What Are the Different Types of Delusions?

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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2019
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Delusions are false beliefs an individual believes to be true. Despite one’s personal and familial history, there is no concrete basis for his or her delusions. There are several types of delusions, from persecutory, which is the belief one is being conspired against by another individual or group, to grandiose, characterized by an unrealistic exaggeration of one’s self-importance. Other types of delusions are based on physical or mental functions or religious beliefs. It is important to understand that for someone with delusional disorder, there is absolutely no question as to the validity of his or her belief; it is steadfast truth.

Individuals who hold the belief that they are being stalked or targeted by others are said to have persecutory delusions. It is not uncommon for persecutory delusions to be episodic, meaning the individual does not feel constantly threatened. Situations can arise where the person may feel he or she is being watched by others and act on that feeling. In some cases, one’s persecutory delusions are combined with other types of delusions, making the situation more complex. One of the most common forms of persecutory delusion is a fear of authority or one’s government.


Erotomania is a delusional disorder where a person truly believes a well-known or famous individual has feelings for him or her. People with erotomania will try to initiate contact with the person so they may share their feelings with them. John Hinkley Jr.’s obsession with Jodie Foster is a prime example of erotomania. In the 1980s, Hinkley stalked Foster through letters and phone calls and viewed his assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan as an act of love that would win Foster’s affection.

Delusions of reference involve falsely held beliefs in the importance of things of insignificant value. For instance, a person with delusions of reference may believe their favorite radio personality is sending messages exclusively intended for him or her over the airwaves. The tone and meaning of the message can vary depending on the individual. Frequently, individuals with delusions of reference will hold other delusions simultaneously, such as persecutory or grandiose, which can make the situation all the more complex.

There are some types of delusions based on the mental and physical functions of the body. Mind reading and somatic delusions fall into this category. Individuals can develop a falsely held belief that their mind is being invaded by friends, family or strangers. The person feels his or her thoughts are not private, which he or she views as an ultimate violation. When one’s delusional focus centers on his or her body, the person may think he or she is sick, infectious or exhibiting physical traits that make him or her stand out from everyone else.

Grandiose and religious types of delusions often go hand in hand. A person may hold exaggerated notions about his or her ability, influence or lineage. When religion enters the picture, the person may exhibit tremendous guilt over what he or she perceives to be sins he or she has committed against God or believe he or she has been chosen by the Creator as an intended messenger. Religious and grandiose types of delusions are often exhibited by individuals with schizophrenia. In a similar vein, nihilistic delusions involve an exaggerated, yet firmly held, belief the End of Days is occurring.

Delusions of jealousy involve one’s falsely held belief that there are issues of infidelity within his or her marriage or relationship with a significant other. A person with a delusion of jealousy will often read meaning into innocuous situations or objects to make his or her case. One’s jealously is often pervasive, meaning the person sees evidence of the other’s dishonesty in every action, conversation and interaction with those outside the relationship.


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Post 4

I have had all of these but I'm bipolar supposedly. At the moment, I think people can hear my thoughts and are thinking bad stuff about me, like trying to kill me. Not good.

Post 3

Sexual delusions (erotomania) are common too. Quite a few celebrities have been victims and targets of these delusions. I guess it's easy for people to create delusions about celebrities because they are in the public eye and there is always news getting published about them.

Someone with sexual delusions may think that the celebrity is sending him or her secret messages through public interviews. Even a glance or a gesture can make the person believe that the celebrity is reciprocating. People experiencing these delusions won't see or accept signs indicating the opposite.

For example if this person actually meets the celebrity and the celebrity ignores him, then he will come up with an explanation for why the celebrity did so. For example, he may think that their love needs to be hidden and so the celebrity was forced to behave that way in front of the media.

Post 2

@donasmrs-- Persecutory delusions are the most common, followed by grandiose delusions.

Although I'm not expert, based on what I've read, persecutory delusions seem to go hand in hand with paranoia and they're both common in individuals suffering from schizophrenia. The person may believe that people are conspiring against him or her and are constantly watching or listening. These beliefs can cause the person to act erratically, especially if there are also hallucinations supporting these fears.

It's very difficult to treat persecutory delusions because the one suffering from it believes in the delusions beyond a doubt. So it's very difficult to prove that they are wrong.

Post 1

Which type of delusion is the most common?

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