Parent perspective: human connection is the foundation for helping someone with schizophrenia.
This guest post was submitted anonymously by a parent of an adult child with schizophrenia. This post is a part of our Recovery Month 2018 advocacy efforts.
My son, age 31, fell ill at age 20 with schizophrenia, as we later learned. At first neither his mom or dad knew what was wrong and thought it was behavioral. There is great lack of awareness as nothing is taught in school. This should change as parents take an average of 2 to 3 years to realize it is mental illness. In this lapse of time, bad things can happen to the ill person. In our case, since we had no inkling what was going on, and my son was not taking any meds, he had his first psychotic break and was taken to the hospital for the first time.
There he was partially stabilized in 20 days and later we took him to another hospital for another 30 days and he was stable upon departure with his meds. Since then he has tried to get a job but it has not happened as his negative symptoms* do not help him. Also he has only partial insight as he takes his meds but does not help himself in any recovery process as he denies he is ill. He is indeed high functioning but unable to function independently.
Supporting someone with schizophrenia requires 3 basic elements:
Proper family support
Proper talk therapy
The last item is key and unfortunately there are few trained professionals in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) for schizophrenia. Also for those in denial or with lack of insight, first insight must be achieved.
We have found that the best process for this is the LEAP process by Dr. Xavier Amador which unfortunately is not prevalent all over the country. The LEAP process teaches the therapist how to have a real human connection with the person with schizophrenia; without a real connection it is not possible to influence the patient to help himself.
Thus, although the patient may be high functioning like our son, he is stuck in a certain level because nobody can truly connect with him; the connection for these types of patients requires specialized knowledge.
Hopefully after true connection is achieved our son can help himself. Without his own efforts recovery is not possible. Bottom line, even people who are high functioning and dealing with schizophrenia cannot function independently without proper talk therapy to make them aware of their condition.
* Learn more about negative symptoms here.