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SuperMouse's avatar

What are some ways to deal with someone who is paranoid and untethered to reality?

Asked by SuperMouse (30713 points ) June 11th, 2012

This is a person I have no choice but to deal with for the next ten years or so. It is a person who is completely paranoid and as a result is constantly on the offensive trying to make problems for me. This person is not above purposely hurting people that mean a lot to me just to get to me. I am at my wits end in how to deal with it and since I have to for the foreseeable future, I am hoping to get some advice from people with some kind of experience with similar situations. I have tried to deal with the situation rationally but to no avail. Attempting to share my concerns is also not an option.

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15 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Since you mention a ten-year obligation, I assume that it is a family-related issue. The only recourse is through the courts. Have you a lawyer looking out for your best interests and giving you counsel on how to protect yourself?

Since good will, volition and normal negotiations seem to not be there, you have to use the law to help you.

tranquilsea's avatar

Always keep this person one person removed from you. You’d need to bring trusted family and friends into your inner circle so they are on the up and up. Then don’t listen to the drama. Ask family and friends not to pass the drama on to you.

@gailcalled suggestion of some legal advise is a good one. Make sure you document everything you can to support your claims.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree with @gailcalled & @tranquilsea‘s advice and would add:

If it were me, I’d have a discussion with a psychologist about the entire situation.
Maybe you could set up a plan of how to deal with said person based off from past events?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Seek a professional counselor or psychologist for your sanity. It is like joining Al-Anon.

Document all occurrences of acting bizarre, best if you have a witness.

Make your people that a close to, aware of the acting out by “the person”. Less likely to hurt them, laughing works.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

What @tranquilsea suggested is exactly what worked for me in a similar situation. It helps to make lists of who is a friend, who is an acquaintance, who is family and so on. If this is a family member then keep in mind family aren’t always the people who love you most, know the best or can help the most. Claim a comfortable space and keep only the people who are positive to you in that spot.

wundayatta's avatar

Sounds like war to me. There’s probably details here you haven’t said, but since you haven’t, I can tell you it’s time for scorched earth, take-no-prisoners action. Show this person you are utterly and completely committed to blowing them away and making their life a living hell unless they cease and desist.

Or you could pay them off. That generally takes less effort, although people often feel like they have lost if they buy someone off. Whatever. You have options. They will all cost you something. Pride should be taken out of the equation. Practicality is all.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

My sister was in a very similar situation when her husband became depressed and verbally aggressive towards her. When she finally had enough, she filed for divorce after 25 years of marriage and three young children.

The hardest part for her was biting her tongue when the girls came come from a visit with their father and told her about the evil and untrue things he said about her. He would show up at her new house, uninvited, and just walk in. When she started locking the doors, he talked one of the daughters into giving him a key. He never paid any of the minimal child support required in the divorce.

What she found to work was in taking comfort that the choice to divorce saved her sanity. She didn’t speak poorly of the ex when people, including her daughters, shared what he was saying about her. When the girls were old enough to grasp what he was doing, she would ask them not to talk negatively about their father. She had a couple of close friends whom she trusted to keep her occasional venting private. Between taking the high road and focusing on the new house, the girls, her job and her hobbies, the emotional stress caused by the situation eventually lessened over time.

I hope that yours will as well. Wishing you all the best, my friend.

marinelife's avatar

OK so use simple sentences and words. Always use I statements rather than you. For example, instead of “You made me mad,” say “when you did X, I felt angry.” That way you are always talking about your feelings rather than complaining about his actions, which tends to put him on the defensive.

Also, just don’t engage. If he starts ranting on about something, just repeat “I’m sorry that you feel that way.” Don’t argue your position.

Can you give a concrete example of how his paranoia plays out? That would be easier to offer suggestions about.

stardust's avatar

I really feel for you as I know what it’s like dealing with irrational, unhinged individuals. I agree with the above responses. I would try to avoid engaging with any s**t this person tries to throw at you. Do not give an inch and most importantly, have a support system for yourself. You need to be able to offload this crap – being around such negative energy is bad for anyone. I really wish you all the best in this situation and I hope this person enters the real world during the time you’ll have him/her in your life.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The only person whose behaviour you can control is your own. You have to learn how not to be antagonized and outraged by their behaviour. Unless you are directly responsible for the care and protection of this person, then avoid being alone with them and when you must be around them, have an ally with you who understands and respects you and your desire to avoid engaging with that troublesome person. If you need help to implement this advice, working with a clinical psychologist may be of great benefit.

6rant6's avatar

If you were living on the coast, you would naturally stay prepared for storms. You wouldn’t enjoy the preparations or the storm itself, but you could learn to accept them.

I think your situation is similar. Storms will come; damage will be done. You can’t fix it. You can’t negotiate with it. You can’t avoid it. It doesn’t mean anything. It isn’t a personal test. It doesn’t define your life. It does reveal character flaws in you that you put up with it. It just is.

So… acceptance.

filmfann's avatar

Did the 8th dimensional aliens tell you to ask me this? Who sent you? ‘Who sent you???

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Every Saturday and Sunday morning I face a group of 12 to 18 people who have similar diagnoses. I have to spend only 12 hours with them, but what I do works. It turns absolute animals into productive human beings with a chance at happiness and fulfillment.

The Hammer:
10mg Prolixin, 2mg Ativan, 50mg Benadryl—Intramuscular Injection with one 5cc and one 3cc syringe. One shot in each deltoid, or both in the rump with a three-inch needle.

When they become cooperative, I give 300mg Seroquel and 10mg Prolixin, orally.

The above IM cocktail can be used every six hours if needed to subdue hostile mania, aggression, severe paranoia, delusional thought, aural and visual hallucinations, homicidal and suicidal behaviours.

The Therapy:
The Seroquel is three times a day.
The Prolixin is every twelve hours.

The hostility and paranoia should dissipate within three days. When this occurs, stop the injections. Tweak with oral psychotropics as needed according to physician’s advice.

Over the next 12 month period, the patient, now in intense counseling, should be guided toward more passive, effective therapies such as yoga and meditation and taught a variety of new coping skills. If these seem to have a positive effect, carefully wean the patient off the meds under intense monitoring. success depends on the patient’s will to get better and compliance. Most patients give up and go with the phamaceuticals or just find the phamaceuticals more effective. Getting well is hard work.

That should do it.

In other words, this person might need to come under a good doctor’s care in order to live a full productive life.

mattbrowne's avatar

Constant paranoia and being out of touch with reality is a sign of psychosis. Maybe this person needs help.

SuperMouse's avatar

Thanks for all the great information. I really appreciate all of the feedback.

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