1 of 2
1
How delusional am I?
Posted: 05 March 2009 10:22 PM   [ Ignore ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

I was wondering if anyone knows of some sort of general test that might be used to measure one’s own delusional state? I know that in psychiatry there are several different tests, i.e., PSYRATS, that are able to generally evaluate the mental capacities of an individual with regard to his rating in the context of human psychosis. But these clinical tests or delusion scales are used primarily in measuring the psychotic severity of the individual.

Is there not some kind of questionaire that might serve to capture a value for any person’s delusional ranking?  I’m fairly certain that we all have some beliefs that are at least slightly delusional (one such personal conviction might be that “I have no delusions whatsoever”). On such a scale, one might wonder, where does the belief in the existence of a certain kind of god place that person on the chart?  For example, is the belief that Zeus exists more delusional than the belief that “the god of Abraham” exists or are they both equally delusional?


Max, I am awaiting my test.

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 March 2009 11:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

I don’t know if any test like that could be developed, at least of psychosis or neurosis is excluded.  I think it would be something like the sociology prof at my university who asked if I was interested in working with him on a test to determine enlightenment (under an assumed name he writes woo woo books).  He had some tentative questions for it, all of which indicated to me that he suffered from a number of new agey type delusions so his preliminary test was revealing in that sense, but that’s about all.  grin

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 March 2009 09:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1453
Joined  2005-01-22

Thanks for that anecdote burt . . . so you are (in a nice way) telling me that I have exposed my delusion for all to see?  I guess I suspected as much, that a test like that would ultimately show that we are all delusional or slightly deranged, and in a sense it would simply confirm common assumptions that the entire human race is partly insane.  In a way that’s a comforting thought, but in another way it’s very disturbing.

Bob

 Signature 

It’s definitely a moon! . . . and now it’s become a sunflower!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 March 2009 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29
CanZen - 06 March 2009 03:22 AM

I was wondering if anyone knows of some sort of general test that might be used to measure one’s own delusional state? I know that in psychiatry there are several different tests, i.e., PSYRATS, that are able to generally evaluate the mental capacities of an individual with regard to his rating in the context of human psychosis. But these clinical tests or delusion scales are used primarily in measuring the psychotic severity of the individual.

Is there not some kind of questionnaire that might serve to capture a value for any person’s delusional ranking?  I’m fairly certain that we all have some beliefs that are at least slightly delusional (one such personal conviction might be that “I have no delusions whatsoever”). On such a scale, one might wonder, where does the belief in the existence of a certain kind of god place that person on the chart?  For example, is the belief that Zeus exists more delusional than the belief that “the god of Abraham” exists or are they both equally delusional?


Max, I am awaiting my test.

Bob

Bob, if you ever come across such a test, please link it for the forum. It would be fun to take apart, assuming that it was flawed. Or you could just design your own test, of course, and get feedback on it here. I suspect that burt’s correct if he’s saying that such a test would probably not be very useful or valid, but it may be worth a try.

A few categories that come to mind for such a test:

Self evaluation/perception. The person being tested would be asked questions relating to how attractive s/he is, how intelligent, how insightful, how funny, how competent a parent - friend - spouse - worker, etc., how honest,  how “decent” in a number of various ways. I think such an evaluation area may actually be testable if handled with thorough enough objectivity and scrutiny. It would probably involve feedback from friends and family of the person being tested, as well as casual observers.

Another category could be understanding how the world works, with questions about where money comes from, how governments are able or unable to function, how poverty, crime and corruption come about (Billy Shears wrote a compelling couple of paragraphs about this a day or two ago), how people maintain health and safety (Big cities may seem unhealthy and dangerous, for instance, but I always felt far safer walking alone in Midtown Manhattan at 2 a.m. than in bright daylight of certain rural areas where I grew up.), the ins and outs of various scientific theories and methods, etc.

Most people, I suspect, have no clue how a toilet works, yet we sort of think we know about these kinds of “simple” things. We’re all delusional in many ways, but of course the word delusion itself would need to be carefully defined for the purposes of the test.

Fascinating subject, and I’ll readily admit to being at least as delusional as most people are.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 March 2009 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  949
Joined  2007-10-08

First let me state that this is simply an idea inspired by Bob’s thread. I have no delusions about implementing it.

Well Bob… since we are, as you said—and I tend to agree—all delusional to varying degrees, perhaps what’s needed, instead of a test determining one’s “delusional ranking” is a way of determining the usefulness of certain delusions.

It seems to me that many of humankind’s delusions are based on belief in the veracity of claims made in “books” left behind by our delusional ancestors and the institutions derived around them. As such, they are no longer useful, for they are riddled with delusions that promote, rationalize and justify tribalism and overall, endanger our existence as a species.

A “useful delusion” would be compatible with with the hippocratic oath: “first do no harm;” within the bounds of criminal law in that it cannot advocate violence or the death of any perceived “other”; no proselytizing or organizing groups around one’s pet delusion; and kept to one’s self—or at least only shared with close family and friends.

*Airy Spirit once expressed a delusion that was useful and helpful to her/him that fit this description. 

That’s all. Everybody pounce.

 Signature 

“Proving the efficacy of a methodology without defining the word ‘efficacy’ can come back to bite you in the assertion.”—Salt Creek

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 March 2009 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1646
Joined  2008-04-02
isocratic infidel - 06 March 2009 06:20 PM

That’s all. Everybody pounce.

Hmmmm

 Signature 

Real honesty is accepting the theories that best explain the actual data even if those explanations contradict our cherished beliefs.-Scotty

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 March 2009 10:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

The question is how to determine the null hypothesis: what would it mean to be completely non-delusional?  My opinion is that the first part of this would be a lack of 100% commitment to any empirical statement whatever.  For example, I could say that I am watching Numbers on TV right now, but there is always the possibility (small though it may be) that this is all hallucination.  This connects back to the ancient Skeptic idea of suspending judgment with regard to all assertions.  Of course, that idea itself could be a delusion. grin 

On another level, it might be useful to have a way of classifying levels or categories where illusions can arise.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29
burt - 07 March 2009 03:13 AM

The question is how to determine the null hypothesis: what would it mean to be completely non-delusional?  My opinion is that the first part of this would be a lack of 100% commitment to any empirical statement whatever.  For example, I could say that I am watching Numbers on TV right now, but there is always the possibility (small though it may be) that this is all hallucination.  This connects back to the ancient Skeptic idea of suspending judgment with regard to all assertions.  Of course, that idea itself could be a delusion. grin 

On another level, it might be useful to have a way of classifying levels or categories where illusions can arise.

As you know, burt, there can be a therapeutic level (or anti-therapeutic, as I.I. alludes to) that can be sought in a psychological test, and also a literal level.

I think some form of a test might be useful for a lot of people, as ignorance, which is something that can’t be avoided, is very different from delusion, which certainly can be avoided though certainly not eliminated entirely. Most people don’t seem to need to get down to atomic levels with many of life’s questions.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 06:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  500
Joined  2005-02-22

Can one be delusional without being spellbound? We seem to be referring to a sustained delusion and not a moment by moment hallucination like the experience of watching a TV show.

I believe a dose of sodium pentathlon (you know- truth serum) will make one delusion free. For a while.

Delusions are as necessary a part of modern life as taxes and TP. Try getting through a day without any at all.

 Signature 

Delude responsibly.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29
Nhoj Morley - 07 March 2009 11:32 AM

. . .
Delusions are as necessary a part of modern life as taxes and TP. Try getting through a day without any at all.

Testing for everyday types of delusional thinking certainly wouldn’t get rid of it, just as mentally ill delusional people don’t experience any sort of healing or amelioration once a test result is in. Awareness of such patterns of thought, however, can lead to self insight.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17

Everyday delusions come and go, and may be vitally important (where would any of us be if our moms had not believed we were the cutest most adorable little monsters they had ever seen?) but it could be valuable to be able to witness them in the flow of daily experience (“Ah, right, that one again…”).  That’s where some sort of general category map comes in handy.  Philosophically, this whole question of delusions opens a real can of worms: how can we best accommodate our language and worldview to reality without making overly many pre-assumptions about how reality actually is, recognizing that anytime we do make an assumption we automatically exclude certain realms of thought from consideration.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29
burt - 07 March 2009 02:39 PM

Everyday delusions come and go, and may be vitally important (where would any of us be if our moms had not believed we were the cutest most adorable little monsters they had ever seen?) but it could be valuable to be able to witness them in the flow of daily experience (“Ah, right, that one again…”).  That’s where some sort of general category map comes in handy.  Philosophically, this whole question of delusions opens a real can of worms: how can we best accommodate our language and worldview to reality without making overly many pre-assumptions about how reality actually is, recognizing that anytime we do make an assumption we automatically exclude certain realms of thought from consideration.

I think you’re making a false assumption about the above in boldface. Since having gotten started with handicapped children work, I’ve noticed that parents seem every bit as loving and caring toward terribly disfigured children as they are towards the cute ones. I suspect that a person’s beauty or homliness is strictly a factor of sexual maturation. Rihanna was no doubt a cute and cuddly baby due to the fact that she needed to be one in order to grow up to be as lovely as she is now. I do get what you’re saying, though.

As for what humanity can properly assume to be connected with reality, that’s a struggle perhaps for mathematicians and nuclear physicists. Oh wait, . . . you are that!

Again, I think a carefully structured definition of healthy delusion is needed before much else will be agreed on here. Maybe we can check back in on the question tonight? (Getting ready to leave now.)

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 04:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
unknown zone - 07 March 2009 03:22 PM
burt - 07 March 2009 02:39 PM

Everyday delusions come and go, and may be vitally important (where would any of us be if our moms had not believed we were the cutest most adorable little monsters they had ever seen?) but it could be valuable to be able to witness them in the flow of daily experience (“Ah, right, that one again…”).  That’s where some sort of general category map comes in handy.  Philosophically, this whole question of delusions opens a real can of worms: how can we best accommodate our language and worldview to reality without making overly many pre-assumptions about how reality actually is, recognizing that anytime we do make an assumption we automatically exclude certain realms of thought from consideration.

I think you’re making a false assumption about the above in boldface. Since having gotten started with handicapped children work, I’ve noticed that parents seem every bit as loving and caring toward terribly disfigured children as they are towards the cute ones. I suspect that a person’s beauty or homliness is strictly a factor of sexual maturation. Rihanna was no doubt a cute and cuddly baby due to the fact that she needed to be one in order to grow up to be as lovely as she is now. I do get what you’re saying, though.

As for what humanity can properly assume to be connected with reality, that’s a struggle perhaps for mathematicians and nuclear physicists. Oh wait, . . . you are that!

Again, I think a carefully structured definition of healthy delusion is needed before much else will be agreed on here. Maybe we can check back in on the question tonight? (Getting ready to leave now.)

Sorry, you mistook my meaning.  What I meant (very tongue in cheek) was that without motherly delusions we all would have been strangled within our first few years for being such horrid little beasts (I recall, for example, playing with matches and setting the straw packing in a barrel of moms best china service on fire).  Actual physical cuteness has nothing to do with it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29

Sorry for not catching that, burt. I suspect that I also misstated what sort of physicist you are, too. My apologies.

As for starting and perhaps refining a working definition for exactly what it is we’re discussing here (patterns of workaday delusion), see what you think:

1. A delusion generally occurs outside some usual realm. For example, some of the early contestants on American Idol are torture to listen to, yet the “singers” think they have talent. They’re delusional, it seems to me. The usual realm consists of many of the people who hear the horrible singers sing.

2. Bias tends to prevent a delusion from being recognized as a delusion although strong evidence is often all about.

3. I’ll give you my take on differentiating delusion from illusion with an example. I get a little queasy when I stop and think about the fact (at least as I see it, it’s a fact) that my entire decision-making process gets done according to neurological and other somewhat fixed entities. I’m not sure why it makes me nervous, but I prefer to pretend, rarely even thinking about it consciously, that I have free will in the style of typical American Christian doctrine. I see this tendency of mine not delusion, but more like an illusion that I accept within myself. I differentiate this sort of thing (I can probably come up with other examples if this one is less than clear) from delusion because it seems more like what Nhoj described in watching a movie or play. That is, I treat life somewhat as a movie, needing to pretend a bit to get along with it.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2009 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2927
Joined  2006-12-17
unknown zone - 07 March 2009 11:58 PM

As for starting and perhaps refining a working definition for exactly what it is we’re discussing here (patterns of workaday delusion), see what you think:

1. A delusion generally occurs outside some usual realm. For example, some of the early contestants on American Idol are torture to listen to, yet the “singers” think they have talent. They’re delusional, it seems to me. The usual realm consists of many of the people who hear the horrible singers sing.

I’m not sure about the thought that delusion occurs outside some usual realm.  Maybe a personal example would help: I can recall back when I was young and horny all the time that I would sometimes believe that women were coming on to me when they actually were just being friendly.  That was a delusion, but I don’t see it as happening outside any usual realm, I would believe this happening in normal everyday situations. 

unknown zone - 07 March 2009 11:58 PM

2. Bias tends to prevent a delusion from being recognized as a delusion although strong evidence is often all about.

Certainly internal biases will do that, as well as social biases in group cases.  What about something like positive feedback between the nature of the delusion and the biases (and other psychological and social factors) that prevent its recognition.

unknown zone - 07 March 2009 11:58 PM

3. I’ll give you my take on differentiating delusion from illusion with an example. I get a little queasy when I stop and think about the fact (at least as I see it, it’s a fact) that my entire decision-making process gets done according to neurological and other somewhat fixed entities. I’m not sure why it makes me nervous, but I prefer to pretend, rarely even thinking about it consciously, that I have free will in the style of typical American Christian doctrine. I see this tendency of mine not delusion, but more like an illusion that I accept within myself. I differentiate this sort of thing (I can probably come up with other examples if this one is less than clear) from delusion because it seems more like what Nhoj described in watching a movie or play. That is, I treat life somewhat as a movie, needing to pretend a bit to get along with it.

A nice distinction to make, but a philosophically slippery example if ever there was one.  grin  How about something like: delusion arises when a person believes the illusion rather than just accepting it (if it is functional) or attempting to understand it. (Just asked my wife what her take on the distinction is and she said that delusions are non-functional things that divert you or drain energy while illusions are just “images,” and “sometimes that’s all that keeps you going.”)

Another question it seems would be the connection between delusions and beliefs—could say that a delusion is a false belief, but I think there might be more than that.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 March 2009 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2821
Joined  2005-04-29
burt - 08 March 2009 04:26 AM
unknown zone - 07 March 2009 11:58 PM

3. I’ll give you my take on differentiating delusion from illusion with an example. I get a little queasy when I stop and think about the fact (at least as I see it, it’s a fact) that my entire decision-making process gets done according to neurological and other somewhat fixed entities. I’m not sure why it makes me nervous, but I prefer to pretend, rarely even thinking about it consciously, that I have free will in the style of typical American Christian doctrine. I see this tendency of mine not delusion, but more like an illusion that I accept within myself. I differentiate this sort of thing (I can probably come up with other examples if this one is less than clear) from delusion because it seems more like what Nhoj described in watching a movie or play. That is, I treat life somewhat as a movie, needing to pretend a bit to get along with it.

A nice distinction to make, but a philosophically slippery example if ever there was one.  grin  How about something like: delusion arises when a person believes the illusion rather than just accepting it (if it is functional) or attempting to understand it. (Just asked my wife what her take on the distinction is and she said that delusions are non-functional things that divert you or drain energy while illusions are just “images,” and “sometimes that’s all that keeps you going.”)

Another question it seems would be the connection between delusions and beliefs—could say that a delusion is a false belief, but I think there might be more than that.

I think a delusion is in part a false belief, and the other parts are what are so slippery.

I think that if I understand that some false belief I hold to is indeed false, that that understanding tends to wear away at my being able to refer to it as a delusion. Could it simply be a matter of how often or how thoroughly I remind myself that it’s false?

I’ll have to think about your other points. CanZen: what’s your take on it?

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed