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Talking Through Schizophrenia
By Jennifer Bradley, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 2)

If the situation is negative, a caregiver should say exactly the concern, and how he or she would like it fixed. Those living with schizophrenia have a difficult time processing feelings of others, so this direct-talking skill is one a caregiver should master. Itís especially important when the situation could be dangerous, such as a medication need, or also is personal, such as making the caregiver feel scared during an upsetting episode.

Social withdrawal is also a top symptom of the illness, and keeping the conversation light and positive encourages friendship and connection. Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and itís a caregiverís responsibility to help their loved one feel that, regardless of the situation. This can be done by discussing, or doing things the person enjoys. What are their hobbies? Think of activities they find fun or help distract from the day-to-day life with schizophrenia. While medical talk is necessary, the friendship between caregiver and loved one is too.


The old adage stands true for a person living with schizophrenia: keep it simple.

Whether verbal or nonverbal, communication with too many elements or expectations of response will send a red flag to a loved one living with schizophrenia. They also tend to have a theory that they are above rational and normal logic. This can be challenging for a caregiver to cope with. Professionals recommend caregivers just not indulge the notions, but donít disallow them either. Meet the person where they are, and accept this. It may not be a real concern to a caregiver, but to a loved one with schizophrenia, their manifestations are completely real. When trying to reason or make sense, itís recommended caregivers use ďI feelĒ statements rather than ďI thinkĒ ones.

With non-verbal communication, here are some guidelines. First, stand close to a loved one, but do not crowd their personal space. Maintain eye contact and show interest in their ideas. This is accomplished through posture and engaging facial expressions. Last, speak calmly and clearly. Any extra confusion may be too much for a loved one to handle.

Itís easy for a person with schizophrenia to feel very isolated, especially with a challenge of normal communication. As a caregiver, a way to be a loved oneís advocate is to not think of them as someone with schizophrenia, but a person with an illness. They are not the illness. Communication is important in any relationship, but with a schizophrenic loved one, some learned and applied skills will help the relationship even more.

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