Have you ever accused someone of being delusional? Or, since many of you are writers (and I believe this sometimes goes with the territory)—have you ever been accused of being delusional?
Yeah. I hear that a lot. Oh, wait. I meant I hear it on television. Or I’ve read it. People don’t actually say that to me.
Not to my face, at least.
So, do you know what being delusional actually means?
A delusion, according to the DSM-IV-TR, is a false belief that:
1. Is based on an incorrect interpretation of reality
2. Persists despite evidence to the contrary
3. Is not ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture (for you atheists out there, this is why people of faith are not considered delusional on that basis alone)
You can’t talk a truly delusional person out of his/her delusion. Probably best not to try. In fact, I’m telling you: Don’t do it.
Delusions are either:
Nonbizarre—these are beliefs based on things that could *technically* happen, like a belief your significant other is cheating on you, your best friend is secretly a government agent, you've been infected with a flesh-eating disease, etc.
Bizarre—these are beliefs that stray far from the realm of plausibility within one’s culture, like thinking aliens break into your room every night and remove your memories one-by-one by inserting a pipe cleaner into your left nostril.
[Oh, there’s another way to distinguish delusions—mood-congruent vs. mood-incongruent, but I’ll get into that when I discuss MANIA! WHOOPEE!]
Ahem, moving on.
Delusions can involve just about anything under the sun, but I summarize a few of the more common themes below.