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Howard Wise
Howard Wise, Counselor
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 650
Experience:  Counseling with a compassionate ear and a loving heart.
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My brother-in-law is currently having delutions of persecution.

Customer Question

My brother-in-law is currently having delutions of persecution. He thinks his phones are being tapped and he is being watched 24/7. There is no basis for him to be thinking this way. He has always sufferred from mild OCD and anxiety issues. He is also a cancer survivor of 10 years (Non-Hodgkins lymphoma). He has not seen a doctor in over 4 years because he doesn't have medical coverage. During his first bout of cancer, he had a similar delusional episode. He lives far away and although he normally trust myself and my wife, he won't allow us to go to him and he refuses to come to us. He gets very confrontational and upset when we try to force the issue. He is 59 years old and lives alone. He needs to be medically evaluated. How can we convince him that we need to go there and get him help?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Howard Wise replied 2 years ago.
Good morning, this is Howard,

You're in a tough situation.

You ask how you can convince your brother-in-law that you need to go there. From what you have described that may not be possible. Do you believe that getting his consent is a requirement before you go to see him? What would happen if you went there any way?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He told us that if we went against his wishes, that he would refuse to open the door to us. He feels that he is really protecting us from the situation he believes he is in. It all began when he received a summons for jury duty and he thinks he will be arrested for something he didn't do because "they" have the wrong guy. He feels the summons is a trap. I can assure you that he has never done anything illegally in his life. He is very straight laced, does not drink or use drugs. We think there is a possibility that the cancer has returned andis affecting his thinking.
Expert:  Howard Wise replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for the additional information.

The situation seems dire. At this point it appears that you have no choice but to travel to where your brother lives even if he is unwilling to give you permission. Once you are there you may be able to convince him to see you. It's easier for him to turn you down when you are speaking to him on the phone than when you are knocking at his door.
Howard Wise, Counselor
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 650
Experience: Counseling with a compassionate ear and a loving heart.
Howard Wise and 5 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We have thought about showing up at his door but feel that this will agitate him to the point where we might need to involve the authorities. We do not want to have to do this for fear it will escalate the situation to the point that he might do something drastic. He has said that he would rather we go after he gets "arrested" when he appears for jury duty (which he is willing to do on the appointed date). In his mind he has accepted his fate and will go willingly...We were hopin there is some way we can convince him to allow us to visit him and then talk him into coming home with us.

Expert:  Howard Wise replied 2 years ago.
I understand.

It appears that your brother-in-law may be a danger to himself or others. I recommend that you contact the mental health agency where he lives and speak to someone there. It may be necessary to hospitalize him for a psychiatric evaluation.

I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this very difficult and upsetting situation.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
We appreciate your time but have another question. Do you think that we need to take action right away or is there a possibility that he will start to think clearly and more rationally if we gave it a few more days when he realizes that nothing is going to happen to him.? We can also offer to go to the jury duty appointment with him. We personally don't think that he is a danger to himself or anyone else at this point.
Expert:  Howard Wise replied 2 years ago.
I can't predict improvement in your brother-in-law's functioning with any degree of confidence. If he recovered from the prior delusional episode without treatment than it's possible that he will again, but it's impossible to say that for sure.

If you are certain that he is not a danger to himself or others at this time then it may safe to give it a few more days.

I hope this has helped. Please click "accept" if you are satisfied with my answers.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Last question....Should we inform him that we are going or just show up? Even though he thinks we don't believe him, should we go along with it or try to snap him into reality by telling him that he is not in any danger? In your opinion, do you think we wioll be able to convince him to come home with us?

Thanks again.

Expert:  Howard Wise replied 2 years ago.
I don't think your brother-in-law is open to persuasion or to listening to reason or logic. So, convincing him of anything will be an uphill battle, as will snapping him into reality.

Regarding informing your brother about your visit, that depends on what you think his reaction would be. He might benefit from having time to prepare himself for your visit, on the other hand, he may take action to interfere with your visit. You will have to use your best judgment.

I hope this has helped!

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Howard Wise
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Counseling with a compassionate ear and a loving heart.