Unhealthy conspiracy theories
October 19, 2012 2:23 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine has become so wrapped up in conspiracy theories that it's ruining his life. Help!

I have a friend who believes every conspiracy theory going. They're all linked. There will be a tsunami next week on Wednesday, the sun is a gateway to another dimension, and we are all being controlled by chemicals dropped from airplanes.

I've tried getting him to test his "predictions", and then re-evaluate them when they do not happen. I've tried applying common sense, Occam's razor, even saying nothing and letting him talk. None of it helps: I'm "not ready to know the truth".

The belief in these theories is becoming so strong that it is becoming destructive: he has quit his job to study them, friendships are ending. Lots of us have tried to help him, now we're out of ideas.

If this were a cult, I'd contact some kind of cult rescue centre, like the CIC.

What can I do that we haven't tried already?
posted by gorcha to Human Relations (35 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Fixed false beliefs are delusions, in psychiatric terms, you will get nowhere trying to convince him he is wrong. You can't force him to seek psychiatric help but there might be some way to take an angle on this without saying "you are wrong and you are crazy" that might convince him to see someone. Perhaps highlighting the recent changes in his life and saying you think it might help to talk to someone about these things? I think you'll have a tough time with this one.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:33 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just FYI, when this happened -- with pretty much the same trajectory -- to a close friend, it culminated in a diagnosis of schizophrenia. That was obtained with a planned visit to an ER known for having a decent mental health team, followed by an involuntary psychiatric hold under Florida's Baker Act. There are similar mechanisms in other states; Google "involuntary psychiatric hold _____."

This was the only way to get this person assessed. If this is a path you explore, be warned that my friend didn't speak to, and raged against, the people who put that plan in place for four years. In our case, nobody has any regrets; we feared both for his safety and (unusually, despite the stereotype of schizophrenia) for the safety of others. Sectioning him, getting a diagnosis, and getting him ongoing care is the only reason he's still alive.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:56 AM on October 19, 2012 [32 favorites]

I am not your friend's doctor but he might need a psychiatric assessment to rule out the possibility of psychosis. There is little you can do if his belief are truly delusions; defined in psychiatric terms as fixed false beliefs despite contrary evidence.

Rather than pushing the "you are crazy" angle to get him to see a psychiatrist, perhaps you can put forth the idea that it would be a good idea for him to see one to help him to deal with the stress of knowing the things that he does.
posted by ianK at 2:58 AM on October 19, 2012 [7 favorites]

I am not your friend's mental health provider, but I think a psych assessment would be helpful. If these are delusions, challenging him will not change his mind; it might add to any stress or paranoia he is experiencing about knowing these things and not being believed.
posted by catlet at 3:02 AM on October 19, 2012

If your friend's burgeoning psychotic experience works the way mine did, he won't be feeling any stress from knowing the things he does; he'll be feeling repeated, massive satisfaction as vast tectonic slabs of new understanding shift into place and lock together.

The main thing that helped me was absolutely straight talk from people I already loved and trusted. I knew perfectly well at the time that the only reason they could possibly be saying these things was because they hadn't yet Got It, but even so they managed to inject a tiny seed of niggling doubt which, given time and good sleep, did eventually grow into a desire to fact-check certain aspects of my wonderful new belief system.

Finding that none of it actually stood up to careful scrutiny was horrendously disappointing, and after it all fell apart I spent quite some while feeling absolutely bereft and frequently frightened of slipping back into the crazy. I'm truly lucky to have been surrounded and supported by loving friends and family during my recovery.

I understand and accept the standard advice that you can't talk anybody out of a delusional belief and that trying to do so is counterproductive. And I think that this is most likely excellent advice for anybody in the process of attempting to develop a therapeutic relationship with a deluded person. But if you already are such a person's close and trusted friend, you might have more leverage than you think.

If you love this man like a brother and fear for his mental health, tell him so and beg him to seek psychiatric assistance. Weep, if necessary. Remind him that you have no reason to lie to him; this might not have occurred to him. And if he shows any signs of willingness to indulge you, follow up. Find him a therapist and drive him to sessions.

If you're not that close - and there is absolutely no shame in not being that close - step back and try to avoid getting sucked into his emotional black hole so that you won't end up too traumatized to support his recovery.
posted by flabdablet at 3:28 AM on October 19, 2012 [60 favorites]

It's hard to decipher what's conspiracy and what's not these days as everything has the potential of being suspect. If your friend is losing ground about reality 101 - maybe some kind of spiritual intervention is required - along the lines of the Bigger Picture, Karma, soul contracts and Universal Laws in general. That might be the counter-weight needed to sway a rigid conspiracy mindset back into a healthy balance where not everything is doom and despair.
posted by watercarrier at 3:55 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

RationalWiki's page on "crank magnetism" may be helpful, though it doesn't deal in mental health terms.
posted by mcwetboy at 4:18 AM on October 19, 2012

Lots of people believe all kinds of kooky things and aren't mentally ill. But there's a big distinction: They still know how to function in the real world, they can just fit their weird beliefs into that system.

At the point where someone has quit their job, is finding conspiracies about literally everything, and is generally becoming non-functional about life, it isn't that they're a little kooky, it's that they're sick. They've lost the ability to do that rational analysis about life that is necessary to survive in the world. It's possible you can get through to him that he's sick; it's also possible that you can't. The same person, it may be possible or not on different days. You have to act, though, like he has an illness he can't control, whether he understands or not.

Make an attempt to contact his family, first, since it's usually easier for family to handle this, but if you can't, don't worry about what he thinks of you, make sure he gets in to someone who can do a psychiatric evaluation; start with the kind ways, but do not let him hit the point where his resources run out before he has a new support system in place to deal with this. I have a relative who is schizophrenic. He has not always been happy with family members and friends for the way they've intervened in his life, but it has saved his life more than once. On the other hand, once someone ends up on the street, getting adequate treatment for their issues gets exponentially harder.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:21 AM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the excellent answers so far. It's put me into a position I didn't expect to be in: I need to suggest to friends that he is closer to, that he is in need of professional help.

I guess there's an inbuilt doubt when you encounter the suggestion that someone you know might be mentally ill, and that's where I am now. I'd like to be very sure before I do this. What else should I look for or check? Is there some checklist I can show the others?
posted by gorcha at 4:50 AM on October 19, 2012

There is an overview of the DSM-IV's criteria for schizophrenia online. They can read it, but be sure to stress that they are not doctors, and if any of it rings true, he should be worked up by a real doctor. It is not their job to diagnose, just to suspect and get him help. The B section on slide 2 should be of particular help. Also see if he is writing things down any place. It can be hard to understand it all, but it should be possible to get a sense of if there is a 'person' telling him these things. The time I was an acquaintance, I read an envelope and realized he was still talking to a cousin of his best friend. She had died two years prior! That motivated his family to get him help, though he had already been arrested at that point. The folks at the jail, who read all the outgoing mail, didn't even put it together. No one wants to consider it is possible.

Be prepared for the folks you speak with to have already thought of this, and perhaps take offense at the suggestion. IANAD.
posted by jwells at 5:30 AM on October 19, 2012

One of the notable features of my own psychosis was a collapse of categories. I experienced a progressive tendency to ignore differences and treat unlike things as if they were the same; from the inside, this felt like discovering the essential nature of things but from my friends' point of view I was making less and less sense and just leaping unpredictably between unrelated topics.

At its peak, for example, it occurred to me that the reason astrology worked was that there were in fact only twelve people in the whole world, and that everybody I met was one of them. Reconciling this with being able to observe groups of more than twelve was no problem once I also understood that reincarnation was obvious and that multiple instances of any given person could easily co-exist.

There was a related collapse in the distinctions between words and the things they referred to. First to go were words that sounded alike; I remember finding it uproariously funny that a table with a block of hash on it and a hash table were actually just different aspects of the same thing.

The word and category collapses fed back on each other, to the point where I would attempt to explain myself in a stream of what must have sounded like word salad to anybody else. It all made perfect sense in my head; in fact I was incredibly pleased with my new command of deep metaphor. It was at this point that a good friend gently reminded me that the purpose of speech was to communicate ideas to other people, and that using words in ways that made sense only to me was therefore quite useless. I was truly impressed by and grateful for this subtle and non-obvious idea, which later became one of the seeds of doubt I mentioned earlier.

Only after recovery and reflection did I connect this experience with that of a former housemate who suffered periods of properly diagnosed schizophrenia (and whom I had incidentally been very pleased to recognize, even though wearing a completely different body and apparently speaking no English, as a fellow inmate in the Singapore psych ward I spent some time involuntarily confined to after getting naked at their airport). I think I actually do now understand his having once become obsessed with a forked twig and spending all day asking his "why stick" for answers.

If your friend's train of thought is becoming progressively harder to follow, and if he appears to be making more and more wild and apparently random connections when explaining himself, something similar might be going on with him.
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 AM on October 19, 2012 [48 favorites]

Some of the advice here may be helpful. I think the bit about getting more than one person at a time to confront him is especially important. Bosses use this to intimidate organizing workers, and unionizing workers use this to stand up to bosses. Confronting a person like your friend requires both a lot of fortitude and a lot of solidarity.
posted by cthuljew at 6:44 AM on October 19, 2012

Per DarlingBri and others talking about stealth/involuntary psychiatric assessment, does he have a spouse or other close family member whose business this sort of thing would be? If you guys are relatively young, do his parents know about this? If older, maybe siblings, children, etc?

Obviously involuntary psychiatric stuff is a huge minefield regardless, but if he's just a casual part of your social circle, that sort of thing is way way WAY not your place. It might be more your business to make sure his family knows he's going through this and that it's a much bigger deal than just "wacky cousin Joe with his crackpot tinfoil hat theories" who you try not to talk to at Thanksgiving.
posted by Sara C. at 6:48 AM on October 19, 2012

There will be a tsunami next week on Wednesday, the sun is a gateway to another dimension

I like a good conspiracy theory myself (with a whole lot of grains of salt), but those don't count as mere conspiracies. Dude needs meds ASAP.

FWIW, though, you can't just hold an "intervention" type event and appeal to his rationality to check himself into a psych ward. At best, he'll laugh it off that you all don't "get" it; More likely, he'll consider you all part of "the conspiracy" and instantly dump you all as friends (and he may even become violent if he sees himself in danger).
posted by pla at 6:50 AM on October 19, 2012

Yes, nthing psychiatric assessment. I'm sorry your friend is going through this!
posted by two lights above the sea at 6:53 AM on October 19, 2012

My closest friend in high school and college became obsessed with conspiracy theories our 2nd year at college. He took anything he found on the web as the truth. There was some blip on the Doppler radar in Arizona that just superimposed a huge circle on the state, and some person with a PhD said it was a giant spaceship that landed to convert us all into transcendent energy beings. He believed this to be the truth and was very angry with me for not agreeing with him.

Senior year he set fire to his roommate's bed and was diagnosed with schizophrenia like his father and his grandfather. He has been on medication on and off since then.
posted by MonsieurBon at 7:00 AM on October 19, 2012

I see schizophrenia and involuntary holds keep being mentioned in the thread. I have a a relative with schizophrenia, who I visited in state-run and private mental hospitals since the age of 5. Please do not do this until you truly consider him to be dangerous. And - before you even start thinking about getting an involuntary hold on your friend, please spend at least an afternoon in the place where he'd be locked up. They are not all wonderlands of help and healing. Remember: this is where the most dangerously mentally ill people are kept. Your friend will be locked up with them, he'll need to share a room at night with them when he sleeps. The workers can be underpaid and abusive, or just abusive. Become very informed about exactly what situation he will be in, in an involuntary hold, rather just enjoying the peace of mind of feeling like one has done something about him.
posted by cairdeas at 7:14 AM on October 19, 2012 [9 favorites]

In other words, they can be really horrific places that do way more harm than good, and it's not surprising at all to me that someone might not speak to someone else for many years after causing them to be locked up there.
posted by cairdeas at 7:17 AM on October 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

jwells: "There is an overview of the DSM-IV's criteria for schizophrenia online. They can read it, but be sure to stress that they are not doctors, and if any of it rings true, he should be worked up by a real doctor. "

Encourage your friend to seek psychiatric help, but please don't suggest to him that he might be schizophrenic. It sounds pretty clear that your friend is not being rational, and unless you can talk some sense into him (like flabdablet described above), suggesting that he might be schizophrenic is not going to help your cause.

Also, involuntary holds can be ghastly, but if your friend poses a risk to himself or others, it's still far better than the alternative.
posted by schmod at 8:09 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, honestly, he needs to be evaluated or, at least, monitored. My dad went from "The government is coming to take our guns!" to "The government is literally outside waiting to take my personal guns!" only nobody really took notice because he'd always been absorbed in conspiracy theories.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:17 AM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Again, as DarlingBri said, one of the search terms that's going to be powerful, even if you're outside of Florida, is "Baker Act" or "Baker Acting" or "Baker Acted".

Good luck with your friend, it sounds like you're taking this seriously as you should be.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:28 AM on October 19, 2012

I guess there's an inbuilt doubt when you encounter the suggestion that someone you know might be mentally ill, and that's where I am now. I'd like to be very sure before I do this.

That's the problem. You cannot be sure and this is not a risk-free endeavour. Even when it turned out that we were right and my friend was very ill indeed, he still vehemently turned on everyone connected to getting him into care. He would have done that regardless of the outcome because sectioning someone is not nice. It may be smart, ultimately kind, completely appropriate and even life-saving, but it isn't a friendly thing to do.

Two suggestions:

1) Find out what the Baker-Act-equivalent laws are in your state. It is possible in some states to meet up with your friend with a "new friend" in tow who happens to be a shrink with the authority to order a section after that kind of casual assessment. I am not sharing my opinion on whether this is a Godsend or Facism run amok or both; I'm just letting you know it may be a non-confrontational possibility.

2) We had an A Team and a B Team. The A Team was comprised of two friends who were fed up and ready to walk/fade out; the B Team was the people who were committed to sticking around regardless. The A Team did the deed and took the shit and the B team behaved sympathetically and very much on the side of my friend so that he didn't alienate his own entire support network.

I genuinely hope your mileage varies significantly. It has been a sad, scary, sad 10 years.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

You say that you want to be sure your friend is experiencing a psychiatric problem, and not just your run-of-the-mill conspiracy nut. The answer lies in the fact that your friend isn't just spouting a bunch of nonsense; he has quit his job and lost friendships because of it.

As a general rule, that's the boundary between "everyday issues" and "Serious Problem." When it affects your ability to function, when it impairs your life in a major way - as in losing a job - then it is a Serious Problem and likely needs professional intervention.

This holds true for everything from conspiracy theories to alcohol usage.

More specifically, paranoia and delusional behavior are textbook symptoms of several well-known psychiatric disorders.
posted by ErikaB at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

IANAP, but a word of caution. There is a distinction in the DSM-IV between schizophrenic disorder and schizotypal personality disorder. The latter involves believing wacko theories, yet the person with schizotypal personality remains, on the whole, connected to reality.

The schizotypal may believe that the moon landing was fake, that surrounding oneself with crystals promotes health, or that we are really governed by alien reptiles dwelling in bunkers underneath Washington, D.C., but he or she does not display the schizophrenic's active paranoia, disorganization of thought, and deterioration of functioning. This person is your dotty aunt or uncle or neighbor up the street who will bend your ear with their theories if they get a chance.

Only you (or, better, a trained psychiatrist) can tell whether your friend's behavior and personality are undergoing schizophrenic deterioration.
posted by bad grammar at 6:16 PM on October 19, 2012

posted by cairdeas at 9:55 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you tried setting up a situation where his desire to know who is really running things can butt heads with his belief in all the weird shit?

Try putting it to him that there's a far deeper and more subtle conspiracy than the ones he's already found, run by a loosely knit cabal of master media manipulators with books and videos to sell and advertisers to attract, and then sitting with him for all three hours of Ancient Aliens Debunked.

Because if what's going on with him is indeed at all like what went on with me, then he might be feeling so euphorically overwhelmed at the feeling of everything finally falling into place that he simply no longer feels any need for reality checks and is genuinely sorry for those like you who still do. Absolute certainty is an astoundingly powerful and irresistibly seductive emotion.

Ancient Aliens Debunked is pretty relentless and might well open up possibilities for a productive discussion of the motivations people have for belief in and especially promotion of belief in supposedly inexplicable phenomena. And even if it doesn't do that immediately, it might at least be the little thing from which a big thing later grows.

The Men Who Stare At Goats would be good for another session, and you could buy him a copy of Why People Believe Weird Things for his bedside table. You might not be able to arrest a slide into madness, if that is indeed what's happening, but if you give him reasons to remember that you cared about him enough to try, you may well ease his climb back out.

I've been criticised before for mentioning my favourite William Burroughs quote of all time, but I don't care. Having been on the receiving end of that attitude, as delivered from a place of love, I rate it as one of the bravest and kindest things ever written.
posted by flabdablet at 3:41 AM on October 20, 2012 [6 favorites]

OP, with regard to finding a checklist, start with what ErikaB said. Also read about Psychosis.

flabdablet Try putting it to him that there's a far deeper and more subtle conspiracy than the ones he's already found, run by a loosely knit cabal of master media manipulators with books and videos to sell and advertisers to attract, and then sitting with him for all three hours of Ancient Aliens Debunked.

I don't see this as helpful at all. OP, you are describing someone who has lost contact with reality, who has florid delusions and the etiology is not known at this point.

What you should do is make an appointment with a mental health professional who works with people suffering from such symptoms and listen to their advice. They will be able to help you plan what your next step should be, but please, do not wing it and challenge the persons delusions by showing them movies.
posted by mlis at 5:48 AM on October 20, 2012

Just one more thing and then I'll shut up.

Work-related stress and the associated lack of sleep were a large part of what sent me off the rails, and my recovery didn't really get much traction until I was back from overseas and sleeping in my own bed again. If the job your friend has just quit was also a highly stressful one, you might find that his having done so will turn out well for him.

If it turns out that you don't in fact have any effective way to get him hooked up with a competent mental health professional, then whatever you can do to steer him away from the use of recreational psychoactives and toward balanced eating, good sleep and healthy exercise will do no harm, especially if he has company.
posted by flabdablet at 7:09 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

your "conspiracy theory" is his religion. if someone quits their job to devote their life to Christ or Buddha or whatever, devote their life to reading the bible or something, drift away from their non-religious friends, i doubt you'd be so worried.

The belief in these theories is becoming so strong that it is becoming destructive: he has quit his job to study them, friendships are ending. Lots of us have tried to help him, now we're out of ideas.

those aren't necessarily destructive things, he's just going in a different direction with his life. if you still want to be his friend you should respect his beliefs like the religious beliefs of any person you don't agree with.

if he could harm himself or others though, that's a different AskMe.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:15 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most areas have some sort of out-reach program for interacting with people who might be at risk due to possible mental illness. A lot of this is run through Medicare and usually there are no charges involved. Checking the phone book for your local equivalent and telephoning them could get you information about how things work locally - there is no national consensus on how services should be administered and what the norms are. I literally cannot speak to those unless you were local to me, in which case I know more about it than I'd like.

However, there are national standards on involuntary holds and they have been in place for several decades, resisting attempts on both sides to change them. The criteria for an involuntary hold is 1) danger to self; 2) danger to others; 3) gravely disabled. All three of these criteria are open for interpretation, and the local tendency where I am is to view them very strictly unless there is an interpersonal reason not to. For example, there is a large population that is "known" to the people who handle involuntary commitment (we have an outpatient group which is the combo emergency response team and the evaluators for commitment, but I am sure other places are different) who may have either strictor (someone known to threaten suicide when they are lonely will start being refused commitment) or laxer (someone who stabalizes quickly inpatient who is at great risk outpatient will often be let in more easily) depending on who is involved.

There is a lot you can do to be a friend to your friend without going the route of trying to remove his civil liberties, however.

From the examples you give, it sounds like your friend has a high level of anxiety and is caught up in the horrors in the world that we're all hearing about more now with the increased contact between countries. This is not unusual, and is understandable. What can help if you disagree with WHAT your friend is afraid of, is discussing instead your own fears and connecting with him through the emotional content of his experiences without getting bogged down in the facts. Portents of doom are incredibly common (I can remember at least twenty "the world will end" events in my life, and I'm not that old) and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the panic inherent in them. As his friend, empathizing with that could be very powerful for him, especially if you share areas where you have been irrationally afraid of things.

Another thing you can do is find things to do together which involve less talking, and if there is talking it's about concrete things. For example, games, or cards, or puzzles, making models, doing woodworking, going fishing, hiking, any sort of thing where there are things to talk about which are physically present. If he brings up some of his theories and it's stressing you out, you can say, "Look, I'd really rather not talk about that right now. Can you find the purple puzzle pieces for me, I think I'm on a roll." The last paragraph's actions may well have taken the pressure out of his emotional content, and having something concrete you are doing means that it will be easier for both of you to talk about things which are NOT the thing driving people away.

If I were his friend, after a while I would be inclined to say something to the effect of, "Look, this isn't my place at all, but I really care about you, so I want to have my say. I am really worried about you. The fact that you quit your job has me worried you might not be able to have enough food or a place to live. It also seems like you are so focused on your theories that you can't talk to people about much else. I think you should go to your doctor to talk about it, and if you'd like I'd be willing to go with you just for company and because that can be scary. It's your decision, though. I care about you no matter what." However he reacts, just have your say. If he's upset, you can be like, "I'm sorry I upset you, but I don't feel like I'd be a good friend if I kept quiet. Look, can we go do [activity we enjoy together] and have fun? Or do you need some alone time?"

Good luck, and best wishes to your friend. It sounds like he's really scared right now, and that is a sucky world to live in.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:28 PM on October 20, 2012

Again, OP, you do not have the power to section or confine your friend, nor do you have the power to remove his civil liberties. The goal here, as articulated by any number of people, is to have your friend assessed by someone who is legally and clinically competent to make that call. Assessment does not inevitably lead to involuntary hold.

In an attempt to make this point for the third time without ramping up this conversation, I have actually made you a flow chart. Other people are free to make you different flow charts.

When I start making flow charts, I assume I am thwacking the boundaries of reasonable discourse with my head, so I'm bowing out for the evening.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:38 PM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I know a few people who are ardent conspiracy theorists. One has become distant from old friends. The other has learned to keep the theories (mostly) out of the workplace. Both are able to take care of themselves.

I liken conspiracy beliefs to cult belief; the believer needs a sense that there's a reason for things, that it couldn't be as simple as a diabolical and ruthless plan for 4 guys to hijack planes and use them as bombs; it must be part of a conspiracy by the government. They are able to find a lot of evidence to support their beliefs, and it seems to help them make sense of the world. It also provides a sense of meaning - they're part of the group trying to expose wrongdoing and lies.

You can't really diagnose your friend's mental illness. Mental health diagnosis isn't easy, even for people who are trained. You can assess the impact on his life, and try to help him cope. I'd recommend really listening to your friend, and assessing your friend's life skills. If your friend has lost his job, home, ability to care for himself, then hook him up with social services to assist him with food, housing, etc., If you can maintain the friendship, you can be a valuable resource. But like any (religious or not) conversion experience, your friend is unlikely to be swayed without a replacement for the needs being met.
posted by theora55 at 9:37 AM on October 21, 2012

Is there some checklist I can show the others?

Arguably, the go-to in this field is the DSM, as mentioned above by bad grammar. It does, among other things, serve as a guideline for various diagnosis of just about every mental disorder you've heard of, some you've not heard of, as well as the catchall of NOS (Not Otherwise Specified).

You could have a read for a bit of self edification but keep in mind that attempting to actually use this to diagnose your friend and/or prove something to someone else is akin to trying to perform surgery after having checked out and read Gray's Anatomy from your local library. Not a good idea. Leave that part to the pros if/when your friend goes in to see them.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:05 PM on October 21, 2012

Thanks for the very helpful advice. I was a little taken aback by the number of replies which suggest involuntary commitment, and so I waited to see what would happen with him.

It turns out that my friend's conspiracy theories are tied to his income. Since he has stopped working to continue his "studies" he has less money, and has become less fanatical.

He still has the problem, but the magnitude of the problem is much less than it was before. So an improvement.

Since he is convinced that the world will end tomorrow, perhaps he will have a revelation on Saturday.

Many thanks.
posted by gorcha at 4:41 AM on December 20, 2012

Amazing what a bit of stress removal and sleep improvement can do for mental health.

It's been Dec 21 for nearly three hours here. No sign of the end of the world so far.

Best to your friend. I still reckon you should show him Ancient Aliens Debunked when you reckon he'd be ready.
posted by flabdablet at 7:43 AM on December 20, 2012

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