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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/my mother might have a mental illness

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My mom has always been crazy, mean and abusive, as well as lacking in logic. But as time passes, she seems almost to be regressing to a childlike state. She got in a fight with a little girl who claimed to be a mermaid, claiming that the girl couldn't be one because my mother herself had already claimed to be one and said it all the time. And literally fought with the child about it in a vicious way. She also has been eating earthworms and trying to get other people to eat them. She says she would never date someone who won't eat worms. She says she wants to be a mother and homemaker one day even though she already had six kids. It's like she's a child discussing what she wants to be when she grows up. She is mean and bossy and extremely jealous. She can't support herself, is homeless, and lives in different places. She wants people to die. She wasn't this bad when I was a kid. What kind of mental illnesses can cause this strange behavior?

Answer
Jamie, there can't be an official diagnosis without a direct examination and history, but the label is not as important as the present and expected future behavior, and those are a cause for concern.

What should be done to help her might be a matter of opinion and trial-and-error, and what can be done varies according to jurisdiction. Some kind of residential institution perhaps with medication treatment might be called for, and this may raise issues of finances, her willingness, and availability. And speaking generally, such a person is more likely to get worse than better on her own. So you can see this might not be simple.

I don't know what social services are available in your community, but your best bet might be to contact someone there for advice. Making the first contact can be the most difficult, but then one tends to lead to another until you find the right person or agency. To start, you might use the internet, the phone Help Line, or ask a local mental health professional such as a clinical social worker or psychologist in private practice or in a hospital or clinic.

Thanks for asking us even though I couldn't give a direct answer, and the best of luck in finding the answers you need. I hope you (or the six of you) will be able to get her the support and treatment she needs.

Alan  

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Alan Auerbach

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Taught psychology for 30 years, authored four textbooks. Specialize in introductory and industrial/organizational psychology, but will tackle wider range of areas.

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