Schizophrenia: Rachel and Melanie

Melanie's and Rachel's mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia about three years ago. Soon after, their grandmother was also diagnosed.

"My grandmother had an episode at my house and it was really scary. It was just me and my sister home and we didn't know what to do. We're dealing with three generations of mental illness," says 17-year-old Rachel. 

Melanie, 23, says that her mom has been in the hospital once annually for the last three years, each time for about three months.
"Before my mom was diagnosed, she would take care of us and take care of the household and just be a really great mom."

"At the present moment my mother's not doing well at all," says Rachel. "Her medications aren't strong enough for what she has right now, and she's getting worse every day. It's really rough to watch.


"My daily life is really stressful," Rachel continues. "I have a lot of weight on my shoulders and I can't get rid of it sometimes. My sister and I talk about schizophrenia and what are the chances that I might have it or my sister might have it. I worry about having signs myself and if I would notice and what I would do about it. I worry a lot that I will be diagnosed with this sickness. It's always in the back of my mind, all the time."

Dr. Phil says, "Let me ask both of you this, and I want you to think

about it, and I want you to be very, very honest with me." He turns to Mary, another guest with schizophrenia, and asks, "You first started hearing some voices as early as your teens, right? Before you were 16, but certainly when you were 16. Pretty regularly by the time you were 18."

Mary confirms that at 18 she had her first full psychotic break.

"Yeah, but you didn't talk about this for a number of years before you had your full psychotic break, correct?" asks Dr. Phil.

"Right," says Mary, "because my mother also has schizophrenia and growing up with her and knowing that she heard voices, you know, lights talking to her and seeing people that weren't there, I knew that that was probably happening to me, but I was in denial."

"So the question to both of you is simply this: Are you experiencing any of those things that you don't want to be there, but they are there? Are you hearing any voices? Are you having any other than just normal — we all kind of feel put upon sometimes — but I'm talking about delusional sorts of things, or hallucination experiences at all. How about you?" he asks Melanie.

"Me? No. No. I haven't experienced anything like that," she says.

"It's like so many things that we talk about in healthcare. Early detection and early intervention is very, very important," Dr. Phil says. "Now, what I want to say to you is that, frankly, we don't know everything we need to know about schizophrenia. But I'm just going to tell you that I just don't believe that anybody has a clear understanding of the for sure etiology of schizophrenia. We've not found the

schizophrenia gene, that you either have it or you don't. Research tends to indicate that there may be about a 10 percent genetic component to schizophrenia. And if you get schizophrenia then there is a higher concentration of somebody in your family having had it than in the general public. I just really have to tell you that there are so many things that contribute to this. And if you're good about managing stress in your life, and you're good about dealing with your problems and not internalizing things, it's always good for your mental health, but you are not in genetic prison here, headed for schizophrenia. Do you believe me when I tell you that?"

Both sisters say, "Yeah."

"Alright. I think that's very important," says Dr. Phil.