“Spotlight on Sibling Involvement in Schizophrenia Treatment” by Mary V. Seeman

Analysis of the Article

This paper provides an analysis of this article by Seeman and discusses the findings and arguments of the author as well as assessing their relevance to the treatment of schizophrenia with regard to related literature.

It has been observed that, in family settings, there is a lack of early involvement of siblings in taking care of individuals with Schizophrenia. This is usually because the symptoms might not be severely evident at a young age and that, in most cases, parents opt to handle the needs of the child with special needs on their own until when they are no longer capable of doing it by themselves. This “shielding” by parents results in the normal children interpreting the attention and special care accorded to the pre-schizophrenic sibling as favoritism. This is a significant reason why, in adulthood, siblings might display little or lacking intimacy in the treatment of their counterparts with schizophrenia. Normal siblings are usually faced with the care giving responsibilities for schizophrenic individuals only when their parents are physically incapable of taking care of the schizophrenic offspring or pass away. This comes as a challenge to most individuals who usually lack experience and knowledge of taking care of schizophrenics. Some individuals completely neglect their responsibilities of taking care of their brothers or sisters with schizophrenia once their parents die.

Individuals with schizophrenia exhibit aggressive behavior. This may include violent outbursts to family members. They are also loud, promiscuous and engage in acts that are considered inappropriate and a nuisance in society. Schizophrenics are also notoriously unhygienic. These factors associated with schizophrenia bring shame to families as well encourage their stigmatization in the society. This is usually due to the identification of the disorder in the roots of the family setting. They also result in the patient becoming a social misfit. This is one of the major causes of the intense stigmatization associated with the disorder. This discourages siblings from assuming responsibility, and thus they distance themselves from their ill siblings to avoid any form of embarrassment.

Schizophrenics might refuse to acknowledge their condition, and this often results in them refusing to undergo treatment and becoming hostile towards family members. Siblings may find it very difficult to instruct, convince and even control individuals with this psychotic behavior, due to a deficiency in age and authority backgrounds. A combination of these two factors presents a big barrier to convincing individuals with schizophrenia to consider or accept any step in treatment, due to the lack in an established firm authority like that of their parents. This undermines their role in the treatment of their schizophrenic counterparts.

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As much as the behavior depicted by schizophrenics is responsible for strained ties between schizophrenics and their siblings, the siblings themselves also play a major role in straining of these ties. Most siblings feel that it is the responsibility of the parent rather than theirs to take care of the ill individual. This is a misguided notion. They usually assume the task of providing care for the sick individual after the death of their parents. This transition of responsibility is often associated with a lot of anxiety and burden.

Some siblings distance themselves from schizophrenic individuals because of sheer jealousy. Most are envious of the financial and emotional attention given to the schizophrenic individuals, and this distances them. These strains may persist into adulthood and are a major reason why siblings are not actively involved in the treatment and care of schizophrenic individuals. Some siblings may also feel that certain behaviors portrayed by their schizophrenic counterparts are exaggerated and simply serve as gimmicks to win parental affection. This causes strains in sibling relations. These strains may be accentuated by sibling rivalry.

Normal sibling ties thrive on mutual shows of affection and trading of favors. Most siblings find it difficult to provide care to a person who will not reciprocate the favor or, rather, is incapable of displaying a similar act of charity. Most siblings do not find it inviting to provide care and actively participate in the treatment of the schizophrenic individuals, especially because they may not show gratitude for their input. In most cases, they repay this with aggression and violence. This serves to discourage caregiving efforts. On the death of parents, siblings incur the financial burden associated with the treatment of the schizophrenic individual. This becomes strenuous, especially if one is young or financially unstable. This discourages the siblings from assuming responsibility for the ill person. This point can be further illuminated by analyzing a similar article by Stalberg, Ekerwald and Hultman. In their article, they conducted a similar study to investigate the role of siblings in treating schizophrenia, and one of their respondents’ replies “Yes, it’s hell. She gets beaten if she doesn’t stop. She’s incredibly mean to our mother and she sure as hell doesn’t deserve that.” According to Gabriella Stalberg and her colleagues, authors of “Siblings of Patients with Schizophrenia”, Schizophrenia Bulletin, the behavior of the ill individual towards the parents’ stirs anger in her siblings, and this further leads to a situation that sieblings become detached and unwilling to partake in matters regarding her treatment (Gabriella Stalberg 450).

The writer points out those sisters of schizophrenic patients show most concern in the treatment of individuals with schizophrenia compared to other siblings. This is mostly facilitated by cultural and family values, as well as family roles, and is mostly out of pity for the burden to provide care by parents of the schizophrenic; or simply out of affection for the individual.

In one of the case settings, the author mentions that there are push and pull factors that are involved in addressing sibling participation in the treatment of the condition. Seeman in her article “Spotlight on Sibling Involvement in Schizophrenia Treatment” mentions that push factors towards providing care in the treatment programs for schizophrenia include “Early socialization and feelings of closeness within the family” (Seeman 318) and that pull away factors include demands associated with midlife, for example, careers, parenthood, and marriage. Seaman explains that the more severe the diagnosis, the more distanced siblings becomes. This is in order to escape the anguish associated with this condition. This information correlates with the findings of a similar study by Smith, Greenberg and Seltzer, who quote, “One pull factor that might limit sibling involvement is the severity of the sibling’s illness.” Smith and his colleagues in “Siblings of Adults with Schizophrenia: Expectations about Future Care giving Roles.” Further, states that the sibling’s view of their brother’s or sister’s schizophrenia plays a critical role in determining the nature of sibling participation in their treatment and care (Smith PhD 29). The article by Smith and his colleagues also states that more siblings are willing and expected to take on a care giving role in the future. This information was not provided in Seeman’s article. It is important since it shows there is hope for getting siblings more involved in the treatment and care of schizophrenics.


In conclusion, Seeman’s article conclusively addresses the fact that most siblings do not participate in the treatment of their brothers or sisters, who have schizophrenia. This is a consequence of many factors, including misbehavior by the ill individual, jealousy and envy, sibling rivalry, financial shortcomings and ecological perception of the condition among others. The writer does a good job in identifying the gap for sibling participation in treating schizophrenia, investigating it and providing a substantial conclusion about the matter. It is fundamental that siblings are encouraged to take on the role of caregivers for schizophrenic individuals instead of leaving it to parents as has been the case, which was discussed in this paper.

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