A friend is developing paranoia

I’ve known him for about 9 years. I’ll call him L. We’ve never been close friends, but we’ve hung out etc more than once. Since I’ve gotten married and had children I’ve seen much less of him. Plus, his behavior is getting odd. L’s always been a little socially inept, so talking to him has been awkward usually. L never seemed to get the hang of conversation or the casual ripping that guys do.

L lost his job a few years ago and complained that no one there liked him and there was some well-disguised anti-Semitism (he is Jewish ;j ). L’s had his current job for several years now and has similar complaints about his co-workers. But now it’s getting weirder and more extreme. L was also diagnosed as diabetic in the past few years, if that makes a difference.

L has mentioned that he’s replaced the locks on his house because he knows someone has been entering it while he’s been at work or night while he sleeps. L’s bought three pistols and is getting quite good with them. The green jeeps have disappeared from his rear view mirror. A mutual aquaintance told me L mentioned the jeep thing and that someone’s been breaking into his house and watering down his insulin. This guy started to laugh, but L said it’s not a laughing matter.

I haven’t talked to him in a few months and he emails about lunch. I met him today. Everthing was perfectly normal. We were at Hooter’s so we argued over which waitress was the cutest and talked about my kids kids and his job etc. Normal stuff. Then he mentions that the jeeps are gone and something about slumlords searching the tax records and executing people who can’t pay. And the guns come up too. Then <blink>, back to “regular” conversation.

Somehow I need to ask him about this stuff, but I don’t know how. I want to help him before it gets too bad (will it get worse?) and he hurts himself or someone else. And I have a family that I worry about and I don’t want to get caught up in anything and get shot up in a rampage. I can’t force him into anything since he’s an adult (he’s about 40), and I don’t want him turn on me. I’m not sure who else he’s close to, I’m going to try and track down one woman I know he was friends with, maybe try and get his parent’s name in New York, see if they can offer assistance. I want to help but I don’t want to, and can’t, get myself too entangled in this.

It sounds like you have good reason to be concerned. It sounds like schizophrenia, but I’ve always been under the impression it rears its ugly head in the teens and early 20s. It definitely doesn’t sound good. Do you know anyone he works with? Maybe HR could intervene in some way, i.e., require a physical or something. Very scary. You’re smart not to get too close. I hope he gets treatment. It sounds like he’s very ill.

It sounds like you have good reason to be concerned. It sounds like schizophrenia, but I’ve always been under the impression it rears its ugly head in the teens and early 20s. It definitely doesn’t sound good. Do you know anyone he works with? Maybe HR could intervene in some way, i.e., require a physical or something. Very scary. You’re smart not to get too close. I hope he gets treatment. It sounds like he’s very ill.

I agree with the above.

Wow. I have no idea what to tell you, but I hope you can help him out. Maybe your insurer could help you find a mental health professional for some advice?

Wow…that’s a scary one, especially the gun aspect. If you do decide to get him help I think you should go through a family member rather than someone from his place of business. If he does have schizophrenia and gets it treated somehow, I’m not sure it would do well for his career to have his disorder out in the open. People unfamiliar with this disorder may unintentionally pass judgment.

In terms of getting involved, it’s much safer for you as well as your family to help from a distance. If he were to find out you were trying to help him, his paranoia could easily turn towards you.

Whether it’s some kind of mild schizophrenia or some other delusional behavior it’s likely to be organic in nature, and this kind of paranoid delusional behavior never gets better by itself in my purely layman’s experience. I have known people who were otherwise normal, but had this “paranoid nut” side of them and stayed like this all their lives and were perfectly functional otherwise, so even though it probably won’t get better (sans medication) it may not necessarily get worse.

There is little you can do in real world terms. Let him go about his business unless you see him really start to go off the deep end.

Re: “L’s bought three pistols and is getting quite good with them. The green jeeps have disappeared from his rear view mirror. …no laughing matter”

RE: “Let him go about his business until you see him really start to go of the deep end.”


Does anyone else notice that if you legalize firearms, no one has them except obvious psychotics?

(Don’t kill me.)

The gun owners I know are all normal, law-abiding people. But perhaps we should talk about this in a separate thread, instead of hijacking this one.

I’m thinking the “deep end” thing happened about six jeeps ago. But that’s me.

Originally posted by Kalhoun:

Um, what Kalhoun said. Poor guy. It does sound as though your friend could be schizophrenic. Since, as astro said, his behavior is likely to be organic in nature, I’m sure it would help him immensely if he had the correct medication (and therapy).

Maybe you should contact a mental health organization to find the best way to deal with the situation; I found a few that might be helpful at the section entitled “For More Information” on this page.

Interestingly, I also found this quote about people with schizophrenia here: “They appear to others as strange, disconcerting people who have odd speech habits and who live socially marginal lives.” That seems to apply to your friend.

Thanks for the links, skeptic_ev. I think his behavior falls into the “paranoid schizophrenia” category.

I’m going to try and find out his parents’ names and contact them. I’m still a little worried about getting too close, as I do not want to get dragged down, if he should get really bad.

How can you be so sure that your friend is suffering from paranoia?

If you’re serious about this, you ought to don some unfamiliar clothing, wear dark glasses and follow your pal around to confirm that this is really happening to him. If you’re not available, hire some strangers to do this for you. Make sure you call your friend late at night to inquire about his state of mind, but only if you have one of those voice-changing modulators on your phone …

OK…the gun thing is a threat to you, your family, and everyone who works with him. While I’m not a lawyer, I’m of the impression that mental illness invalidates a permit to own a hand-gun. (Lawyers, cops, please step in here.)

Yes, you could go to a health proffessional…and maybe they could reach him without getting shot.

Or you could walk down to your local police station and say, “Hi. I think I know someone with a problem. While I’m no Dr., They seem to be exibiting some signs of mental illness. And they have guns. Three pistols that I know of. I’m worried about them and I don’t want them or anybody else to get hurt. Is there anyone here that I can talk to about this?”

Good idea, Quietman. The police might not be able to do anything themselves, but they can question family members, etc., which would put you out of harm’s way.

Zenster, you’re a real sensitive fellow aren’t you? :wink:

quietman1920, if I can’t find his parents, I think that will have to be the next step. <heavy sigh of responsibility>

I know I’m the new guy on the block, but this topic is right up my alley.

While it is possible that your friend is developing Paranoid Schizophrenia, they others were correct in stating that it typically manifests earlier in life, such as the late teens or early twenties. It may be that it has been well controlled through medications and your friend has decided for some reason to stop taking meds. This is fairly common amongst the mentally ill.

My recommendation would be to contact a County Designated Mental Health Professional (CDMHP) through your health department, local ER, or psychiatric hospital. These people are well trained professionals (typically with Master’s Degrees in psychiatry) that can come and talk to your friend. If they determine that he is a risk to himself, others, or gravely disabled (not able to care for himself) then they can have him hospitalized and a physician can initiate treatment for him. The CDMHPs in this area are very well trained and will treat your friend with compassion and respect.

Schizophrenia and paranoia are not always associated. Paranoia by itself is a DSM-IV diagnosis, and is still treatable.

I wish your friend and you luck, and hope that I have been of some help.

I spoke to a friend of his yesterday (I’ll call her M) whom I have met before at parties and such, and she is well aware of his problems. Everyone is well aware of his problems. It is actually quite serious in that his employer required him to see a psychiatrist who prescribed drugs which L declined. He is going to lose his job. M knows all of this first hand from L. She has also asked him to his face if he thinks the bizarre stuff he is saying doesn’t sound, well, bizarre. He said “Nope” in a very dismissive, end-of-conversation kind of tone.

The other really unfortunate news is that M doesn’t think L’s parents will be of any help whatsoever. It seems that L’s father might support these views. Does this kind of affliction run in families? M is a much closer friend to L than I, and she says has observed more mild symptoms in the past. It is just really coming to a head. I find it very cruel of fate, or God, or whatever to have a disease which creates attitudes that prevents treatment from even being allowed, much less effective. He is never going to get better because he is not going to accept treatment, because he doesn’t trust anyone due to his sickness.

I think I’ve done what I can, I just can’t do any more. I told M that I would do what I can, help write a letter, talk to someone, testify at a hearing. My wife suggested an intervention. If it were properly handled and it went perfectly well, I think it might be helpful, but I’m also concerned it would really push him over the edge. Then he’d know everyone was against him.

<sigh> Thanks for the input and I hope nothing at all happens. To him, to anyone.

Paranoia is extremely hard to treat. If you thought that people were out to get you, would you take the pills that they gave you?

There is no reasoning with them and it is something which they themselves cannot help.

I feel reasonably certain that it is considered a disability by Social Security – but getting the patient’s cooperation in anything is almost impossible.

The father of one of my friends is paranoid. He has managed to continue to live at home with his wife and a family that loves him very much. He is a brilliant man.

Listen to your instincts about helping at a distance (especially since guns are involved) and possibly through a family member. You are a wonderful friend to care. But this is one you can’t fix.