We have seen from other articles that I have published on this site that those who have suffered severe childhood trauma are more likely to develop various psychiatric conditions in adult life than those who avoided such experiences (all else being equal).
Two of these conditions : A) DEPRESSION WITH PSYCHOTIC FEATURES (click here to read my article about the link between childhood trauma and depression) and B) SCHIZOPHRENIA (click here to read my article about the link between childhood trauma and SCHIZOPHRENIA) may involve the sufferer developing psychotic delusions.
In this article, I will first define the term ‘PSYCHOTIC DELUSION’ and, then, describe the main types of such delusions:
What Is Meant By The Term ‘PSYCHOTIC DELUSION?’
A PSYCHOTIC DELUSION results from a THOUGHT DISORDER that gives rise to BLATANTLY FALSE BELIEFS. Whilst the belief is clearly and obviously false, the person who holds it has an UNSHKEABLE BELIEF that the belief is true, even in the face of utterly overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Classification of delusions:
Delusions can be classified as follows:
They can be:
A) Bizarre or non-bizarre
B) Mood-congruent or mood- incongruent
I define these classifications below:
BIZARRE – extremely strange and odd beliefs that are CLEARLY IMPOSSIBLE. For example, a belief that the birds’ singing is really Morse code and they are communicating with each other in such code in order to form a plot to take over the world.
NON- BIZARRE – the belief held is still clearly wrong but, theoretically, not totally impossible. For example, a belief that the government has placed listening devices in every room of one’s house.
MOOD – CONGRUENT – the delusion is in line with the mood the person manifests as a result of his/her condition. For example, a depressed individual who believes that aliens have removed the part of his/her brain the used to give rise to the experience of pleasure. Or, a person who is manic may believe s/he has supernatural powers
MOOD – INCONGRUENT – the delusion is not obviously in line with the individual’s prevailing mood (eg. a newsreader on the TV is talking about him/her. These are sometimes referred to as ‘mood-neutral’ delusions
Within these classification groups, delusions can also be of a specific type. I list these types below:
– Delusions of jealousy : an all-consuming obsession that one’s partner is being unfaithful when there is no evidence this is the case and there is no objective reason for suspicion.
– Delusions of nihilism : the belief that oneself, other people or the world do not really exist
– Delusions of grandeur ,: a belief one is a person of massive importance such as Jesus, Emperor of the World etc. Or the belief one has made a great achievement (that the world refuses to recognise) such as a belief one has written plays vastly superior to those of Shakespeare when, in reality, they are barely literate.
– Delusions of control : a belief that one is having one’s thoughts and behaviour controlled by an external force eg. by aliens
– Delusions of reference : a clearly false belief that people are talking about one or making reference to one when they are not eg. a belief that the newsreader on the radio is always referring to one in a or a coded or indirect manner
– Delusions of guilt : a false belief one is responsible for some terrible event (such as a belief one is personally responsible for all the starving people in the world
– Erotomania : the belief a famous person or person of high status (normally a person the sufferer of the delusion has never met) is deeply and passionately in love with one ( click here to read my article on this)
– Delusions of mind-reading : the belief that others are reading one’s mind
– Delusions of persecution : the belief that others are conspiring against one ( eg trying to poison or drug one)
– Religious delusions: Delusions with a religious theme eg that one is a human incarnation of God
– Somatic delusions : these are delusions about one’s body ( eg that ants are crawling under one’s skin)
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE (FAHE).