To examine the dilemmas for children, family, and mental health professionals posed by the presence of a delusional parent in a family, including someone with induced psychotic disorder (IPD); to identify frequently unrecognized problems; and to propose practical suggestions for professionals.
The pertinent literature on the effects of delusional parents on children, families, and professionals is reviewed. By way of 3 case vignettes, the dilemmas are identified and discussed.
Delusional disorders are underdiagnosed, resulting in poor anticipation of their implications. Unanticipated family factors, such as “pursuit of isolation” and the related heightened risk of violence, contribute to the failure of professional interventions, which has been described as “therapeutic systems paralysis.”
These cases are complex, often requiring multisystemic involvement to reduce the risks of flight, violence, psychosis, posttraumatic stress disorder, and other psychiatric sequelae to children and other family members. The critical features of the innovative collaboration (“therapeutic consensus”) required between professionals for successful therapeutic interventions with these families are described.