A delusion means holding an unshakeable belief that other people would regard as groundless. For example, the delusion could be the belief that a person believes that they are closely related to the Queen, although they share no relatives. The person may be quite troubled by any apparent contradictions.
In order to qualify as a delusion, many people would argue that the belief has to be quite out of keeping with the person’s culture and family background. So, if someone believes in curses and comes from a background that accepts witchcraft as a fact of life, their belief should not be regarded as a delusion. However, not all medical professionals would agree with this distinction.
Some delusional ideas can be extremely frightening; for example, someone might believe that other beings are placing thoughts in their head, or trying to control or kill them. These ideas are called paranoid delusions. The person may feel quite powerless in their grip. They may start avoiding certain situations or try to protect themselves in some way. They may believe they deserve to be punished or feel very angry and resentful. Sometimes, people also have delusions of grandeur, thinking they are very rich and powerful, perhaps controlling the stock markets or even the weather. This could be a way of coping with feelings of low self-esteem and powerlessness.
Someone in a psychotic crisis may not feel they can trust, understand or relate to other points of view. They may not accept that other people find their beliefs strange. They may see links between ideas that others do not because these links are so personal. After a crisis has passed, people may begin to question their own experiences. It may gradually become clear that there is a meaningful connection to explore between their personal history and the delusional idea or what the voices say.