Does Someone You Know Have Delusional Disorder?
This is a very interesting disorder. It causes individuals who have Delusional Disorder (DD) great distress. Frequently the people in their support system are distraught because they are not sure how they can help. In this case, there is usually one strongly held delusion (e.g., infestation of insects). Other than that, the individual would not normally stand out as unusual. The delusion is always “nonbizarre”-they are within the realm of possibility, yet incorrect. If you heard people with DD discuss their delusions, they might sound very reasonable and you might believe them.
“I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.” Garrison Keillor
They may experience tactile or olfactory hallucinations. Their hallucinations would be associated with the delusion. For example, if an individual believed he had an infestation of insects, he might also feel “things” crawling on his skin. Depending on the delusion, there may be some impairment of functioning socially and/or vocationally, or there may be extensive disruption of his life.
John, a 30-year-old male, believed the IRS was following him everywhere he went and trying to make his life miserable. He was married and had worked six years as a dockworker. John was so earnest and convincing that I almost believed him. Other than his delusion and the resulting anxiety, he was functioning quite well. I was able to work with him on controlling his anxiety. However, he was unwilling to consider the possibility, no matter how compelling the evidence, that his persecution by the IRS was a delusion.
Note: All identifying information on my client “John” was changed to protect his/her confidentiality.
There are six common subtypes:
In this subtype. subjects believe that another person (usually someone famous or on a higher status) is in love with them. In some instances they have never met the object of their delusion. They often go to great lengths to contact their “beloved,” and this can create problems with the criminal justice system.
In this subtype, subjects believe they are special in some way. For example, they may believe they have unusual talent, ability, insight. are more important than they actually are, or have a special relationship with an important person (e.g., Bill Clinton, Aretha Franklin, Billy Graham).
These individuals believe that their significant others are being unfaithful. This belief is based on frivolous evidence (e.g., spouse is a little late coming home, disarrayed sheets). The spouse is generally confronted with the “evidence”. They then try to limit and control the spouse’s freedom. They will not listen to reasonable explanations.
This is a belief by individuals that they are, in some way, being persecuted by someone or something. They frequently seek to remedy the situation through the court system. These individuals are often angry and resentful. You will note that my client John’s delusion belongs to this subtype (or the IRS was actually persecuting him-stranger things have happened).
In this subtype, individuals believe there is a problem with their bodies. This may be a foul odor, an infestation of insects or parasites; parts of the body are not functioning or are misshapen and ugly.
Mixed Type or Unspecified Type
The delusion cannot be determined or it does not fit one of the subtypes.
The most common subtype is Persecutory. Delusional disorder is relatively rare, occurring in only about 0.03% of the general population. The onset is usually midlife or later.
Do you or someone you know suffer from delusions? Find out with this test!
Delusional disorder is relatively rare, occurring in only about 0.03% of the general population. The onset is usually midlife or later.
These are the personality and belief patterns one can expect to see in a person with Delusional Disorder. Mark each “True” or “False” depending on whether the person exhibits that characteristic or not.
Do You Know Someone Delusional?
© 2016, Dr. Dorothy McCoy. All rights reserved.