How to talk to a schizophrenic: 12 steps (with pictures)

How to talk to a schizophrenic: 12 steps (with pictures)
How to talk to a schizophrenic: 12 steps (with pictures)

Schizophrenia is a serious disorder of the brain, which can dramatically affect the mental functioning and well-being of those who suffer from it. People with schizophrenia are likely to hear voices, have disorderly emotions, and sometimes even express themselves in ways that are senseless or difficult to understand. There are, however, a number of things you can do to improve your conversations with someone with schizophrenia.


Part 1 of 2: Discovering schizophrenia

Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 1

Step 1. Know the symptoms of schizophrenia

Some symptoms of schizophrenia are more noticeable than others. However, knowing how to spot symptoms that are not easily noticeable will help you better understand what the person you are talking to is going through. Here are some signs of schizophrenia:

  • baseless suspicion,
  • strange or unusual fears, for example when the person says someone wants to hurt them
  • hallucinations or changes in sensory experiences: seeing, touching, smelling, hearing or feeling things that others do not feel in the same situation, in the same place and at the same time,
  • a disorganized written or oral speech, the association of facts that have nothing to do with each other, conclusions that have nothing to do with the facts,
  • “negative” symptoms (a limitation in mental functioning) such as no emotions (sometimes referred to as anhedonia), no eye-to-eye contact, no expression on the face, neglected hygiene or withdrawal social,
  • an unusual and eccentric way of dressing, worn or inappropriate (a sleeve rolled up for no apparent reason, colors that do not go together, etc.),
  • disorderly or abnormal behavior, for example putting yourself in strange postures or engaging in repetitive movements for no reason, such as buttoning and unbuttoning your jacket several times.
Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 2

Step 2. Compare the symptoms with other schizoid personality disorders

Schizoid personality disorder is part of the body of schizophrenic illnesses (all characterized by difficulty expressing emotions or establishing social relationships), however, there are some important differences. Someone with schizoid personality disorder has their feet in reality and does not have hallucinations or ongoing paranoia. She has a normal conversation and is easy to follow. She develops and displays a preference for solitude, has little or no sexual desire, and can be confused about social norms and interactions.

Although this is a schizophrenic spectrum disorder, it is not schizophrenia, so the methods described here for people with schizophrenia do not apply to the individual with schizophrenia. the schizoid personality

Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 3

Step 3. Don't assume you are dealing with someone with schizophrenia

Even if the person has symptoms of schizophrenia, do not automatically assume that it is schizophrenia. You shouldn't go wrong in deciding that this person is or is not schizophrenic.

  • If you are not sure, try asking the family or friends of the individual in question.
  • Be tactful in your approach, saying something like, "I want to make sure I don't say anything wrong or inappropriate, so I wanted to ask you if X has a mental disorder, for example schizophrenia?" I am very sorry if I am wrong, but since he is showing some symptoms, I would like to be sure that I treat him with respect”.
Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 4

Step 4. Show empathy

Once you have discovered the symptoms of schizophrenia, do your best to put yourself in the shoes of the individual with this crippling condition. Putting yourself in the person's shoes, through empathy or cognitive empathy, is absolutely essential to build a relationship that works, because it allows you to exercise less judgment, be more patient and better understand what the needs of the person are. 'other.

While it can be hard to imagine yourself experiencing some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, you could still imagine how it would feel if you were not in control of your own mind and weren't aware of it. that

Part 2 of 2: have a conversation

Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 5

Step 1. Speak slowly enough, but not being patronizing

Remember that the person may be hearing noises or voices in the background while you are speaking and therefore have difficulty understanding you. It is essential that you express yourself clearly and calmly, as she may be nervously tired from hearing voices.

These voices might be criticizing her as you speak

Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 6

Step 2. Be aware that she may have delusions

Delusions occur in 4 out of 5 people with schizophrenia, so be aware that the other person may be talking to them. In their delusions, the person might imagine that you or someone from the CIA or the neighborhood are controlling their mind, or they might think that you are an angel of the Lord or whatever.

  • Get an idea of ​​the specific delusions she might be harboring so you know what you should filter out in the conversation.
  • Show some greatness of mind. Tell yourself that you are talking to someone who maybe thinks that they are famous, that they have power, and that this is outside of ordinary logic.
  • Try to be as pleasant as possible when talking to him, but don't throw flowers or flatter him with too many compliments.
Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 7

Step 3. Never speak like this person isn't there

Do not rule her out, even if she is delusional or hallucinating. She'll always be a little bit aware of what's going on and may feel hurt that you pretend she isn't there.

If you need to talk to someone else about her, do it in such a way that she doesn't take offense or take a moment to talk about it privately

Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 8

Step 4. Find out from other people who know this person

You may learn a lot about how to relate to this particular person by learning from their family, friends, and possibly the people who care for them. You could ask them a number of questions.

  • Has she been aggressive in the past?
  • Has she ever been arrested?
  • Are there any specific delusions or hallucinations that I should be aware of?
  • Are there specific ways to react in certain situations with this person?
Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 9

Step 5. Prepare a back-up plan

Plan how you are going to leave the room if the conversation goes wrong or if you think you are in danger.

Try to plan ahead how you could calmly reassure her to get her out of her anger or paranoia. There might be something you can do to make her feel comfortable. If, for example, she has the impression that the government is spying on her, suggest that she put aluminum foil on the window so that she is safe and protected from spy devices

Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 10

Step 6. Prepare to accept unusual things

Stay even-tempered and don't react. A person with schizophrenia is probably behaving differently from a normal person. Do not laugh and do not make fun of possible errors in reasoning or logic. If you feel threatened or in danger, call the police.

If you could imagine what it would be like to live with such a problematic disorder, you would realize the gravity of the situation and know that there is really nothing to laugh at about this problem

Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 11

Step 7. Encourage the person to take medication

People who suffer from schizophrenia often want to get rid of their medication. However, it is very important that they continue to take them. If in the conversation the person suggests to you that they do not want to take their medication, you could:

  • suggest that he first consult his doctor before making such a decision,
  • remind her that if she is feeling better now, it may be because of her medication and that if she still wants to feel better, it necessarily means taking her medication.
Talk to a Schizophrenic Step 12

Step 8. Avoid feeding his delusions

If the person falls into paranoia and tells you that you are plotting against them, avoid looking them too intently in the eye, as this may make their seizure worse.

  • If the person says you are writing things on them, don't text someone else while you are in their line of sight.
  • If she thinks you are stealing, avoid being alone in the room or in the house for too long.


  • There is an excellent book written by Ken Steele called: The Day the Voices Stopped, which might help you understand what a person with schizophrenia is going through and how it is different from someone who has recovered from this disorder.
  • Visit her and let the conversation be as if you were chatting with anyone, regardless of their mental state at the time.
  • Don't look down on her, and don't use child-friendly phrases or words, either. An adult with schizophrenia remains an adult.
  • Don't assume that the person will automatically become violent or threatening. The vast majority of people with schizophrenia or other psychotic problems are not more violent than the general population.
  • Don't behave like you're alarmed by its symptoms.


  • If you call the police, be sure to tell the people you are talking to about the person's psychological diagnosis, so that the police know who they are dealing with.
  • If the person with schizophrenia is delusional, think about your own safety. Be aware that this is an illness that can lead to attacks of paranoia and delusions and that even if this person seems perfectly friendly, they can have unexpected behaviors.
  • People with schizophrenia have a greater tendency to commit suicide than the rest of the population. If the person you are talking to seems to be thinking about suicide, you should get help quickly by calling the police or a Suicide Écoute hotline, such as: 01 45 39 40 00 (in France).

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