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An Introduction to Delusional Disorders

written by: alexisaiger • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 10/23/2010

A person suffering from a delusional disorder has delusions that are not outside the realm of possibility and that often center around a theme. These themes represent subtypes of delusional disorders, which include persecutory, jealous, erotomatic, somatic, grandiose and mixed type.

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    Delusional Disorders

    If an individual suffers from non-bizarre delusions (delusions that are not outside the realm of possibility) for at least one month they may be suffering from a delusional disorder. To be diagnosed with a delusional disorder, the delusions cannot be accounted for with another diagnosis such as schizophrenia or substance abuse and, apart from the delusions, the person must function relatively well in daily life. Various subtypes of delusional disorders exist, depending on the theme that the individual's delusions center around.

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    Persecutory Type

    According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to persecute means "to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve, or afflict." Delusional disorder persecutory type relates well to the definition offered. Someone suffering from this type of delusional disorder feels that they, or someone close to them, is being treated poorly or unfairly. They believe the treatment is occurring specifically to hurt them or because the person treating them poorly hates them and wishes them ill. As with the other types of delusional disorders, even if the individual knows this claim to be false intellectually, they continue to have the persecutory delusions.

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    Jealous Type

    Jealousy is an emotion that many of us feel at one time or another. To be jealous in a romantic relationship is to suspect unfaithfulness. True to the emotion of jealousy, someone who has the jealous type delusional disorder believes that their significant other is being unfaithful. Even if they knows this belief to be untrue through fact checking or other means, they continue to suffer from delusions of their partner being unfaithful.

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    Erotomatic Type

    Someone suffering from the erotomatic type delusional disorder believes someone of high status is in love with them. They may rationalize why this high-status figure has not yet approached them or why the relationship has not yet begun. This type of delusional disorder may lead to stalking or harassment of the high-status individual, as the person suffering from this disorder believes the attention is desired by that figure.

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    Somatic Type

    The word somatic refers or relates to the physical body. Someone suffering from the somatic type delusional disorder has delusions centering around a physical defect or medical illness. Even after confirming that the supposed illness or defect is false by medical tests and checkups, the person continues to believe they are ill. The individual may attempt to rationalize why the tests have come back negative and may continually seek medical attention that is, in reality, unnecessary.

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    Grandiose Type

    The grandiose type delusional disorder refers to an inflated sense of self. A person suffering from this type of delusional disorder may believe they possess great wealth, power, social status, talent, beauty or knowledge. They may believe they have millions of dollars, that they are related to someone famous or believe that they control the country. An individual with grandiose type delusional disorder may try to logically explain the delusions, rationalizing how they have such money, power and status although they do not appear to.

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    Mixed Type

    The mixed type delusional disorder combines two or more of the other types of delusional disorders. Someone suffering from this type may, for example, have an inflated sense of self--grandiose--while also believing that others are purposefully treating them poorly--persecutory. Though more than one theme is displayed in the delusions, no one theme is more apparent than another.