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Delusional Friend


I have recently ran into an old best friend of mine from grade school. We talked for a couple of days and then she told me and my fianc?e a story about her and a doctor who have kids, and another doctor who took her kids from birth. She was crying and upset which made me be sort-of believe her. She begged me to call the media, and tell them her story about the other doctor taking them away, I asked her questions about the doctor she supposedly had 4 kids with why he wouldn’t do anything, her reply was he was under job scrutiny, since the other doctor worked there. So I called the doctor whom which she supposedly had kids with, to my surprise his wife answered the phone I told her the story my old friend had told me and after we hung up I got a call from a police officer. He told me what I did was wrong. I told him what my friend had said and he didn’t believe. I called her house and her mother answered the phone, she told me she was so sorry and that my old friend has severe bipolar disorder. I was shocked! So I called the police man back and told him, and told him to please call her mother that I wasn’t the one who was crazy. He did and he called back basically apologizing for not believing me. But my friend believes she has 6 more kids all with this doctor who has taken them from her. She said she is going to drive up there with a camcorder and record them, she even has names for them, she also said, “Do you know how hard it will be for me not to grab them,” this scares me! I am now afraid not only for myself because I think I messed up her fantasy, but also for this other doctor and his kids. Her mother won’t put her in a mental place for her to get help. How does someone help someone like this before something bad happens? Please respond I feel like I am her only hope.

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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It would appear that your old friend is in the grips of a paranoid delusion, or unshakable belief without evidence to support it, generally involving themes that others are out to harm you. Delusions like this are one of the hallmarks of schizophrenic-type psychosis (hallucinations being the other). They can also occur in related conditions like schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder (although in these latter disorders there tend to be mood problems (e.g., depression or mania) associated with the presentation as well). There are well-established medical treatments for these sorts of conditions (which are biologically based), but they aren’t perfect and they can’t help if patients don’t have access to them or won’t comply with medication routines. Hallucinations respond best to medication treatments, and delusions are harder to dissolve – but generally having the medications on board will make them less compelling. If your friend’s mother knows her daughter’s diagnosis it is highly likely that they have been to the doctor and know about the medications. Locking your friend up is not a good option unless she is in acute danger of harming herself or someone else as such inpatient stays are very expensive and short-lived. Basically, what they do in the hospital these days is to put you on the right medications and enforce your taking them until you just barely start to get better and then they discharge you immediately. That is all most people can afford and insurance won’t pay for a cent of care more than is minimally medically necessary (e.g., won’t open them to a lawsuit). If you want to help, you can possibly inquire of the mother whether she knows about medications. If compliance is an issue, you might brainstorm with her about ways to get her daughter to comply – but keep in mind that your friend is an adult who cannot be forced without a court order to do anything in particular, and that the whole issue is embarrassing for many parents. Whatever you do should be done with utmost sensitivity for the feelings of all concerned.

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