Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that disrupts the normal functioning of the human brain, resulting in a variety of psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, abnormally disorganized behavior, irritability, isolation, etc. In this article, we’ll be elaborating in length about ‘delusions’ and understanding delusion meaning.
What is the Meaning of Delusions?
In simple psychiatric terminology, a person is said to be experiencing delusions when he or she is observed to have ‘fixed’ false beliefs that cannot be argued or talked out rationally. Moreover, these beliefs cannot be accounted for by the socio-cultural background of the individual. To put it more simply, delusion is believing in something with utmost conviction that doesn’t hold in reality. Some brief examples of delusions would be feeling like they are being chased by someone, or everyone around keeps staring at them, or vaccination controls people’s minds.
Note: Figuring out if a person’s false belief is so rigid to be termed a ‘delusion’ can be tricky. One needs to deeply examine if they are open to changing their perception of that false belief.
Delusions vs Hallucinations: The Difference
Delusions are often confused with hallucinations.The difference between hallucinations and delusions is that delusions are rigid false beliefs that one continues to believe despite being confronted with evidence while hallucinations on the other hand mean a person is hearing, seeing, sensing, or feeling things that no one else is. Yes, a lot of times delusions are indeed accompanied by hallucinations, especially in schizophrenia. And often these hallucinations reinforce the existing delusion. But it does not necessarily happen with every patient.
Most Common Types of Schizophrenia Delusions
Unlike other diseases with definitive symptoms and signs, schizophrenia is a mental disorder, which means each patient’s experience will be slightly different from another. Having said that, medical professionals over the years have managed to categorize the different types of delusions , out of which we’ll be talking about the most common ones here.
This is an irrational belief that someone is being followed, tracked, or somehow targeted. Here’s an example of such delusion, “I know am being tracked and someone is stalking my house!” This tells us that the person is convinced that he/she is being stalked when in reality it is not true. A lot of times patients also believe that they are being drugged or mistreated or stared at.
Ideas of Reference:
This is a belief that some event is uniquely related to the patient. Consider the patient telling you, “ The journalists are directly reporting about me.” What’s happening is that this patient believes that when they watch TV, the people on the channel are actually about them.
This is a belief when a patient believes that he/she can hear an individual’s thoughts. Patients are often heard saying, “I can hear everything you think without you saying a word.”
Delusion of Grandeur
This is another kind of delusion where an individual firmly believes that they have special powers that the common folks don’t possess. For example, a person might say, ”I am the most intelligent person alive. I should be president or the king of the world.” Such a belief will be considered a delusion of grandeur.
Delusions of Guilt
This is also a common type of delusion seen in patients with Schizophrenia where the patient believes to be solely responsible for something. An example of this type of delusion would be, “ I am the one responsible for my mother’s failing health.” When in reality we know that it has got nothing to do with that patient.
Delusion of Persecution or Persecutory Delusions
This is the belief that a person is being followed or harassed by gangs or a group of people. So a patient having persecutory delusions might say, “My classmates are all ganging up against me because I don’t agree with everything they say or believe in, and so they want to hurt me.”
In this type of delusion, a person is convinced that a famous personality or someone with a higher stature is in love with them. A patient experiencing erotomanic delusions may say, “ I am convinced that ‘XYZ’ movie star is totally in love with me!”
A delusion where a person thinks that their body is somehow diseased. Consider a case example of a patient saying, “ My scalp itches, my head is probably infected with incurable lice.” When in fact there is no obvious explanation for their scalp itching and the doctor has ruled out the existence of any lice in their scalp.
Diagnosing Schizophrenia: what should be your first step?
If you happen to notice a loved one experiencing delusions, hallucinations, or facing difficulty in performing basic routine tasks, then the individual must immediately seek medical help. A lot of times due to lack of awareness and sheer ignorance, the patient’s family resort to medical help as their last option. When in fact, a medical professional should be the first person you should consult to understand what’s wrong with the patient. Only after a thorough diagnosis can one conclude if it's schizophrenia or some other mental disorder.
Note: having delusions doesn’t necessarily mean schizophrenia. Some multiple tests and screenings help doctors rule out other causes possible causes of delusion, such as drugs or substance abuse.
Although there’s no cure for schizophrenia, there are effective antipsychotic drugs, therapies, and treatments that do help improve the patient’s condition and prevent psychotic episodes. Leading a life with schizophrenia can be extremely tough. At Cadabams, a patient’s speedy diagnosis is our primary aim. Over the last 20 years, our team of doctors and psychiatrists has treated some of the most complex cases of schizophrenia. Apart from correct diagnosis, medications, and therapies, our hospital and rehab centers are fully equipped to admit patients where they can receive intensive care and treatment.