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Old 03-17-2015, 12:01 PM
 
67 posts, read 71,517 times
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A couple of days ago, my DH was talking on the phone to one of my Nephews. The Nephew told my DH that he was hearing "voices" in his head again, and that they were telling him to burn down the house. He said that he had already thrown gasoline around in the rooms, but hadn't lit the match yet.

The only reason my DH did not call the cops was because this particular Nephew has been known to make outrageous claims in the past, as attention-seeking behavior.

As it turned out, luckily, what the Nephew was claiming to have done, didn't happen.

My Nephew is the youngest of 2 sons in the home. Their father is a great guy, but he has not been the most patient of fathers. He's done a lot of yelling and over-reacting, and has done so in particular with this youngest boy over the years. He also let the boy pretty much roam the neighborhood at will, rather than requiring him to be home in time for dinner and so on. So this Nephew has grown up fairly street-wise, which can be a good thing, but in his case the results are that he is markedly different from his older and less volatile brother.

This Nephew has gotten himself into a little bit of trouble, although nothing at all spectacular. Two or 3 years ago, he lied to a police officer by saying he witnessed an event that in fact he did not witness. When his father found out about this, he made my Nephew call the officer and admit that he had lied. The officer chose to pursue and have my Nephew prosecuted for the false statements, and he ended up having to pay a relatively large fine -- which of course came out of the pockets of my sister and her husband.

However, this Nephew also has some past history of making fairly outrageous statements about things -- he has been known to claim that this or that happened to him, that is later found out to not be true. He has also claimed in the past to be "hearing voices" telling him to do things, whether or not he has done them. This was during his teen years.

He's now 22. Still living at home, recently completed a mechanical training course and looking for a good job in the field. He has seemed to have grown up quite a bit. So for him to tell my DH this stuff about setting the house on fire and claiming "voices" were telling him to do it, was a jolt to my DH.

My DH almost called the cops, and he spent the night worrying about whether he should have. I've discussed this issue with my sister -- the boy's mother -- and she says she would talk to the boy, but she never has a chance to. She is the only one in the household who is working at present, and she does not want to talk with the boy about this in front of his father. His father has heart-health issues and was hospitalized in December, so she doesn't want him involved in a discussion that will for sure set off his anger against my Nephew. Well, the father is home all the time, and so she can't see a way to talk with her son in private.

I personally think that my Nephew needs a good psychiatric screening. But now that he's an adult, he can't be made to go get that done. I love the boy and we are pretty close, but this stuff is scary to me.

Would welcome some thoughts on this.
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Old 03-17-2015, 03:34 PM
 
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If there is the remotest chance that what your nephew claims is true, he is endangering both himself and others and can be detained for psychiatric evaluation, whether or not he likes it and regardless of his age. It's your call whether to notify his mother or the police - but if what he threatens does come to pass, how would you feel if you failed to do either?

Mental illness in a young family member is terrible to witness - I know first-hand.

Best wishes to you and your family.
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Old 03-17-2015, 04:55 PM
 
Location: Wonderland
51,428 posts, read 40,468,594 times
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I too have first hand experience with serious mental illness in my family. My brother was involuntarily committed after a particularly violent breakdown a few years ago and is now in a program for the seriously mentally ill. Prior to that, he exhibited threatening and strange behavior off and on to friends and family.

Here's one thing you can do - you can call the nephew's hand on this stuff. Your husband should tell the nephew that the next time he says anything like this, your husband will call the police. Then he needs to do it.

My brother was very strange and threatening to me in vague ways for years. He piped down considerably when I called the police and had him removed from my property and slapped with a public drunkenness charge.

Even mentally ill people can be taught to respect boundaries.

Your nephew sounds like he is truly mentally ill by the way. And your sister is full of excuses as to why she won't talk to him about his state of mind. She is his next of kin and is in a position of power - you and your husband are not.

I think you've done what you can - you've discussed this with the mother, who is allowing this adult to live with them. Now you need to tell the nephew that the next time he makes such statements you are going to immediately contact the appropriate party - the police, the hospital, or the parents, or all three. Then you need to follow through on your plan of action. Oh, and tell your sister this too. Maybe that will get her off her enabling buttocks to have a conversation with him about the ramifications of his actions.

He needs some ramifications enforced - yesterday.

If your sister gets mad, tell her that it's not right for HER SON to put you and your husband in that position, so you're not going to let him. Tell her that she can do with that information what she likes - she can either try to head trouble off at the pass by being proactive with her son in establishing boundaries and guiding him to whatever help he needs - or she can continue to procrastinate, make excuses, etc and then when he does it again to you and your husband, the **** is going to hit the fan.

Then let it hit.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:46 PM
 
Location: SW MO
23,601 posts, read 32,508,706 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynAragon View Post
I too have first hand experience with serious mental illness in my family. My brother was involuntarily committed after a particularly violent breakdown a few years ago and is now in a program for the seriously mentally ill. Prior to that, he exhibited threatening and strange behavior off and on to friends and family.

Here's one thing you can do - you can call the nephew's hand on this stuff. Your husband should tell the nephew that the next time he says anything like this, your husband will call the police. Then he needs to do it.

My brother was very strange and threatening to me in vague ways for years. He piped down considerably when I called the police and had him removed from my property and slapped with a public drunkenness charge.

Even mentally ill people can be taught to respect boundaries.
Not necessarily. Chronically depressed individuals who are unmedicated and/or not receiving treatment, Borderlines, those having psychotic breaks, etc. have few or no boundaries.
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Old 03-17-2015, 11:31 PM
 
Location: Wonderland
51,428 posts, read 40,468,594 times
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Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Not necessarily. Chronically depressed individuals who are unmedicated and/or not receiving treatment, Borderlines, those having psychotic breaks, etc. have few or no boundaries.
All I can tell you is this - only the most severe cases of untreated psychosis would prohibit someone from understanding a clear boundary in my opinion. The majority of mentally ill people are not at that point in their illness. I would even go so far as to say that unless a clinically depressed person was literally psychotic I think they could grasp the concept of a boundary and be held responsible for respecting those boundaries.

As my brother tells me all the time, "Mental illness doesn't usually excuse an individual from personal responsibility. It helps us to understand where they're coming from, but it doesn't give them the right to abuse others." And he's right.

I stand by my advice to the OP. Tell the nephew and the sister that you're calling the proper authorities next time he makes these outlandish proclamations. One day he very well may act on them.
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Old 03-18-2015, 04:59 AM
 
Location: Purgatory
6,322 posts, read 5,030,607 times
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Between the ages of 16-23 males are most vulnerable for "psychotic breaks" (ie, starting to hear voices.) Don't take this lightly.

Next time and everytime after, call the police for a wellness check. 1. If he's lying, it will set up consequences for such lies. 2. If he's not, you will be saving his and/or someone else's lives.
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Old 03-18-2015, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
51,428 posts, read 40,468,594 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopian Slums View Post
Between the ages of 16-23 males are most vulnerable for "psychotic breaks" (ie, starting to hear voices.) Don't take this lightly.

Next time and everytime after, call the police for a wellness check. 1. If he's lying, it will set up consequences for such lies. 2. If he's not, you will be saving his and/or someone else's lives.
Amen and amen.

I would just add that I'd go ahead and warn the mother as well as the nephew that this is your course of action starting TODAY.
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:56 AM
 
Location: SW MO
23,601 posts, read 32,508,706 times
Reputation: 29137
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopian Slums View Post
Between the ages of 16-23 males are most vulnerable for "psychotic breaks" (ie, starting to hear voices.) Don't take this lightly.

Next time and everytime after, call the police for a wellness check. 1. If he's lying, it will set up consequences for such lies. 2. If he's not, you will be saving his and/or someone else's lives.
Exactly! In my former life BR - Before Retirement - as a legislative analyst, my policy area was forensic mental health issues which included both local services, legal implications, patient's rights and state hospitals among others. Certain "categories" cried out for intervention. All too often and sadly, families ignored or were in denial about what was afflicting other family members, often to their regret. Intervention came too late.
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Old 03-18-2015, 09:57 AM
 
Location: San Antonio, TX
11,361 posts, read 21,889,997 times
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Hearing voices and making outrageous claims about things that didn't happen sounds like the problems my dad used to have before he started taking meds for schizophrenia. I wouldn't be surprised if the trouble that your nephew had about lying to the cops was also because of mental illness.

I don't think telling the mother that you're going to start calling the police when this happens will have any positive effect on the family. The mother talking to her son about the problem probably isn't going to help much either, because if he has a real problem, it's not something that he can change just because his mother tells him to. So her saying she doesn't have an opportunity to talk to him because it would upset his father is just the mother making an excuse. She probably doesn't want a mentally ill child because she'll feel like he's her responsibility for the rest of his life.

What about the nephew's older brother? Could he encourage his brother to see a doctor?
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Old 03-18-2015, 01:11 PM
 
67 posts, read 71,517 times
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Everyone -- thank you for your excellent and thoughtful responses.

I need to come to my sister's defense a bit, though. She is and has been under an awful lot of pressure and stress in the last few years. Her husband has been unable to work for any decent length of time due to his heart issues, although he has tried to. Neither of the boys have stayed with jobs they have started -- the oldest is back in college right now (the younger Nephew is the problem). Besides being the only person full-time working, my sister does all the grocery shopping, and most of the cooking and cleaning. When she gets home from work, the problem Nephew is gone from the house, out with his friends and no telling when he'll be home, so no opportunity to get him aside to talk. In the past, she has spent quite a bit of time talking with him about his behaviors, about how to better get along with his dad, and so on. This boy and his dad have also been in counseling together to try to improve their relationship. That has worked somewhat well for a little while but eventually goes back to what it was.

I don't disagree that the problem may be mental illness. It's easy to think it isn't that, because this kid is very intelligent (although he didn't do his best in school), has been very athletic, is gifted musically and artistically, is *very* funny when he's in the mood, etc. He also has a good heart, is kind to animals and very loyal to his friends and willing to help anyone. All that being said, I do realize that if it may be schizophrenia, quite a few have historically been artistically and musically gifted, and quite a few comedians' gifts come from their mental/emotional turmoils.

It seems to me it would be very valuable to have him evaluated for mental illness by a psychiatric facility, but how to make that happen?
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