Coping With Delusions
It would at first appear contradictory to give advice on how to cope with delusions. The argument is that persons with delusions by definition believe their irrational ideas to be both real and true; therefore, they cannot be argued or reasoned out of them. This is correct. Nonetheless, persons with delusions often recognize their borderline and impossible character. Although they will usually resist outside reasoning, they often struggle within themselves against delusions. They psychoanalyst Robert Lindner points that it is incorrect to believe that in every instance persons with delusions are so "far gone" that they do no knowo they are mad. Lindner notes that, for the most part, deranged persons are suffering or because they are made to suffer for it by others.
Also, it should be noted that the severity of delusions waxes and wanes. Persons with schizophrenia often experience a spontaneous remission of symptoms, sometimes for prolonged periods of time. Antipsychotic drugs also bring about a reduction in the severity of symptoms. During periods of increased mental clarity, disturbed individuals are accessible to rational thinking, including their own.
If you suffer from delusions, you may find value in the following list of practical coping strategies:
1. In some cases, delusions have a quality similar to the experiences in a lucid dream. A lucid dream is a dream in which you become aware that you are dreaming. It is then possible to break out of the dream or control it. This often happens with delusions. A part of your consciousness whispers,"This can't be real. These ideas are impossible." Under these conditions, it is possible for you to take some control over the delusions.
2. When you are in good reality contact, when your delusions have retreated to the corners of your mind, take advantage of a behaviour therapy technique called stress-inoculation training. Stress-inoculation training involves preparing yourself ahead of time for a stressful situation. Play a mental movie of future situations in which a delusion interferes with your ability to function effectively. Visualize how you will cope in a practical manner, and work around the delusion. Stress-inoculation training can forearm you against your own unbidden delusional tendencies.
3. Make sure that your nutrition is adequate, that you obtain enough protein, carbohydrates, vitamines, and minerals. There is a substantial amount of evidence suggesting that clear thinking is associated with a healthy brain and nervous system. One way to look at the mind is to think of it as the brain and nervous system in action. A healthy mind requires an equally healthy body. To be more specific, certain chemical messengers in the brain (Eg. norepinephrine) are required for rational thought. These are synthesized out of substances provided by food. The B-complex vitamins have been found to be of particular importance.
4. Do not act on the basis of an idea that you think is true and that most other people think is false. Consider that it just might be a delusion. Do not jump from a roof just because you think you can fly. Do not try to live without food just because you think you are immortal and do not need it. Listen to the small voice within you that says,"I might hurt myself. May be other people are right."
5. Avoid the use of psychoactive drugs. These include amphetamines, cocaine, morphine, heroin, cannabis, and lysergic acid diethylamide-25. These drugs interact with a tendency to have delusions and sometimes greatly increase the level of irrational thought.
6. Be aware of the concept of consensual reality, that is, the way a well-defined group (eg. a family, a tribe) sees the world. Although from a strict philosophical point of view one cannot say that the group's perception of reality as a fact, be practical. Work with their reality, not against it, if you want to reduce your level of conflict and suffering.
If a partner, child or other person close to you suffers from delusions, below are coping strategies that may be of some value:
7. Do not challenge a delusion directly. Do not tell the troubled person such things as, "That's silly" or "That's nonsense." Do not discount the delusion and attempt to minimize its importance. Such blunt frontal attacks tend to galvanize resistance and push the individual farther into the delusion.
8. Try to encourage the other person to be as practical as possible in spite of the delusion. Describe the logical consequences of actions. Orient the individual toward reality by pointing out that a given behaviour may lead to imprisonment, bodily injury, or property damage. Working with the assumptions of the delusion, help the person steer clear of its buried dangers.
If you find that you cannot cope adequately with delusions, there are a number of ways in which the professions of psychiatry and clinical psychology can help you.
Labels: Hallucination and Schizophrenia