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Talking Through Schizophrenia
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 2)

Schizophrenia is complex. A person living with the disease is easily overwhelmed by their surrounding environment. Their speech and behavior may be disorganized and delusional. Concentration is limited and appropriate emotional responses minimal. Communications with caregivers and medical providers are part of this chaotic dynamic. The best thing a caregiver can do before embarking on any important conversation is to make sure they are prepared. They must know when to communicate, what to communicate and how. A skillful communicator will be able to resolve issues and make daily living for their loved one with schizophrenia a much more pleasant experience.


A caregiver cannot force a loved one with schizophrenia into a conversation, especially if they are agitated or excited. Trying to calm them is a way many people may attempt to proceed, but only if the caregiver knows they can. Otherwise, let them settle on their own.

Schizophrenia causes hallucinations, which become a barrier to rational conversation. If these are present, itís best a caregiver wait to have a serious talk. The loved one is not in the right frame of mind, or mentally able to move forward.

The caregiverís attitude at the time is just as important and has a big effect on the conversationís outcome. The first thing to remember is to not take insults and verbal outbursts personally. A caregiver cannot change delusions, nor should they challenge them. A caregiver's logical thoughts will only further confirm that a loved one's schizophrenic delusions are real.

It's also not a good idea to speak with a loved one during a time of personal distress. A caregiver should not expect a person with schizophrenia to deeply care about their problems. This is almost certainly a result of the disease, which may cause frustration and sadness for a caregiver. The reality of schizophrenia is often brought to life at the expense of the caregiverís emotions. This is why itís important a caregiver really make an educated decision whether the time is right to have a conversation with a schizophrenic loved one. Preparation is vital to success for both parties, and eliminating undue conflict.


From family to physicians, a caregiver for someone with schizophrenia spends much time in medical appointments. The talk is usually of treatments, diagnosis, future concerns, etc. At some point, a caregiver must re-enter the world of their loved one and explain the details in laymen's terms. Discussing several issues at once will be overwhelming for a loved one, so professionals suggest a caregiver choose one area that is really important. Itís helpful to focus on a specific behavioral problem that needs addressing before transitioning to the next.

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