What Is A Delusion?


I was just wondering a few things.. First of all, I am really unsure about delusions? How does a deluded person come across there delusions? do they understand that they are not correct?, do they simply get a crazy thought in there head and it just sticks?? I have a relative who is having problems…? Does a deluded person realize that what they are thinking is not correct?.. and how would you tell if you are deluded yourself?? Thanks for your time

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Dombeck intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Dombeck to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Dombeck, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Dombeck and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

Delusions are fixed and firmly held beliefs that have no basis in reality. By definition, then a person who has a delusion believes in that delusion and is not aware that the delusion is in fact false. For this reason, If you yourself were delusional, chances are pretty good that you would not know it. Delusional people are typically people with either fairly serious neurological disorders (such as Schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease), or people with rigid, inflexible ways of understanding the world (such as some religious ‘fanatics’, and personality disordered people). Certain types of delusions appear with great regularity and can be classified into types. Erotomanic delusions involve the wrong-headed belief that some (famous) person is madly in love with you. Grandious delusions involve the belief that one is much greater and more important than they really are (for instance, the belief that you are Jesus Christ). Jealous delusions involve the belief that your spouse is cheating on you (when he/she is not). Persecutory delusions involve the belief that authorities or bad guys are coming to get you (when they are not). Somatic delusions involve the belief that one’s body is sick, infested with bugs, smelly, etc. when in actuality there is no such illness, infestation, etc. How does a delusional person generate their delusional beliefs? Good question. In my experience, usually, delusions start with a misinterpretation of something that has actually happened. So, a schizophrenic man I once knew saw a man walking down the street who (I suspect) looked a little like a family member. Due to his thought-disorder, he mis-interpreted this man for his brother, and started telling us that his brother was following him around. An Alzheimer’s patient will commonly misplace his/her wallet, forget where he or she put it, and will then start believing that other people around him/her are stealing from him/her. A religiously minded individual I knew in the middle of a manic episode once mistook the euphoria and odd sensations of bipolar disorder as a sign that he was the archangel Michael. The concrete and actual event is mis-interpreted, due to brain/cognitive impairments or rigid beliefs or both into an untrue belief that they continue to hold onto even in the face of no evidence.

More "Ask Dr. Dombeck" View Columnists

Myndfulness App

Designed to Help You Feel Better Daily

Myndfuless App Rating

Download Now For Free

Learn More >