Communicating with a Person
with a Brain Disorder

A poet has defined mental illness as "the crippling of the organ of reciprocity." Certainly one of its most characteristic aspects is the difficulty, even breakdown, of communication between the stricken person and others.

Communicating effectively does not solve all problems or make your relative well, but it usually makes things better. It wonít make as much difference as you wish it could, and this is important to remember. Communicating in specific ways is very important for the mentally ill who are confused, canít always understand, or may misinterpret. Example: "Do you think you could take out the trash?" may receive the reply, "I donít think about the trash at all," or "Of course I think I could do it," followed by not taking out the trash

A Person with a brain disorder (may)Ö So you need toÖ
Be fearful Be simple, truthful, not sarcastic
Have trouble with "reality" Stay calm
Be insecure Be accepting
Have trouble concentrating Be brief; repeat
Be over-stimulated Limit input; not force discussion
Easily become agitated
    (not to be confused with dangerous)
Recognize agitation, allow retreat
Have poor judgment Not always expect rational discussion
Be preoccupied First get his/her attention
Be withdrawn Initiate conversation
Have changing emotions Disregard
Have confused plans Stick to one plan
Have little empathy for others Recognize this as a symptom
Believe delusions Ignore; change subject; donít argue
Have low self-esteem and motivation Remain positive