Get information and advice - Sibling FAQs - What can I tell my family and friends?
My sister experiences delusions and although I know they are real to her I find it difficult to explain to our friends and relatives, what could I say?
Experiencing delusions and paranoia can affect people’s behaviour and the way they interact with others, such as through their conversations, speech or actions.
Delusions are false beliefs or thoughts with no basis in reality. For example, some people may believe that mysterious forces are controlling their thoughts or that ideas are being inserted into their brains. Some people may believe that their minds are like radios, broadcasting their thoughts over long distances or through the television.
To cope with delusions and in trying to make some sense of them, people often use elaborate explanations, and so simpler delusions may become incorporated into a more complex belief system.
Find out as much as you can about these behaviours and thoughts by reading the information about mental illness on our website and then share this information with your friends and relatives in a simple straightforward way. It might be useful to start by saying if my sister had cancer or a physical illness you would want to know what her symptoms were and how you could help – trying to think about mental illness in the same way is really helpful.
How can you help someone with delusions and paranoia beliefs?
It is important to avoid colluding with or humouring someone with delusions or paranoid beliefs by following them into their beliefs. Try to avoid -
- confronting them about the thoughts they express
- laughing at them
- undermining them by telling them they are stupid or their thoughts are stupid
- ignoring them by remaining silent
Reassure your sister clearly and calmly by letting her know that though you understand she see may see things in a particular way, you believe things to be different.
Try to help her to separate her emotional response to the situation by justifying it with a rational explanation about why she should not worry:
“You seem to be frightened that the police may be following you, but I don’t think this is true.”
“You have done nothing wrong, so the police would not be interested in you"
For more information please read our Dealing with a sibling's unusual thoughts and behaviours factsheet
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