Delirium 101

Delirium is a term that has its origin in the Latin word delirium. This notion is used to name an alteration of the mind that leads a person to hallucinate and have incoherent thoughts.

By extension, the manifestation of this type of thoughts in words, actions, etc. is known as delirium. For example: “What you said is delusional: how am I going to quit my job if I need the money?” , “Jumping in a parachute at the age of 90 is a delusion”, “The film seemed like a delirium to me: the characters changed their names in each scene”.

For psychology, delirium is a symptom of a psychotic disorder in which the individual believes things that are not part of reality. It is not a question of a misinterpretation, handling false information or a temporary mistake: delirium is pathological and is caused by a disease.

A delusion, therefore, is a belief that is held and defended without logic, cannot be tested through experience, and is culturally inappropriate . The subject reveals an abnormal thought (out of the ordinary and what is expected) to defend his idea even when, from reason, it is shown to be false or inconvenient.

In everyday language, the concept of delirium is used to name a project or a wish of a person that cannot be fulfilled in reality or that, at least, will be very difficult to carry out. If a fifty-year-old man who has never been a professional athlete says that his dream is to play alongside Lionel Messi at FC Barcelona, ​​his family and friends will be able to say that his goal is a “delusion”.

Paranoid delusion

Paranoid delusions, which should not be confused with paranoid schizophrenia, are often based on the personality, although the reverse is not always the case: the delusion is not necessarily a result of the paranoid personality, but arises from a psycho-affective conflict.

Reality is overwhelmed by a series of meanings that, little by little, become part of the delusion; although the perception of the exterior is correct, its representation is affected, so that subjectivity outweighs objectivity.

It is important to point out that individuals who suffer from paranoid delusion create their own justifications for their interpretation of the world around them, for which they are able to explain it through logic and make it appear plausible. It is a solid system, made up of a series of well-established ideas that are organized and enriched as the disorder progresses.

Some of the most well-known types of paranoid delusion are the following:

* of persecution: it is the most common. Those who suffer tend to interpret and explain everything that happens to them, stating that everything revolves around the persecution of which they are victims. They convince themselves that they are constantly threatened by people who envy and wish them harm, and very often they do not make significant progress in life because of these supposed obstacles;

* of hypochondriac: belongs to the delirium of vindication. The subject always claims to suffer from some disorder or illness, before which he constantly seeks medical assistance, without achieving the success he hopes for, and this leads to repeated claims;

* Jealousy: Jealousy prevents the subject from enjoying a love relationship, since there is the constant idea that the other person is unfaithful, or wants to be. It is common for them to decide to investigate their partners, either directly or indirectly, and the feeling of being deceived grows until it becomes untenable for both parties.


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