Welcome to Bipolar in Focus, I'm Jane Pauley.
Many families dealing with bipolar feel helpless because their loved one refuses treatment. Psychologist Xavier Amador is the author of "I'm Not Sick, I Don't Need Help."
How is it possible that someone can have bipolar and not know it?
The reason is the organ that is responsible for the symptoms of bipolar disorder is the same organ we use to look at ourselves.
The part of the brain is involved in self-monitoring, self-reflection is the frontal lobes of our brain, is also affected.
And so we have many, many people with bipolar disorder about half who have no idea that they're mentally ill. It's another symptom of the illness. It's not denial.
How important is it that you get your loved one to realize they are sick?
If your loved one is in that other half that has the symptom of lack of insight,
it's really important that you take that goal of convincing them that they're sick and you put it way up high up on a shelf, in a back closet lock the key and throw it away.
Don't try to convince them they're sick because all that will do is make them run away from you.
Okay. Well, how do you get there?
The way you do it is to stop confronting and educating. If the person is unable to understand they're ill. Telling them they're ill is going to do what?
You'll get a lot of push back.
Right. Push back and defensiveness. It's a lot like boxing. You throw a punch, the person blocks it. What I teach which is more like Judo.
So when somebody throws a punch rather than blocking it, you take their arm and you move them in the direction they're already headed.
And what that translates into is, you never argue about being mentally ill. You never argue with the person about having bipolar disorder. That's never your goal.
What is the goal?
The goal is to first and foremost get this person to want to sit down and talk to you. Get this person to feel that you respect his point of view.
And how is that causing the denier to suddenly surrender to, "Well okay, I'll go find out if I am."
The person who is unaware what it causes them to do is to become less defensive. And to be willing to sit and talk about how,
"You know my family is driving me crazy. Everybody says I'm mentally ill. Everybody says I need medicine. I have this under control, leave me alone."
And if you listen to that person and you reflect it back, their defenses go down and they're willing to talk to you.
What you don't want to see is the back side of this person walking out the door angry saying, "Leave me alone, I don't need help." Your goal is to help them find their own reasons to be in treatment.
Maybe to help them with the sleep, maybe to help them to get off probation at work, maybe to help them stay out of the hospital.
But don't take medicine because you're sick. Let's take medicine because of the problems you've told me about. Let's do it for that reason.
Dr. Amador, thank you very much and thank you for watching Bipolar in Focus.