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The Student who is Severely Disoriented or Psychotic

Your responsibilities are not to diagnose or provide therapy; it is the development of a compassionate and forthright conversation that ultimately helps a student in trouble find understanding, support, and the proper therapeutic resources

Facts about psychotic thinking:

The main feature of psychotic thinking is "being disconnected from reality".

Symptoms include:

  • Speech that makes no practical sense. The student seems confused about the current place, time, and/or has a poor awareness about the situation
  • Lack of a response to simple questions like, "Are you hungry?"
  • Extremely odd or eccentric behavior.
  • Significantly inappropriate or a complete lack of emotion
  • Bizarre behavior that indicates hallucinations
  • Strange beliefs that involve a serious misinterpretation of reality
  • Writing nonsense words or numbers
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to connect with or track normal interpersonal communication
  • Extreme and unwarranted suspicion

Bipolar disorder involves periods of serious depression which can be combined with periods of extreme euphoria and frenzied thinking and behavior, the latter of which can reflect a poor connection with reality. A person with bipolar disorder can appear psychotic.


Psychological illnesses that involve psychotic features often have an onset between the late teens and early 30s. Recognize that psychotic states can involve extreme emotion or lack of emotion and intense fear to the point of paranoia. Recognize that a student in this state may be dangerous to self or others.

What you can do:

  • Consult with a clinician at the Counseling Center (904) 620-2602.
  • Call 911 and then the Counseling Center if the student is highly impaired.
  • Consult with the Dean of Students Office or UNF Police (ask if there is a "Crisis Intervention Team or CIT officer on Duty")