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Delusional disorder (paranoid psychosis): causes and symptoms

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The Delusional disorder, also known as Paranoid Psychosis, is a psychotic disorder. This disorder manifests itself with the presence of delusional ideations and thoughts, disconnected with reality, and without the presence of other underlying psychopathology.

  • Recommended article: "The 8 types of psychotic disorders"

Delusional Disorder: What is it?

But, What are the signs and signs that we can see in a person suffering from Delusional Disorder? The diagnosis of this disorder must be made by a mental health professional, and will be guided by several diagnostic criteria:

  • Delusions must be presented for more than a month
  • The picture of delusions should not be the product of the abuse of toxic substances, drugs or other pathologies

Symptoms and signs

How do people with Delusional Disorder behave? The picture of paranoid psychosis It usually manifests itself in that people who suffer from it are totally convinced of things that are not real. For example, they may believe that they are famous athletes or successful singers, and from there they can imagine that people chases and harasses them on the street, or having paranoia thinking that there are people who want to harm them in some way.

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This psychiatric affectation is usually included within the group of psychopathologies in which a single delusional idea is manifested, or a series of delusional ideas closely related to each other and that remain over time, being difficult to treat and persisting, on many occasions, until the end of the individual's life affected.

What kind of delusions do these people suffer from?

Exactly what goes through the minds of these people? Delusions can vary greatly from one subject to another. These are usually paranoid thoughts related to delusions of grandeur, hypochondria, or persecution and harassment.

In other cases, Delusional Disorder can manifest itself with recurring thoughts and no real basis about infidelity of the couple sentimental, or the belief that others think the subject is homosexual, for example.


Delusional Disorder can debut at any time in life. In cases where delirium refers to deformities of any part of the body, it usually appears in early adulthood.

The content of the delusional thoughts and the age of onset of the same can save a quite direct link with some experiences and experiences that can affect their stability psychological. It has been described that, on occasions, paranoid ideas of persecution are more frequent in individuals belonging to historically disadvantaged ethnic minorities. Beyond the behaviors and attitudes related to delusional ideation, these patients do not usually have any affectation in their empathy, in their communication skills or in general in any other important aspect.

Characteristics of Paranoid Psychosis

As we have commented, people who suffer from Delusional Disorder have recurring and unrealistic ideas, thoughts and beliefs. Despite this, sometimes these delusions do not directly affect their daily routine.

  • In most cases, work and social life may not be negatively influenced by the psychopathological picture, unless the delusions appear in those contexts. However, it is noteworthy that patients with this disorder usually present an irascible and, in some extremes, aggressive mood.
  • Regarding their way of being, they tend to be reserved and elusive, and do not speak openly about their affectation.
  • They may present disjointed ideas, but to them all their thought patterns seem logical and grounded.

Most common types of delusions

Mental health professionals describe up to four large groups of delusions according to their main characteristics. They are the ones we describe below.

1. Persecutory delusions

It is the most common type of delusion. The person who suffers it he lives thinking that he is the victim of a conspiracy, and that he is spied on and followed on the street, constantly.

2. Delusions of grandeur

This kind of delusion causes the affected person to be convinced that they are someone important, a celebrity. For example, they may think that they are exceptionally talented or that they were renowned athletes, singers, or thinkers in their past.

3. Somatic delusions

It is a group of delusions that affect the perception of one's own body. The most common are: the belief that they smell bad, thinking that a part of the body grows uncontrollably, and so on.

4. Erotomanic delusions

Is about the unreal and long-held belief that someone loves them madly. It is more frequent in women, and they believe they receive letters, hidden messages or signals from their "lover" than he is usually an important person for her (a teacher, a famous footballer, a singer, an actor…). They can even get in touch with the man they think of through phone calls, messages, gifts, and letter correspondence.

5. Jealous-type delusions

They repeatedly think that their romantic partner is with other people. This belief that your partner is unfaithful is based on wrong assumptions based on delusion. It can pose a danger since this belief, in some cases, motivates physical attacks.

Treatments and therapies

We have talked about the characteristics of Delusional Disorder, but: Is it possible that these people are cured, or at least improve their psychological normality?

There are a series of psychological treatments that help control symptoms, reducing their impact and recurrence and achieving that the patient can think and structure his perception of reality in a way that is not pathological.

The clinical psychologist can greatly contribute to the recovery of the person affected by Delusional Disorder. Through therapeutic sessions, and progressively, the psychologist can guide the patient to explain her thoughts and delusions, explore these contents and emotions and slowly get to identify the errors in his thought patterns.

One of the most accepted therapeutic currents is the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, which focuses on achieving changes in delusional beliefs and their psychological, emotional and behavioral effects. It is a good idea to encourage people who suffer from this disorder to go to a trusted psychologist or psychiatrist, who can guide and guide them to significantly improve their quality of life.

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