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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: My Autistic son sees ghosts--psychotic??

 CharlieCabo - Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:12 pm

I have a 13 yr old son with significant medical history from birth, but has over come all medical issues. Now doctors diagnose PDD, ADD, 3 learning disabilities, Static Encephalopathy. He is very "here","very high functioning" intelligent, communicates well with adults, peers not so much, with bully problems, too nice for other kids. Has interesting way (bond) with animals. His IQ is 121 and his creative IQ is 137.

Question: He sees and talks to ghosts. has details about them, their families and how they died. We are in the middle of a new neuro eval and neurologist JUMPED at his comment of seeing ghosts. Neurologist said, he is hallucinating and referred him to Psychiatry stating he can't take ADD meds due to the dopamine would make his hallucinations worse and make him psychotic...Neurologist says no such thing as ghosts (I understand as I am on the fence about this myself) but to automatically "label" him psychotic????

How "on target" is this? Do I get another opinion?
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:15 pm

Hello, CharlieCabo,

The subject of ghosts is an interesting one. In most societies, the existence of ghosts (or the lack of existence of ghosts) is tied to religious thought. Some believe, some don't believe. Some may feel the subject is evil. People who hallucinate or have delusions may have ghosts incorporated into their pathology; it can be during a psychotic episode. On the other hand, it can be an expression of an expansive imagination. Did your son have imaginary friends when he was younger? Has he had other phases of unusual thought processes? His creative IQ suggests an ability to think beyond usual norms with considerable comfort. It does not seem reasonable to attach a label of psychosis without further evaluation, due to his already unusual manner of thought within the autism. It does seem reasonable to have a psychological or psychiatric evaluation to rule out psychosis. Whether we personally believe ghosts exist or not, there are many highly functional people who do, without psychosis. I encourage you to proceed with psychological evaluation; if possible, speak with the evaluator about their own willingness to evaluate with an open mind before assigning a label. If you're comfortable with their response, you'll likely be more accepting of their determination.

Good luck to you and to your son.

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