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Ask The Eye, Be Respectful of Crazy Uncle Joe

Dear Eye View

My 22-year-old son will soon meet my older brother, his uncle, for the first time. My brother has some mental problems and is subject to incoherent outbursts, paranoid ramblings, etc. … My son knows his uncle has some issues but he doesn’t know any particulars. Should I warn my son of the kind of behavior he might see from his uncle or is that unfair? Should I give my brother a chance to make a decent first impression? My brother can often be charming and coherent for short periods of time. Maybe I should just stay out of it and give him a chance? What do you think?

Need Help

Dear NH

I wish you had explained why it’s taken 22 years for your son to meet your brother. I hope it’s not because the person you are calling “Crazy Uncle Joe” has been locked away in the proverbial attic because of a sense of shame over mental illness. Your son is a grown man so surely he has known people will various mental disabilities—I bet he has even gone to school with them—and is able to grasp the concept that his uncle has schizophrenia, or whatever the diagnosis is. You explain to your son your brother’s history and that he can be charming and lucid, but also sometimes is incoherent and paranoid. Tell your son that whatever kind of day your brother is having, you know he will be patient and respectful of his Uncle Joe. Hope this helps.

EV

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