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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok so I talk on another forum and I have a friend who tells me someone very close to her keeps talking about how she thinks she is dead! Of course I first thought of DP and this place! DP is the only think I have personally hear of where someone thinks they are dead! Anyway, she said that she cant convince her friend to go talk to someone! That she believe she is a spirit here nad hse dies in a car ride home a week ago! Not like most here who wonder or think they have lost it, but truely truely thinks she is dead! Do you know of anything she can do to convince her friend to go talk to someone!? Or at bare minimum which of your books should I suggest to her? I think you have written some awsome material and this girl obviously needs help! My friend asked me what to do once I said I thougt it was DP and I said I dunno if she wont talk to someone besides read one of Janine's books! lol. So anyway is there anything you can say to help me or any specific book you suggest!?
Or anyone else for that matter?

First thing, don't let yourself get frantic. This person is having a delusion, that's all. Sometimes when people have very odd/bizarre ideas, the people around them FREAK OUT because it sounds so "crazy" - but in the big picture, this person's delusion is just like everyone else's delusion(s) - it is serving some purpose to keep anxiety levels manageable. It's not the catastrophy you seem to think.

There are a couple of different names for different syndromes that cover this type of delusion, where the person believes they have already died (I am not going to list them because I know how all you guys are, grin, and you will start posting that YOU have that now).

My books aren't going to be much help for someone in deep delusions - first off, the person might not FEEL LIKE they are having symptoms at all - the delusion is usually "ego syntonic" with their personality, i.e., they believe they are CORRECT, not delusional.

A psychiatrist would certainly be a good idea, but like with anyone, if she won't go, she won't go. not much we can do until/unless that changes or the family wants to intervene.

But there is nothing to be done from the Internet on this one. Chances are that this person truly is delusional, and time and therapy and maybe medication can help. Or she could be a borderline with massive issues around control and relationships, and could be exaggerating her actual conviction in this fantasy. NO way to tell. Let them get help in person on this one.

Take care,

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94 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
well is there any chance that you could private message me what those other things you think she could have are? Because I know my friend is gonna want to ask. I would like to give her any information I can to help her help her friend! Thanks a Million Janine you are awsome!!

I don't think it's a good idea.

Your friend should offer to listen and be there for her delusional friend, but that is all she can really do. If she gets TOO embroiled in it all, then my radar goes up about whether the patient is actually having delusions, or maybe she is acting out some painful dynamic with this person (who is caught in a trap of trying ot help, of being way in over her head, etc)

a TRULY delusional person does not want much help from the real world. They've got their delusion and they're sticking with it.

Syndromes that refer to this kind of delusion offer NOTHING constructive - no "advice" etc....there is very little anyone (besides a doctor or trained therapist) can DO for someone caught in delusional thoughts.

But again, very important, this is NOT some catastrophy. I hear a panic in your voice/typing - and I think it's coming from this friend. Tell the friend, the patient will get help if she wants it - all we can do is suggest. Does the patient live with family?

The friend can listen and keep her company. That's it.

Trust me,

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well my friend sounded quiet a bit worried! Pretty freaked out to hear that her friend thinks she is dead! She is really really worried about her and wants to help her and just doesnt know how. You are the only resource I could think of so I am sorta anxious to see if there is anything she can do! The delusional woman lives with her husban. My friend said she was gonna try and talk to him last night. I have yet to speak to her today so I am not sure if she has or not. I just really wish I could tell her something to help her is all!
This is the message she originally posted on my other forum:
Remember when I was talking about my friend who wanted to come and stay with me. I explained to everyone at that time that I didnt really want her to because she has a lot of problems - I am not going to get into them all over again....

Well, she ended up moving back out to Portland to her idiot husband. I talked with her on the phone last night and she is not doing well at all!

This is what I wanted advise on. She told me last night that she actually thinks she is dead. Like really dead. She said that on her bus ride back to Portland, they went through some thick fog, she couldnt see anything. She said that she really couldnt even see her hand in front of her face. So she thinks that is when she died. She said that when you die, you see what you want to see. That is why she appears to be alive - but she really is not.

I told her that she needed to go in and get some help - like NOW. I told her that I obviously am not qualified to help her through this. She then wanted to know the meaning of life and stuff like that. Why we exist. I again told her that I couldnt help her with this problem.

I am asking you because I dont think that she is going to go in and get help. I want to call and talk with her husband - because I dont know if he is aware that she is going through something.

Have you ever heard of anything like this? What is your take on it. What can I do for her? I feel really bad. I feel like I pushed her into a corner by not allowing her to stay with me. This really sucks!

Then I gave her some info on DP and this was her reply:
That is crazy. At first I thought she was jsut trying to get my attention. Then I realized that she actually believed what she was saying. Thanks for the info. I am going to give her hubby a call I think. Maybe he can get her to go in.

Then I told her her friend really needed to talk to someone maybe read a book and this was her reply:
I was kind of freaked out when she told me that - but it makes a little more sense now. Thanks Squish for the info. Hey, if you dont mind, can you give me the info for the books that the woman you talked about writes? Maybe I can at least direct her to that. She doesnt have the internet, so that wont help. But a book might.

So that is what I know. Like I said I just wish I could help her help her friend.

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When someone has delusions like this person, do they respond reality. For instance in someone who believes they died and are a spirit. If You asked them to prick their finger with a needle and showed them that they produce blood, do spirits produce blood? Does that type of exposure help that type of person?

Just wondering


It's an interesting topic, this entire exchange here.

What K asked is also interesting - my opinion is this: IF this woman is truly delusional, then she is using the delusion for some psychological means. While you do not want to play along with her, you also do not want to CONFRONT her with too much aggressive reality to PROVE to her that she is not dead. Anyone in a real delusion can instantly take any evidence to the contrary and turn it around to somehow fit in with their delusion. Do not try to FORCE her out of her beliefs, just tell her you know it's not true and then listen to her and try to help her feel calmer.
But...I'm not sure at all that you're really dealing with delusion here.

There is a very important difference between how therapists (or someone in training to be one, etc.) react to symptoms and how a concerned friend (or friend of a friend) reacts. And I think it's USEFUL to hear these differences - it can give you insights into the entire production of mental health/help, etc.

To the ordinary person, the most distressing piece of information in your posts is that this poor woman is under the delusion that she is dead! That is certainly the most dramatic fact, and it sounds so scary and it is very easy to think it's an EMERGENCY because it is just so "weird."

But unless someone is overdosing on pills or standing on a ledge (or holding a gun to somebody's head), it is better to NOT react in emergency mode. The patient is symptomatic, not stupid, lol.....and the more frantic the people AROUND her become, the more she will (i) panic in response; or (ii) feel validated if her goal is to incite lots of activity.

There is NOTHING that a regular person can do to help a delusional friend not be delusional. NOTHING. So your friend who wants to help needs to either talk to the hubby, call a family member of the patient, or just sit and talk and listen to the patient and try to help her get calm enough to maybe consider talking to a doctor. But there is nothing a doctor can do TO HER - they can offer meds and if she wants them, she'll take them - but often delusional patients won't take medication as it feeds right into their DELUSIONS!

I still believe that the larger issue here, larger than this belief that she's dead, is how functional was she even BEFORE all this? You said "she went back to her idiot husband" which makes me think she has a history of drama - leaving a very bad marriage, and maybe getting lots of support from other people telling her to leave him,and then turning aroudn and going back to him when she has no one to take care of her.

IF that is partly at work here, if this is a person who has lots of emotional ups and downs and life dramas and gets other people invovled trying to "save her" and then keeps messing herself up more and more.....there is NO quick fix and the least of her problems is this new delusion.

We tend to think that everyone is just functional and good and not self-destructive and that out of NOwhere we have some HORRIBLE SYMPTOM that needs to be "fixed"

Look at the whole picture. That is crucial in any patient interaction - in order to even know where to start - and to know how likely any change will be. NOBODY can 'help' by looking up a single symptom and reacting by trying to fix ONE thing (especially in a very complex and potentially very troubled personality)

Again, I could be totally wrong about this woman. She might have been a highly successful, well-balanced, healthy individual before this delusion. But that's not what my radar tells me.

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Oh my, Dreamer has returned with a Ramachandrian response. Janine, no eye-poking :shock: 8)

I just had to post this though squish I am in no way able to diagnose what is happening with your friend.

Cotard's Syndrome is an alternative diagnosis though it is very rare per V.S. Ramachandran, M.D.

"Named after a French psychiatrist Jules Cotard, this syndrome is
characterized by the patient believing that he is dead, a walking
This "delusion" is usually expanded to the degree that
the patient might claim that he can smell his own rotting flesh and
feel worms crawling through his skin (a recurring experience of
people chronically deprived of sleep or suffering
amphetamine/cocaine psychosis).

The French physician Charles Bonnet described a lady who insisted
of dressing in a death shroud and being put in a coffin. She
demanded to be buried and when refused, remained in her coffin
until she died several weeks later.

Ramachandran posits that Cotard's syndrome is a more extreme form
of Capgras' syndrome where the kinesthetic recognition to all
stimuli is absent (whereas in Capgras' syndrome, the kinesthetic
component is lost only from facial recognition).

Whilst the exact neurological mechanism of Cotard's syndrome is
not fully understood (and it is neurological and not a psychiatric
syndrome par se) the damage is likely to be in the right temporal

Cotard's syndrome is nearly always associated with a severe
(psychotic) depressive state, which is not surprising if we
consider that the individual is unable to neurological create any
kinesthetic to any sensory stimulus."

Ramachandran notes in his book A Brief Tour of Human
on page 91:

In response to kchendrix (that was an excellent suggestion!)

"The delusion of Cotard's is notoriously resistant to
intellectual correction. For example a man will agree that dead
people cannot bleed; then if pricked with a needle, he will express
amazement and conclude that the dead do bleed after all,
instead of giving up his delusion and inferring that he is

As noted here squish, I suggest your friend see a psychiatrist and/or neurologist. I would not tell your friend you suspect Cotard's. That is something for a professional to ferret out (if they have a brain).

I have had more luck with neurologists these days. I was recently diagnosed with a familial tremor (inherited) by a neurologist. I asked him about DP/DR. He knew what it was immediately and indicated he was treating a number of patients for it. His patients however had brain tumors and brain injuries (auto accidents, etc.)

He noted very specifically that the cause of MY DP/DR was not known and he had no specific answers re: how to deal with it. But, surprise, he knew immediately what DP/DR were and deemed them "a perceptual shift, an altered state of consciousness we simply don't understand."

I'm focusing outward in earnest these days. Being busy and interacting with friends has been so helpful for me....


"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble. We have to learn to live happily in the present moment, to touch the peace and joy that are available now."
-Thich Naht Hahn -

I'm trying SO hard to do this. It does make a difference at this point in my life.

D 8)

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Dear Squish is me,
Clarification. OMG I've been hanging around all day sneezing my head off. I go from one distraction to the other, my nose is killing me, and so I'm back again.

I only skimmed your original post, and glommed onto the Cotard's connection. I didn't realize this was a friend of a friend and there is all of this other stuff involved.

Janine is correct in that someone with a delusion like that -- serious business -- is going to be hard to deal with. This sounds like dealing with my mother when she had Alzheimer's.

I'd say advice to the friend would be to try and have someone in the family intervene on this woman's behalf. The only way I got my mother any help was to drive across the country to get her into a hospital and diagnosed. I staged a plan to "fool" her -- she really didn't know what was going on -- and ended up at the end of the day with her staying in a locked psych ward for 2 weeks. She was VERY ill at that time and no one would believe me.

At any rate. A family member -- even the idiot husband, LOL -- should get involved. And of course you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him/her drink.

If this is a truly serious delusional state, and the woman is depressed or ... who knows ... someone needs to intervene on her behalf. Been there done that with my mother. But agreed, even if what the woman is saying is bizarre and scary it won't help if everyone else goes berzerk. If anything, calm is of the essense re: all those helping this woman.

Curious how this turns out.
Best of luck. Yipes. :shock:

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