Delusions are spontaneously occurring false beliefs held with strong conviction regardless of evidence to the contrary, rational argument, or how much the belief seemingly contradicts the individual's prior understanding of the world.
In the context of psychoactive substances, many hallucinogens can induce temporary delusions as perspectives which one may slip into during high dosage experiences. They are most likely to occur during states of memory suppression and share common themes and elements with clinical schizophrenia. In most cases, these substance induced delusions can be broken out of when overwhelming evidence is provided to the contrary or when the person has sobered up enough to logically analyse the situation. It is exceedingly rare for hallucinogen induced delusions to persist into sobriety.
All delusions can be categorized by whether or not they are bizarre and whether or not they are mood-congruent.
- Bizarre delusion: A delusion that is characteristically absurd and completely implausible. An example of a bizarre delusion could be the belief that aliens have removed the delusional person's brain.
- Non-bizarre delusion: A delusion that, though false, is at least theoretically plausible. An example of this could be the belief that the delusional person is currently under police surveillance.
- Mood-congruent delusion: A delusion with content consistent with either a depressive or manic state. For example, a depressed person may believe that a news anchors on television highly disapproves of them as a person or that the world is ending. However, a manic person might believe that they are a powerful deity, that they have special talents, a special higher purpose, or are a famous person.
- Mood-neutral delusion: A delusion that does not relate to the sufferer's emotional state. For example, a belief that an extra limb is growing out of the back of one's head would likely be neutral to a persons depression or mania.
In addition to these categories, delusions can be classified by their thematic content. Although delusions can have any theme, certain underlying themes are commonly found amongst different people. Some of the more common delusional themes which are induced by psychoactive substances are described and documented below:
Delusion of reference
Delusions of reference are perhaps the most common type of delusion. This delusion typically entails the falsely held belief that an insignificant remark, event, coincidence, or object in one's environment is either a reaction to the individual or has significant personal meaning relating directly back to the person's life. In psychiatry, delusions of reference form part of the diagnostic criteria for illnesses such as schizophrenia, delusional disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder. To a lesser extent, they can also be a symptom of paranoid personality disorder. They can also be caused by intoxication, especially with hallucinogens or during stimulant psychosis.
A list of common examples of this type of delusion and described and documented below:
- Believing that everyone on a passing bus is talking about them
- Believing that people on television or radio are talking about or talking directly to them
- Believing that headlines or stories in newspapers are written especially for them
- Believing that events (even world events) have been deliberately contrived for them, or have special personal significance for them
- Believing that the lyrics of a song are specifically about them
- Believing that the normal function of cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices are sending secret and significant messages that only they can understand or believe.
- Believing that objects or events are being set up deliberately to convey a special or particular meaning to themselves
- Believing that the slightest careless movement on the part of another person has a significant and deliberate meaning
- Believing that posts on social network websites or Internet blogs have hidden meanings pertaining to them.
Delusion of sobriety
A delusion of sobriety typically entails the falsely held belief that one is perfectly sober despite obvious evidence to the contrary such as severe cognitive impairment, significant motor control loss and an inability to fully communicate with others.
Delusions of sobriety are the most common type of delusion experienced under the influence of GABAergic compounds such as alcohol and benzodiazepines.
Delusion of transcendence
Delusions of transcendence are commonly experienced under the influence of heavy dosages psychedelic compounds, particularly during states of high level geometry, memory suppression, and internal hallucinations. They typically entail a falsely held belief that one has "transcended into a higher plane of existence" or has discovered the secret to "transcending" and will be able to implement it just as soon as one sobers up. Once this occurs, however, the supposed secret is found to be nonsensical, incorrect, or forgotten.
Delusion of enlightenment
Delusions of enlightenment typically entail the sudden realization the one has suddenly become "enlightened" and has figured out or been shown the answer or meaning to life, the universe and everything. This delusion may be accompanied with euphoria from the belief that one has learned the fundamental truth about life. During the experience, this answer is felt to be incredibly simplistic and self-evident but is immediately forgotten or realized to be nonsensical once the person has sufficiently sobered up.
Delusions of enlightenment are the most common type of delusion under the influence of short acting ego death inducing hallucinogenic compounds such as DMT, nitrous oxide and salvia.
Delusion of death
Delusions of death are the falsely held belief that one is about to die, is currently dying, no longer exists or has already died. This delusion seems to be a result of anxiety caused by misinterpreting the experience of losing one's sense of self during states of high level ego death. As can be predicted, a delusion of being dead or dying is usually very distressing for the person experiencing it.
Delusions of death are commonly experienced under the influence of heavy dosages psychedelic and dissociative compounds.
Delusion of guilt
Delusions of guilt are caused by ungrounded and intense feelings of remorse or guilt that lead one to conclude that one must have committed some sort of unethical act. The supposed unethical act can range from something relatively mild such as the belief that one has cheated on their partner or it can be something much more serious such as the belief that one has murdered their friends and family.
Delusions of guilt are commonly experienced under the influence of heavy dosages psychedelic and dissociative compounds.
Delusion of reality
Delusions of reality are the unfounded belief that something fictional such as the plot of a tv-show, film, videogame, or book is a real life event. This delusion may manifest as the perception that the fictional events are genuinely occurring in one's immediate vicinity, or simply that the media being portrayed is real. For example, one may have the sensation that fictional media is occuring around them, or may believe they are watching on a screen events occuring in real life, but elsewhere. This delusion seems to be a result of high level immersion enhancement combining with memory suppression to create a state of mind in which somebody is highly engrossed in media while no longer having a functional long term memory that can recall the difference between reality and fiction.
Delusions of reality are commonly experienced under the influence of heavy dosages of dissociative and occassionally psychedelic compounds.
Delusion of unreality
Delusions of unreality are the unfounded belief that one is currently inside of a videogame, dream, or movie and therefore that one's current actions will not have any real life consequences. Depending on the person, this delusion can sometimes result in committing crimes or violent acts. It seems to be a result of intense derealization combined with disinhibition and memory suppression to create an altered state of mind in which somebody mistakes reality for a fictional hallucination.
Delusions of unreality are commonly experienced under the influence of heavy dosages hallucinogens and occassionally during stimulant psychosis.
Delusion of grandiosity
Delusions of grandiosity are the unfounded belief that oneself or another person is or has become god-like, immortal, a visionary genius, or celebrity. They are rarely experienced under the influence of heavy dosages of psychedelic compounds and occasionally during stimulant psychosis.
The delusion of having become godlike is seemingly a result of high level ego inflation and mania. The opposite experience of when a person thinks that a person or the people around them have become godlike while they have not is commonly the result of those people being more sober than the delusional person. This causes the delusional person to misinterpret that the other person/people are somehow more capable than a normal human being, when in fact it is just the delusional person who has become less capable due to cognitive suppressions such as memory suppression.
Compounds which may cause this effect commonly include:
1P-ETH-LAD, 1P-LSD, 2-FA, 2-FMA, 2C-B, 2C-P, 2C-T-2, 2C-T-7, 3-HO-PCE, 3-HO-PCP, 3-MeO-PCE, 3-MeO-PCP, 4-AcO-DET, 4-AcO-DMT, 4-AcO-MET, 4-AcO-MiPT, 4-FMA, 4-HO-DPT, 4-HO-DiPT, 4-HO-EPT, 4-HO-MET, 4-HO-MPT, 5-MeO-DMT, 5-MeO-DiPT, A-PHP, AL-LAD, ALD-52, Alcohol, Allylescaline, Alprazolam, Ayahuasca, Benzydamine, Bufotenin, Carisoprodol, Clonazepam, Clonazolam, DET, DMT, DOI, Datura, Deschloroetizolam, Desoxypipradrol, Dextromethorphan, Dextromethorphan & Diphenhydramine, Diazepam, Diphenhydramine, Escaline, Flubromazolam, Ibogaine, LSA, LSD, LSZ, Lorazepam, MDPV, MPT, Mescaline, Methallylescaline, Metizolam, PCE, PCP, Pentobarbital, Phenobarbital, Prolintane, Proscaline, Psilocin, Psilocybin mushroom, Salvinorin A, Secobarbital, Temazepam, Zolpidem, Zopiclone, Βk-2C-B
- Memory suppression
Documentation written by Josie Kins