Could/should I find the man whose psychosis was directed at me?
February 11, 2013 4:19 PM   Subscribe

About a decade ago I started University in the UK. Towards the end of my first year a friend I made began to become paranoid. His behaviour towards me was particularly troubling, and eventually rumours circulated that he had been institutionalised. I have always wondered what happened to him, and if he is OK. My concerns linger these many years later, but tracking him down online has achieved nothing. Is there any way I can find out if everything turned out alright for him, preferably without causing too many ripples?

The fuller story to avoid questions...

This friend was a valued member of a new and exciting friendship group I made at that time. Many of those people are still close friends these many years later (including myself).

Towards the end of that academic year the guy started making accusations against my friends and I, most of which were utterly delusional. We all wondered whether his apparently mild drug use had something to do with the problems, but, of course, this was only conjecture and fuelled by rumour. His behaviour became increasingly unpredictable and socially problematic, and so naturally myself and my friends began to put some distance between us and him - difficult because we shared so many classes. In the end his erratic behaviour became mainly directed at me, the person in the friendship group who had perhaps been the closest to him. There were eventually some violent altercations, both in private and in front of other students and staff. People were very concerned for my safety, but I was always more worried about him hurting himself. My friends and I were obviously worried and talked to university staff about our worries for this guy, we really were more concerned about his health and well-being than anything. Staff basically told us they were dealing with it, and to keep them up to date.

This all took place at the end of the academic year. At that time examinations were taking place and the guy insisted that his name be changed on all academic forms. His new name was very very odd, and occasionally on examination room layouts you could see where he had crossed out his name and written in the new name.

When term began again in year two, the guy had gone, never to be seen or heard of again. Through the rumour mill we heard that he had possibly tried to attack a member of staff and had eventually been institutionalised. These rumours were backed up a number of years later by a chance conversation with an old member of staff at the university, but to be honest, the complete truth is unknown.

I'd really like to know what happened to the guy. Deep down in my psyche I am still worried about him. Tracking him down in the era of Facebook etc. should be easier than ever. I even tried both the names he was eventually using, but no luck. Any advice on this would be appreciated. I don't want to track him down in the flesh, just know how things turned out.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Think of his side of the equation. He may be better than he was then, in which case, being contacted by someone from his harder past might be embarrassing or triggering. Or he may still be having difficulties, in which case, you're just giving in to morbid curiosity.

Let your curiosity about him be just that. If he wants to get in touch with you, it seems that your group is still fairly close-knit, and a group of interconnected people on Facebook is easy enough to identify.
posted by xingcat at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2013 [17 favorites]

I truly think this is a bad idea.
posted by sm1tten at 5:20 PM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I would not seek him out. I had a similar experience, but with a family member. As a result, we kept getting thrown together whether I liked it or not. It really didn't help the person at all. Had I the choice, I couldn't imagine initiating encounters like that on purpose.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:29 PM on February 11, 2013

I'd really like to know what happened to the guy. Deep down in my psyche I am still worried about him.

But there isn't anything you can do for him, regardless of where or how you find him. Poking this hive may satisfy for you what is a harmless curiosity but for him, may be more destructive. People are entitled to privacy and you should respect his.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:43 PM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Don't do this. If he is still unwell at all, and gets wind of it (even through ISP tracing on a blog), you will regret this very, very much.
posted by availablelight at 5:46 PM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I read "psychosis was directed at me", I thought of this guy. It just seems like this could go all kinds of ways you really don't want it to go.
posted by capricorn at 6:07 PM on February 11, 2013

After a decade can you really say you're "worried" about him? Let sleeping dogs lie.
posted by rhizome at 6:15 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

It would be nice to know that his situation sorted itself out. It would be wonderful if he'd gone on to finish school and have a happy life. However, it's also possible he's still troubled and violent. You don't want to poke at this.

I get being worried about someone - even someone in the shadowy distant past. In this instance, you can't make his situation better. Hope for the best for him, but stay detached.
posted by 26.2 at 10:50 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of the wisest things I've ever been told is "Everything in life is low level information warfare". The itch of wanting or needing to know, beyond curiosity, is understandable. Been there. If you can afford it, consider hiring a private detective. This puts a buffer between you and the guy from the past. However:

- Check on likely and maximum costs
- Specify in writing exactly what you want to know, and that the other person isn't to be aware
- Check they are professional in their expertise and approach i.e. it isn't just someone who is a bit teccie. A good private detective should e.g. have provable access to various databases that regular people either don't have access to, or are unaware of.

Important thing. If you do get information back, you may not be able to share it e.g. with others in your group, as the question "How did you find this out?" may arise (as well as it being known that you have this info, which could be a problem in itself). Once you tell someone else, it's out there. So the answers are best kept to yourself.
posted by Wordshore at 11:25 PM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I don't think hiring a detective is a good idea. That seems like getting too invested, and it could cause all sorts of complications. I can relate to wondering/worrying about old friends, but I don't think you should take this any further than some idle web searching. It sounds like it's for the best that this guy is out of your life, and you probably shouldn't do anything that might bring him back into it.

If none of his old friends knows what happened to him and you can't find any evidence of him online, I'm guessing things did not go well for him and, assuming he's still alive, he's crazier than ever. Be careful.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:45 AM on February 12, 2013

Should you? No, I don't think so. I just don't see how it's really any of your business. I can understand the impulse of wanting to protect yourself from someone who might possibly do you harm, but it doesn't sound like that's the case here.

What would you do if you found out he was still unwell? There's not really a lot you can do at that point, unless you're a medical professional capable of helping him with his problems. Then you're stuck with the information that you have, and that's probably not going to enhance your life any.

Consider that if he's difficult to find, it's because he wants to be difficult to find. He might have made himself invisible on purpose, to give himself a clean break from his actions.
posted by Solomon at 2:05 AM on February 12, 2013

You sound more curious than truly worried --- honestly, 'worried' wouldn't have let a decade go by with no contact. As for hunting for him: please don't. The best possible result would be that he is living a stable satisfying life, and contact with you would remind him of a dark period in his life. The worst possible result would be that he is still troubled, and contact risks further damaging him mentally by kicking his paranoia back into high gear, or even risking physical damage to one or both of you.

Please let him be, wherever he is.
posted by easily confused at 3:12 AM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

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