Tuesday, May 5, 2015

17 delusion-like beliefs of British adults

I was taught that logos (logical argument) was an important part of public speaking, but now I’m having second thoughts. Recently I read a magazine article by psychologists Rachel Pechey and Peter Halligan titled The Prevalence of Delusion-like Beliefs Relative to Sociocultural Beliefs in the General Population that appeared in 2011 on pages 106 to 115 in Vol. 44 of Psychopathology magazine. You can read the abstract here (and find the full text by a Google search of the title in quotes with the added phrase filetype:pdf).

They developed the Cardiff Beliefs Questionnaire (CBQ), which includes 46 questions. 19 are about political, social and science-related beliefs. 10 are about paranormal and religious beliefs, and 17 are about delusion-like beliefs (10 bizarre).  A telephone survey using the CBQ was done on a sample of 1000 British adults (52.1% female and 47.9% male). (The CBQ does not ask if you believe that Cardiff is the capital of Wales).

First, let’s look at ten bizarre delusion-like beliefs in British adults. The total percent who strongly, moderately, or weakly believe them is shown first, and the percent who strongly believe them also is shown in [square brackets]. The type of delusion is shown in parentheses.

1.   44.3% - You are not in control of some of your actions  [10.8%] (Controlled actions).

2.   38.7% - Certain places are duplicated, i. e. are in 2 different locations at the same time  [6.8%] (Reduplicative paramnesia (place)).

3.   33.6% - Your thoughts are not fully under your control  [6.2%] (Controlled thoughts).

4.   32.7% - There is another person who looks and acts like you  (5.4%) (Subjective doubles).

5.   26.2% - Some people are duplicated, i. e. are in 2 places at the same time  [4.1%] (Reduplicative paramnesia (person)).

6.   24.9% - People you know disguise themselves as others to manipulate or influence you [4.4%] (Fregoli).

7.   18.4% - The reflection in the mirror is sometimes not you  [2.6%] (Mirrored-self misidentification).

8.   6.1% - Part of your body does not belong to you  [1.1%] (Somatoparaphenia).

9.   5.8% - Relatives or close friends are sometimes replaced by identical looking impostors  [0.4%] (Capgras).

10.  5.4% - You are dead and/or do not exist [0.9%] (Cotard).

Comedian Flip Wilson used to do a specific version of Number 1 - where his character Geraldine Jones lamented that The Devil made me do it. Numbers 2 and 5 violate the tagline in the Highlander films that There can be only one.

Another seven delusion-like beliefs of British adults are:

11.  46.4% - Your body or part of your body is misshapen or ugly [10.8%] (Body dysmorphia). 

12.  40.5% - You are an exceptionally gifted person that others do not recognise [3.8%](Grandeur).

13.  38.5% - People say or do things that contain special messages for you [7.0%](Reference).

14.  33.8% - Certain people are out to harm or discredit you [6.5%] (Persecution).

15.  12.9% - The world is about to end  [1.7%] (Nihilism).

16.  12.4% - You are infested by parasites  [2.8%] (Parasitosis).

17.  6.9% - Some well known celebrity is secretly in love with you  [1.0%] (Erotomania).

I saw the magazine article mentioned in an article by Graham Lawton on pages 28 to 33 of  the April 4, 2015 issue of New Scientist titled Beyond Belief that you can read here. It was also slightly delusional - only mentioning Peter Halligan and ignoring the senior author, Rachel Pechey.   

The image was adapted from one for Acute Dementia found at the Images from the History of Medicine web site.

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