A delusion is defined as a false or inaccurate belief that typically involve a misunderstanding of an experience or perception. Delusions are typically a symptom of an underlying mental disorder and are considered beliefs that are clearly false that point towards an abnormality or instability of a person’s thought process.
A person suffering from a delusion is absolutely convinced that what they feel is real, with the key feature of the delusion being the degree in which a person believes what they think to be true. They will stand by their belief, no matter what evidence is presented that is contrary to what they believe.
Delusion falls into four separate categories. These include:
There are several different types of delusions. They are typically classified as a delusional disorder and include the following:
Grandiose delusions: When a person believes they are much more important, intelligent, famous, or in higher social standing than they really are. This is also known as delusions of grandeur.
Persecutory delusions: When a person believes they are being spied on, stalked, conspired against, or harassed by an individual or organisation.
Delusional jealousy: When a person believes their partner or spouse is being unfaithful. It is also known as morbid jealousy or pathological jealousy. A person will often go to great lengths to prove their partner is being unfaithful.
Delusions of love (erotomania): When a person is convinced that an individual they are romantically interested in is in love with them. It can lead to stalking, anger, and jealousy. It is commonly experienced when there has been no interest shown by the victim, and when there is typically no contact between the two people.
Somatic delusional disorder: When a person is convinced something is wrong with them. This can lead to unwarranted doctor visits and unnecessary surgeries. It can also cause depression and suicidal thoughts.
While the underlying cause of delusion isn’t always apparent, it is believed biochemical and neurological factors may contribute to the development of delusion. A chemical imbalance in the brain is a common contributing factor to delusion. Other factors that may cause delusions to occur include stress, social isolation, low economic status, drug abuse, and the death of a loved one.
It is believed that individuals who have a family member that suffer from delusions are more likely to develop delusions themselves. Genetic predisposition is a common factor for experiencing delusion in one’s lifetime.
People who suffer from dysfunctional cognitive processing may also experience delusions. This can occur because the explanations they have for the way their life plays out is illogical and often distorted.
Delusions can also happen when life events or stress becomes too much for a person to handle. This typically occurs in individuals who are already predisposed to delusional thinking.
Treatment for delusion is typically dependent on the cause. Common types of treatment for delusional thinking include medication, psychotherapy, and various self-help mechanisms.
Psychotherapy: This is typically the most common form of treatment for people suffering from delusions. Psychotherapy can help a person understanding the reasons behind their delusional thoughts and help them make positive changes that can benefit the way they think and react. Therapy for delusion typically lasts from six months to over a year.
Medication: While medication doesn’t always help people who suffer from delusions, it can help when an underlying condition causes them such as schizophrenia. Anti-psychotic medication is the preferred medication of choice for delusions, although it may not be effective in all patients who take it.
Delusion can be caused by a variety of environmental and biological factors. Stress, alcohol and drug abuse, social isolation, and genetic predisposition are all known to cause delusion.
Common symptoms and signs of delusion may include: suspiciousness, trouble concentrating, anxiety, withdrawal from friends and family, anxiety, hallucinations, and more.
Delusion will affect everyone who experiences them differently. The most common example of delusion however, is paranoia or the belief that someone else is out to get them.
Understanding delusions, Chandra Kiran and Suprakash Chaudhury, Industrial Psychiatry Journal
Delusion Causes, Dr Ananya Mandal, MD, NewsMedical Life Sciences
How delusions occur, and why they may be widespread!, Rob Hoskin, Science Brainwaves