In a good marriage, partners support each other and complement the other's strengths ... and provide a useful reality check from a different perspective. In others, that reality check goes by the wayside and the "support" factor veers completely over to the crazy side.
Some experts believe that's what's happening with Randy Quaid and his wife Evi, who have been in the news every now and again with another episode of bizarre behavior. An interview in Esquire this week talks about the Quaids' firm belief they are being pursued by a sinister group called the Star Whackers, who killed Heath Leger, Chris Penn, and David Carradine, all friends of theirs ... and might be involved in the shooting death of Hollywood publicist Ronnie Chasen. Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson are also on the Star Whackers list, they claim.
Seriously cray-cray, right?
Well, probably, but what some experts think is going on here is something called folie a deux, or shared psychiatric disorder. In it, one partner in a close relationship goes delusional due to some mental disorder, and convinces the other that their whackjob beliefs are true. The other person wouldn't ordinarily have delusions and don't show signs of any other mental illness that would cause delusional thinking.
It's as likely to affect siblings as husbands and wives, and sometimes involves more than two people.
So how do you know if your partner (or sister, or BFF) is making you nuts or really making you nuts? Usually, one person develops the delusion first and convinces the other person of it. The person with the delusions is the more dominant partner in the relationship. If your husband had you convinced that the neighbors are peeking in your windows and you can't call the police because they are all in this together, maybe you have a problem here ... unless the neighbors are, in fact, peeking in your windows.
Of course, people with mental illness don't think they are mentally ill. They think they're fine and you're the one who's crazy if you mention that their behavior might be a bit untethered to reality. The only effective treatment is intense therapy and usually a stay in a mental hospital ... separately.
And that's the problem ... people who have this love each other in a really intense way that makes separation incredibly painful. The Quaids, during one of their arrests, stretched out on either side of their cell wall so they could feel each other's warmth through cracks in the wall.
That's love, but in the Quaid's case it certainly looks like love gone wrong. Let's hope they get the help they need.
Image via Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office