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Delusional Friend

Question:

What is the best way to deal with a paranoid persons delusional behavior. I recently became re-acquainted with an old friend who is now a disabled, lonely woman. She is obsessed with notions that people terrorize her and are constantly plotting against her. She believes people break into her apartment and destroy things, and that her enemies are “getting to” the people she is close to and turning them against her. I hate to abandon her, but don’t know how to deal with her delusions. Is it best to just act like I believe all this stuff and sympathize or try to be gently realistic with her. She does see a therapist and psychiatrist – but clearly her condition has worsened over the past 10 years. By the way, her paranoia is what caused the fall-out between us 10 years ago. She has alienated everyone who tries to be her friend and help her. I hate to abandon her since she is physically disable as well – but I don’t know how to respond to her.

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Answer:

I wonder what your motives must be in this situation. A mixture of good will and guilt I suspect. I encourage you to examine them here in as much as while there is no doubt that your desire to be a friend is noble, it’s not a good thing to let your actions and choices become dominated by guilt either.

It’s not good for you to buy into your friend’s paranoid delusions. You don’t do her any favors by reinforcing her distorted world view. However, to attempt to confront her directly would put you into a therapist sort of role that is incompatible with being an actual friend. Perhaps you can find a way to ‘agree to disagree’ with her interpretations so as to find a middle space where your affection for her can avoid getting clobbered by her paranoia.

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p> It’s very good and appropriate that your friend is seeing mental health professionals for her paranoia. There are medicines that can help with this sort of thing, and it is very good that she is being monitored by someone who can be appropriately responsible for her care should there be an exasurbation. Not knowing how agitated your friend can get, I’ll encourage you to be watchful of your safety, and encourage you to not wait to call for appropriate immediate professional help for her if you come to believe she requires it.

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    I am co-owner in a duplex condominium. We share a common wall. The neighbor appears to have a serious delusional disorder, untreated. She is a social worker with adopted children. She has had the police come to investigate what she alleges as the "crimes" I have committed against her including mowing "her" front "common" lawn, me taking pictures of my garden, putting my trash barrels near hers on the city berm which she claims she owns. She is now going to police and courts making bizarre and false allegations I am harming and stalking her and her children, and the courts took actions against me without any evidence. Although it appears I can fight this, I am simply overwhelmed. I do not know what else she may try to do to me. She has refused to pay the monthly condo fee, and told me if I bring her to court on behalf of the condo association, she will tell the judge I am harming and stalking her children. I cannot move from here, and she has destroyed part of the outside of the condo. Any help would be much appreciated..

  • Anonymous-2

    My friend of 40 years is actin delusional all of a sudden. She thinks I am plotting with her neighbor to get her out of their cocondo complex. I don't know her neighbors. I live 3 towns awaway with my husband of 36yrs. She has never been ma%ied and has no children. I have an adult son that lives out of state. I actually do not even see this frI end very often, maybe 2 to 3 times a year. I call her on the online now and then. She is ok must of the time. This is not fun to deal with. I feel bad for her but I'm I am powerless. She had 2 brothers & sister. I think I wIll stay away for awhile

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