Posted by: BMJ | 2009-02-19


Hi Doc

At the start i want to apologise if my ignorance is an offence to any readers - that is why I am checking my facts with the doc.

O.K. In the house next to me lives a few students. One of them came to my house yesterday afternoon asking to speak to my husband (he is a pastor). I explained that he was not home and asked the young man if I could help. He told me he is hearing voices and feeling sensations and he is not sure whether they are real or not. He claimed to have been fasting for 40 days and thought maybe he was being attacked by demons. I felt uncomfortable being alone with the man, so I encouraged him to come back today to speak to my husband. Last night at 12h30 he arrived at our door (he jumped over the wall) and my husband talked to him. He found out that this young man (22) has a history of alcohol and drug abuse - although he claims to be sober now. He did not want to say what drug he used. He would also not at all divulge information about his parents. He kept telling him about the voices and feeling like he is being scratched etc. My husband assured him that he is not demon possessed and encourged him to eat and drink - his fast was overboard and not helping him at all. He encouraged him to seek help from a medical professional to make sure his symptoms are not as a result of some medical problem.

He left shortly afterwards. I read the definition of schizophrenia on the site and of course - I have no training to make such an assessment - it just fitted almost 100% with what he told us and how he is behaving. My question is 2 fold. Does this man pose any threat to me or our young children (I am not sure if he is able to think clearly). We of course want to help people and be available to our congregation, but I dont want to be unwise in letting him into my home, and secondly what can we do? We dont know anything about him or his parents.

Thanks Doc.

Not what you were looking for? Try searching again, or ask your own question
Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

The young man is obviously unwell and in urgent need of help and assessment. There are many possible explanations for his condition. If he has been fasting for some other reason, that could cause chemical imbalances which in turn could cause him to hear voices ; or if he began by becoming hallucinated due to schizophrenia, physical illness and high fever, severe Depression or Bipolar Disorder, or whatever, that may have led to delusions of some mystic need to fast.
Alcojol abuse can do it, and if he has become used to a high alcohol intake, suddenly stopping or cutting down on that intake can lead to DTs and include such odd experiences. And depending on what drugs he has been taking, he drugs themselves, or withdrawal from them, can also cause a conditio like this.
Is it possible to approach and speak to some of the other students he is staying with ? Surely they have noiced something wrong, and could perhaps find help for him through the university or wherever they are studying, as well as being able to find and contact his parents.
The young man sounds confused and disorganized, and would probably no be a threat except by accident, but could be some danger to himself or others, if allowed to go untreated for long.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Have your say

Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.
Thanks for commenting! Your comment will appear on the site shortly.