Posted by: HEATHERALEX | 2008/10/06


Good day, my father in law has been in and out of phychiatric clinics and institions for the last 20 years. He stays with one family member, goes to hospitals complaining of phantom pains to receive medication. Once home, he will take these pills, combined with alcohol and dagga. He will become extremely aggresive and suicidal. After taking him to hospital, he will go to shelters (salvation army) for a few months before going to another family member and continuing this cycle. He has also been diagnosed with scitzophrenia. The latest incident involved him taking pills etc. again and jumping in our pool and trying to drown himself, my father pulled him out, but he just jumped in again, his son then had to administer c.p.r. We are worried how this affecting our children as they do not understand why granddad is doing this. I am writing as no-one in his family wants to help him anymore (his children included). What can I do, should we have him commited?

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You will need to discuss this with the doctor / psychiatrist who has most recently been treating him, as the situation sounds complex. And whoever might see him at any hospital he might go to complaining of pains, that this is a recurrent pattern and that nop physical basis for these has been discovered so far, and that he misuses any drugs they may give him in order to overdose ; and that he abuses alcohoo and dagga in combination with the drugs they supply. This is important information for any doc assessing him, and he is obviously unlikely to provide it himself !
A clear diagnosis is obviously important. The behaviour you describe isn't typical of schizophrenia, though it might indeed be part of his problems. If he is repeatedly acting so as to be a danger to himself, and he sounds thoroughly miserable as well, it is indeed possible he could be committed, which could be beneficial not only in safeguarding him, but in helping to ensure a proper diagnosis and proper treatment of the undrlying problems.
I can understand that the children would be puzzled, and that it would be hard to explain to them, except to gently explain that grandpa is sick and confused, and need to be cared for in a hospital for the time being.

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