by Ovidiu Brazdau
The following explanations of ‘delusions’ are provided in the context of inner growth. Still, I would like to mention that these ‘delusional’ configurations may also emerge in other contexts, such as through traumatic events, substance abuse, or brain disorders. Many delusions are rooted in ideas that are not fundamentally ‘wrong’, but problems emerge because these ideas tend to loop in people’s minds and to attract too much psychic energy, narrowing the attention and reducing the contextual overview. If these ideas are detected at an early stage of their development, and then re-arranged in a larger collective perspective, usually they integrate naturally in the self-identity structure.
The schizophrenic believes that he or she is being followed or is under surveillance, or that he or she is being made fun of, tricked, or treated very unfairly by others. When schizophrenics experience this type of delusion, they may feel very frightened or paranoid. As a result, they will often do things to protect themselves from the persecutor(s).
In the inner growth journey, an increased sense of interconnectedness may emerge due to various causes that dissolve or diminish the self-identity boundaries. Some of these causes include the activation of an observer perspective, the opening of the heart, and the resurfacing of a trauma. Smoking ganja, or an extraordinary event, either positive or negative, can also cause this sense of interconnectedness. If they are not accustomed to this type of information, some people may feel that they are under permanent surveillance. They begin to see the connections among all things but they fear this pervasive connectedness.
If the individual has activated ‘the negative’ as a primary filter, due to their fears, they will see ‘the negative’ in the people around them. Using these unconscious filters, the person’s mind could develop imaginary stories or beliefs that other people are persecuting them, as a coping mechanism.
These involve the belief that they have exceptional power, talent or worth, or they are someone famous. They may believe they are God or some other type of deity.
This could occur in the inner growth process, during the symbolic journey (‘explosion of meaning’), or before the first ‘self-identity/ego death’. When the person connects to a specific archetypal energy during the symbolic journey, the cultural stories of that archetype emerge from their memory. For example, if the person reconnects with the feminine or mother archetypes, they could think of the Virgin Mary, if they have a Christian background. They could spontaneously ‘feel the thought’ and feel they are the Virgin Mary. Then, one day later, they may think of the story of Cleopatra, and again fall into this thought, becoming Cleopatra for a few moments.
In these cases, an optimal therapeutic intervention would be to adapt the person’s meaning-making system, phrasing the experience like ‘the Virgin Mary is also in me’ or ‘Cleopatra is also in me’. These characters are cultural shapes and forms of the archetypes, and deeply connecting with them shows that the symbolic journey is ongoing.
Delusion of reference
The person falsely believes that insignificant remarks, events, or objects in one’s environment have personal meaning or significance. For instance, some people may believe that they are receiving special messages from the news anchorperson on television. Usually, the meaning assigned to these events is negative, but the ‘messages’ can also have a grandiose quality.
This view is another result of the newly discovered interconnectedness that is unconsciously processed by the body-mind. From this perspective, we are all one collective organism, and we are all highly interconnected. Everything is in the right place at the right moment, for all of us. This ‘delusion’ is similar to the grandiose delusion mechanism. Indeed, these messages are ‘exactly’ for me. Everything that I experience in my environment is there for me; how else? However, a proper interpretation could be that ‘it is there for me, also’.
In the initial stages of interconnectedness, some people tend to reduce everything to their self-identity, as the self overreacts to defend itself from ‘dissolution’. The more interconnected people feel, the more their self-identity defenses activate, thus narrowing their range of attention. An intervention that may be useful is to work with wide-diffuse attention, as this approach could relax the self-identity grip over the experience. But ‘specialness’ is the main issue that needs a therapeutic intervention, not the idea of ‘receiving messages’ from the collective.
This type of delusion involves the belief that a particular person, usually a celebrity or someone especially important, is romantically or sexually involved with or in love with them.
This is a result of interconnectedness, seen through a relational filter. At our deepest levels, we are all in love with each other, as we are all interconnected humans. Usually, this delusion is due to a projection mechanism, layered over the interconnectedness.
This involves the belief that they have a medical condition or other physical problems or flaws.
This delusion can have multiple sources. When the self-identity begins to fluidify, a somatic delusion may appear as a coping or defense mechanism, ‘fixating’ the attention on the body. This fixation on the body may be the final solution for a self-identity that defends itself against change. Someone I met was so scared of getting cancer that her unconscious processing was locked onto this topic for almost a year. The idea that she might already have cancer, though undetected, led her to frequent medical check-ups and investigations.
Delusion of control
This is a false belief that another person, group of people, or external force controls one’s thoughts, feelings, impulses, or behavior. A person may describe, for instance, the experience that aliens actually make them move in certain ways and that the person affected has no control over the bodily movements. Thought broadcasting (the false belief that the affected person’s thoughts are heard aloud), thought insertion, and thought withdrawal (the belief that an outside force, person, or group of people is removing or extracting a person’s thoughts) are also examples of delusions of control.
This could also happen when the self-identity begins to fluidify, and the person feels (non-consciously) that we are all connected to a ‘hive’ mind. Actually, this is mostly true: we are a collective organism, with a collective cultural ‘mind’. When the self-identity grip relaxes, the body-mind moves according to collective movements and individual programming, received through education. ‘Thought insertion’ is the unconscious recognition that some of our thoughts could develop in our mind because of an empathic connection to someone else or the collective, while having no identifiable source.
A delusion whose theme centers on the nonexistence of self or parts of self, others, or the world. A person with this type of delusion may have the false belief that the world is ending.
Yes, our world will end, but a more appropriate wording is ‘my world’ will end. This idea could be a sign that the self is about to pass through a ‘dark night’. During this challenge, the nonexistence feels as real as possible, and eventually, this could lead to the emergence of non-conceptual facets of the self-identity. As we evolve, the self-identity will be rebuilt many times, with increasingly flexible boundaries, and an increased capacity to allow the ‘void-nature’ of ourselves to participate in the conscious experience.
Delusion of guilt or sin (or delusion of self-accusation)
This is a false feeling of remorse or guilt of delusional intensity. For example, a person may believe that he or she has committed some horrible crime and should be punished severely. Another example is a person who is convinced of his or her responsibility for some disaster (such as fire, flood, or earthquake) with which there can be no possible connection.
This is another effect of an unconscious connection to the global human organism, where personal responsibility is emphasized. A flood, killing hundreds of people, could occur because of my imperfection, even if my contribution is 0.00000001%. The lesson of this challenge is to learn the value of our existence and to do what we can in our individual lives to improve collective harmony.
Delusion of mind being read
The false belief that other people can know one’s thoughts. This is different from thought broadcasting, where the person does not believe that thoughts can be heard aloud.
It could happen that some people can sometimes hear some of our thoughts; spontaneous telepathy just happens. We all have a connection to the collective field; otherwise we would die. However, this is not under our voluntary control, and the idea that people can read one’s thoughts is just an exaggeration of a real fact. Still, even if individual thoughts are being broadcast to the minds of the people with whom we resonate, the evolution of our species is not currently allowing a direct conscious exploration of this complex connectedness.
This challenge can be solved if the individual learns to accept that spontaneous exchanges could occur, and that being transparent and authentic is a better way to live.
Any delusion with a religious or spiritual content. These may be combined with other delusions, such as grandiose delusions (the belief that the affected person was chosen by God, for example), delusions of control, or delusions of guilt. Beliefs that would be considered normal for an individual’s religious or cultural background are not delusions.
Archetypal symbols from religions are very powerful, as they are culturally fed throughout many generations. Suppose a person undergoing inner transformation has a personal or transgenerational religious background. In that case, specific symbols will activate in their minds in various situations, especially when trying to get out of that particular religious framework. For example, if the transformation process has reached ‘the source’ archetype, the person could feel and think that he or she is Jesus, Buddha, or another symbolic source archetype. That is why in hesychasm, they say, ‘Do you see Jesus? Ignore him’.
It describes an underlying disturbance to conscious thought and is classified largely by its effects on speech and writing. Affected persons show loosening of associations, that is, a disconnection and disorganization of the semantic content of speech and writing. In its severe form, speech becomes incomprehensible and is known as ‘word salad’.
First, it’s good to know there is a phenomenon called ‘hyper-priming’, whereby people can easily relate distant groups of concepts, on many levels of abstraction, by conceptual or spatial-visual connections. This is amplified by ganja, and it is the source of many creativity spikes. As a downside, many young adults smoking ganja are not prepared for a fluid association style, and they could reach a point when they lose the coherence.
Second, I have observed that the activation of the witnessing awareness changes something in the way we think, by activating a visual style in some individuals. If a person is unfamiliar with the visual-spatial thinking style, the amount of information involved is so vast that the mind gets blocked, and the only thing to do is to catch up by loosening associations, which can look like a word salad. I would instead consider this delusion a temporary stage, which occurs when people’s thinking evolves from auditory-verbal to visual-spatial thinking. This is why art is a perfect tool to facilitate profound changes in the way we experience inner life.
Sources for delusions description (updated – January, 2022)
* Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (n.d.). Delusions – Functioning, Withdrawal, Examples, Person, People, Brain, Mood, Description. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Br-Del/Delusions.html
* American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.