Delusions: A Common Symptom of Substance Abuse

Delusions: A Common Symptom of Substance Abuse

What is a Delusion?

At Barn Life Recovery, we treat individuals with a wide range of mental health issues. One type is delusional disorder. Though delusional disorder is generally rare on its own, it can often be a symptom of certain types of substance abuse. This brings us to the question, “What is a delusion?” A delusion is a conviction to a belief which can persist in the presence of irrefutable evidence to the contrary. For example, it can manifest as a defense mechanism in order to cope with intense and uncomfortable situations. In fact, a delusion may protect an individual from harm initially, such as delusional thinking in an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, it will also support and maintain the maladaptive behavior. An individual can create delusions to maintain substance use without facing the responsibility imposed by negative consequences. Delusions can maintain dysfunctional family homeostasis in addition to manifesting and exacerbating codependency.

How Does Barn Life Recovery Assist These Individuals?

We must empathize with those that have manifested delusions as a way to cope. We must also assist clients with raising awareness about those delusions and discovering how they maintained unhealthy behaviors. Let us empower clients to break these chains and develop the courage to make decisions from truth and integrity.

There are several subtypes of delusional disorders and some of these include:

Persecutory Delusions

According to the DSM-IV-TR, these are the most common form of delusions in schizophrenia, where the person believes they are “being tormented, followed, sabotaged, tricked, spied on, or ridiculed

Paranoid Delusion 

This is the fixed, false belief that one is being harmed or persecuted by a particular person or group of people. Paranoid delusions are known technically as a “persecutory delusion.”

Delusional Jealousy

This usually develops due to a fear that a spouse or partner is being unfaithful. While these doubts are baseless, they can cause severe damage to the relationship. The sufferer usually goes to great lengths to try and find evidence of their partner’s alleged “affairs” and may also resort to a third party such as a private detective to find such evidence. Studies show that this form of delusion is more common in men than in women. Morbid jealousy and pathological jealousy are also common names for this.

Erotomania or Delusion of Love

In this type, the patient is often firmly convinced that a person he or she is fixated upon is in love with them. This obsession leads to stalking, unnatural jealousy and rage when the object of their affection is seen with their spouse or partners. Additionally, erotomania often concerns a famous person or someone who is in a superior status and usually there is no contact between the patient and the victim, who has never encouraged the patient. De Clerambault’s Syndrome is another name for erotomaniac delusional disorder.

Somatic Delusional Disorder

In this disorder, a person believes wholeheartedly that something is wrong with them. This type of delusion may often lead to multiple consultations with physicians, surgical procedures, depression and even suicide. Some individuals may also develop tactile hallucinations and feel the sensation of insects or parasites crawling over their skin. Professionals call this monosymptomatic hypochondriacal psychosis and it forms part of somatic delusional disorder.

Induced Delusional Disorder or Folie à Deux

This is a rare disorder where two people, who are usually in a close relationship, completely isolate from others physically and culturally and share the same delusional system of grandeur or persecution. For example, one of the partners may be the dominant personality who influences the weaker personality into adopting the delusion, in which case the psychosis mainly affects the dominant person with the other rapidly recovering once they separate from the primary. 

Delusions of Grandeur 

Someone might, for example, believe they are destined to be the leader of the world despite having no leadership experience and difficulties in interpersonal relationships. Persistence characterizes delusions of grandeur. They are not just moments of fantasy or hopes for the future. It is important to differentiate between delusions of grandeur and simple hopes for the future.

Symptoms of Delusion of Grandeur

The incubations of delusions of grandeur vary greatly in their content, but they are similar to one another in that they involve the persistent belief in one’s own grandiosity. 

Here are a few common examples of delusions of grandeur:

  • The belief that one has a special relationship with a supernatural entity. Cult leaders, for example, might believe they can communicate with a god or that they are a manifestation of a god on earth.
  • The belief that one has a special relationship with a famous person or authority figure, such as the president.
  • The belief that one has a unique destiny. These destinies often involve power, fame, fortune, or supernatural concepts.
Qi: The Pulse of the Cosmos

Qi: The Pulse of the Cosmos

The Vital Force Within Us All

Now that our previous blogs have introduced you to the Five Elements and the idea of yin and yang, it’s time to get acquainted with another fundamental concept of ancient Chinese philosophy: Qi. Qi is the pulse of the cosmos. It is the vital force within us all. Picture a bellows. A bellows is a material thing made of wood and metal. We use them to blow air onto a fire in order to stoke the flames. However, a bellows is useless until we force through it. Likewise, we are an empty vessel until the breath of life is blown through us. Most simply put, qi is another way of saying energy. But it is more than just energy. In the Chinese tradition, matter is also a component of qi. Chinese sages did not distinguish between matter and energy. To them, these phenomena are one in the same.

Matter into Energy and Back

Let’s analyze this idea a little more deeply. Matter is constantly transforming into energy (burning of fossil fuels) and energy is constantly turning into matter (the creation of life). Thoughts are energetic. So are emotions. We cannot dissect thoughts and emotions, put them under a microscope or hold them in our hands. Does this mean they do not exist? Quite the opposite, thoughts and emotions can be frighteningly real. They are felt deeply. Their existence is obvious to anyone with a central nervous system and a brain. To go a step further, as Franz Kafka put it so poignantly:

 “By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently focused our attention upon.” 

Kafka understands that thoughts become emotions and emotions create behaviors and behaviors create actions and action creates reaction. Added together, the quality of our thoughts determines the quality of our life and the quality of our character. The intangible is the mother of the tangible…and vice versa.

Einstein’s Theory

If you’re uncomfortable looking at this from an emotional point of view, not to worry. A more scientific perspective may resonate with Albert Einstein’s most famous equation:

E=MC²

E stands for energy (the unseen force). M stands for mass (a tangible, measurable piece of matter). C stands for the speed of light. The little 2 means squared or multiplied by itself. So, energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. This means that Einstein proved that energy and matter are two aspects of the same thing. Matter can turn into energy and energy can turn into matter.

Back to the Beginning

Whether you prefer a more objective or a more subjective approach, eventually you’re led to a perplexing question: where does all this qi come from? It comes from nowhere – it just is! It is matter on the verge of becoming energy and energy on the verge of becoming matter. The Chinese character for qi looks like this: 氣. In fact, this character is really two ideograms (an idea expressed in writing) put together. The small character on the bottom left that looks like an asterisk means fire 米. The rest of the character 气 means a kettle of rice or water. So, in earliest of times, this symbol for qi was the energy or steam that is produced when fire and water is combined. By taking two seemingly polar opposites and bringing them together, energy is produced.

Tying It All Together

It’s now time to fold qi back into yin, yang, and the elements and see how it affects our day-to-day lives. Fire is thought of as yang and water is thought of as yin. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are thought to house these polar energies of fire and water and the union of these opposites gives rise to our vital energy, namely qi. Too much yang, fire, heat, activity and our system burns too hot depleting our water and causing stress and anxiety. Too much yin, water, cold and inactivity and our system runs too frigid causing depression, fatigue and low sex drive. On a grander scale, our physical bodies are fire, consuming and burning resources. We take in food and literally cook it inside ourselves. This is why we incorporate the cooling qualities of yin or water. It keeps the furnace burning at a reasonable temperature.

Life Skills: Our Building Blocks

Life Skills: Our Building Blocks

Some Unvarnished Truth

Nothing about what you are about to read is exciting.  Life skills are not glamorous.  However, they are the basic square root of all else that we do.  By failing to grasp basic life skills, larger and more complicated tasks become unmanageable and unnecessarily complex.  Life skills are our building blocks. Can you balance a checkbook?  Can you open a bank account?  Are you on time for your appointments?  Can people depend on you?  Do you keep your word?  Are you able to feed yourself?  Can you cook?  Who decides for you when enough is enough?  Did you get dressed today, or wander into the world in your pajamas still?  What does that communicate?

The Basics

Life skills are diverse and all over the map.  Basic ones seem to elude many of us the most.  Think about this.  You are in an interview situation and you stand up suddenly and walk out of the room.  In your mind, you have to go to the bathroom.  However, the interviewer would be perplexed and offended that you just walked out.  It sends the wrong message regardless of what your true intention was.  Life skill: let people know, communicate.

Punctuality is an important life skill.

Making your words mean something.

Being truthful and impeccable.

Honoring the perspectives of others.

Establishing personal boundaries and limits.

Personal discipline.

The last two are vital.  If you have no idea what your limits are, you are lost.  If you fail to discipline your actions and words, society will do it for you, in the form of prison, mental institutions, the military, or poverty.  It is only through personal and chosen discipline that we find freedom and spontaneity!  Imposed discipline manifests as tyranny and slavery.

Life skills are very much like tactics in chess.  You do not need a master plan if you are tactically sound.  Being tactically sound means practicing basic life skills.  Let’s try to work towards cultivating life skills this week.