 1000 Kilometers to see me in my too expensive new apartment I had bought during my psychosis. They came with a dear friend of mine. I refused to open the door. I was very abusive and sent them away although they had been waiting for me for hours. The poor things had to leave only with my screams in their ears, the tantrums I made and the abuse I had for them.

Loving a schizophrenic is a very difficult task indeed because it is precisely the person whom you want to love who is oftentimes pushing you away. It takes a tremendous amount of love and endurance to stick with a schizophrenic, to not give up on them and to not despair. But your love is all the schizophrenic has as a last contact to the non-psychotic world. So don’t sever that link.

Love is a king quality of the soul. Love can move mountains and it can make the greatest obstacles disappear. Often a psychotic is refashioning love in his or her psychosis. Visions of love often characterize a psychosis. Behind the mask of abuse and pain somewhere there is an idea and high ideal of love lurking. Try and tap into that. Be soft and gentle with the schizophrenic. Speak with them about love and how much you love them. This might open a door to their heart and be the first step towards healing.

Yvonne Nahat has undergone a schizophrenic experience for eight years. For further insight and information please visit her website at

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6 Responses to “How To Love A Schizophrenic”
  1. Ronald says:

    Wow. Thank you for this article. I have a best friend who has been experiencing schizophrenia the past two years. It’s been a very tumultuous experience, but I have not given up on him. This article has given me hope. Others have told me to cut him off, but I don’t feel That I should do so. I do feel like the unconditional love is the thing that will win him back into reality. Right now he is in denial, but I pray and believe that someday he will except his reality and get help. Thanks for your encouragement.

  2. NK Hong says:

    Dear Theresa, My daughter who is 17 has a very similar problem since we came to know that she could be a schiz about 2 months ago. We could not understand her bad manners and rude behaviours for many years until recently. We have talked to a psychiatrists and was told to give her anti psychotic drugs without her knowledge. What best is your advice as parents that we should do. She is bright and have a flair for writing. Thanks NK Hong

  3. liz brown says:

    thankyou for all your insight it has been a great help .ive been in a relationship with a man with shizophrenia for a year now .some people would say i should leave him .but my love for him is unconditional though very hard to cope with at times especially the times when he shuts me out .and the last year as been a rollercoaster of ups and downs .but having said that the ups have been the best ive had in my life and that keeps me holding on and supporting the man i love

  4. Via says:

    Thank you for writing this essay. I have been in a relationship with a schizophrenic man for many years, and we have periods that are wonderful, but then just as quick as they came, they go. He pushes me away constantly, accuses me of breaking promises I would never break, and tells me he doesn’t love me only a day after swearing eternal love to me. It’s very unpredictable, and I call it emotional torture, because essentially that’s what it is for me. But I don’t stop loving him, and I never will. I believe I am the only one who knows him and is capable of unconditional love for him. This article really helped reassure me that what I am doing is right. I am going to read this whenever I have doubts. Thank you.

  5. Theresa says:

    Thank you for writing this essay on how to love a schizophrenic. My son, now 22 years old, was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 18 years old. Since then, he has been hospitalized 23 times. Before, he would not take his meds, but now he is. I think this is the first hospitalization where not taking meds was not the problem. Although last night he was very dillusional, today he is being discharged from his 23rd visit in the hospital.

    As you said in your essay, it is very difficult. My son has been very abusive to me throughout his illness. I often try to remind myself that it is not my little boy expressing hate towards me. I have distanced myself from him for period of times, but I will never stop loving him. I try to assure him of that often.

    He is most often tormented by demons in his psyche. It is often very frightening for him and us. Sometimes I wonder if he is not possessed, or at least truly haunted by ghosts and demons. All I can do is pray.

    I am aware that as he gets older he will get worse. What I don’t know how to do is how to keep him out of a long term institution. Many have told me that he will eventually end up there. This isn’t true is it?

    Anyway, thanks again for your essay. It is most helpful to hear from someone who knows first hand what it is like to be schizophrenic.

    Take care, Theresa

  6. Anika says:

    I love te colours and lay out of your blog, i really want to get hold of this theme, what are you using?

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