The Numerous Iterations of Delusional Thinking in Schizophrenia

Michael Hedrick
June 05, 2017  | Last Updated: June 05, 2017

In my time living with mental illness, I’ve come to recognize the numerous ways your mind can play tricks on you. If it doesn’t tell you people are plotting against you, it’s telling you that there are secret messages in mundane things.


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The ways your brain can play tricks on you are wide and far reaching and can play on your deepest fears and insecurities. Your mind can tell you things and, because that’s what you believe, you’re perceiving it has to be the truth, right? Not necessarily. The thing is, the brain is a complicated mechanism and it’s ok to be caught up in the things it’s telling you. I can remember for many years I had the delusion that people were making fun for some perceived weakness that I had. I tried altering my behavior. I tried carrying myself differently. I tried talking differently. I tried every conceivable thing I could to reverse this weakness that my brain was telling me people were talking advantage. I fought and fought against it so hard that just everyday life was an intense struggle. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, and I didn’t want to go out in public.

What I didn’t realize was that it was ok to have this delusion. The automatic thinking when you have delusions and paranoia is to increase meds, and that these things are bad and should not be present. It’s only true in that regard because it could contribute to suffering. That’s what I didn’t realize about drugs. They weren’t made for controlling my behavior; they were made for making me feel better, they were made for my benefit.

The point is, while drugs are used to tamp down these delusions, it also requires personal work for you to accept the things your brain is telling you and to be ok with them. Taking the work of fighting out of the equation is a great load off your shoulders.

Delusions can come from anywhere; they can be triggered by a strange look or a word someone says or even the thought about something that makes you anxious. They come in all iterations, from conclusions about your appearance to conclusions about your behavior to conclusions about weird and wild stuff, like the idea that aliens are controlling human behavior with radio implants in our brains.

When you accept these ideas, you come to see them as products of your mixed up brain chemistry; you see them for the delusions that they are, and you have power over whether or not to believe them.

It can be so confusing when your brain is telling you things that aren’t true. Think about it: for our entire lives we’ve relied on our brains to tell us the truth about what we perceive. We believe our senses. You can’t do that when you have schizophrenia. You have to parse out and eventually become good at reading cues and situations so you can fully unwrap any given situation and find the truth in it.

It sounds hard, but it’s part and parcel of the experience of having a mental illness. If I could tell normal people one thing it would be to be patient with us: there’s a storm in our heads, and we’re just trying to find shelter.


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