QUORA QUESTION ANSWERED


The question was this:

Do schizophrenics feel really hurt by their family members who won’t acknowledge their illness?


Four years ago I answered with this response:

First of all, I want to ask you to stop using the short hand word, ‘Schizophrenic” as it is demeaning and reduces a person to their diagnosis. As I have said repeatedly, a person who has had a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, is not called by most people (except the medical staff at a hospital when no one else is listening) “that infarct” and similarly a person who has suffered from Meningitis is not called a “meningitic”! Sorry if I sound somehow PC to you, but I have a personal stake in this, having been diagnosed for nearly 40 years with “schizophrenia” and my preference is to be called, first of all, a person…and then if you want to qualify further, you may add, a person “diagnosed with schizophrenia.” I am NOT my diagnosis and the more one qualified me as simply that, a schizophrenic, the more impossible recovery became. It was only when I walked away from the mental illness system and started speaking up about the word, and how I am a person first of all, that I found the road to health and wholeness.

That said, I was rejected by my father first of all, who disowned me for nearly 35 years…and this led to my entire family, including aunts, uncles and cousins dropping all contact with me. I never received a phone call or a letter or a visit from most of them ( except occasionally my siblings) during all that time, and it was only when my father died (and also after I came out with a memoir, published by St Martins Press) and I attended the funeral that they so much as spoke to me.

Hurt? That does not even begin to describe it. My father told lie after lie about why he had no contact with me, even as I tried mightily to establish some connection. Why? Because he was angry with me for leaving medical school, and being hospitalized…and he decided that whatever my diagnosis, I was a failure and no good for anyone, especially him. But to others who knew me, he told them I had left home and any relationship with him out of rage…even though it was in fact his rage that prevented my name from being spoken in his presence. When he met any new people he said he had three children, never acknowledging my existence. This was so extreme that when I read a poem about and for him at his funeral the attendees there, 400 or so, most did not know who I was, sitting among my siblings behind the pulpit.

To this day, I come across people who have never learned that the good doctor S—- had four children, not three. They were never even told that my own twin sister had a twin who was not being spoken to or about or of…

Now, I was very hurt, yes. At one point, in hurt and outrage, I threatened if he ever made the claim again that he only had 3 children, I would immolate myself publicly in front of his window just so that would be the final vision he would have seared on his retina…As he knew I was capable of this, I think he understood how hurt i was. But he nevertheless never did inform anyone about me, or even when we reconciled did he let a soul except my mother and siblings know this.

I am unclear as to the thrust of this question however. How do most people react to being rejected by their families, on any account? People diagnosed with schizophrenia are HUMAN and have normal human emotions, and to expect that they would not get hurt by such behavior is not only inhuman, it is absurd.