I Call BS! Deceitful Tactics and Delusional Thinking
Fact from Fiction
I have known a few people, not the least of which being my ex-husband, who suffered from pretty severe delusions. My ex lied about everything, from his mom having died of cancer (she’s still alive and never once suffered a chronic illness) to his annual income (he told people it was $85,000, but it was closer to $55,000). The problem with knowing and loving people like this is they suck you into their lies. And before long, you don’t know fact from fiction.
Breaking news surrounding Manti Te’o, the football star from Notre Dame University, has shone the media’s white hot spotlight once more on lying. I won’t go into the particulars of Manti’s story – he publicly fell in love with a woman who never existed – but I would like to discuss delusional disorder, which some experts suggest afflicts Manti. I never even knew this was a real condition, but it is in fact a medical disease, and more stories are beginning to reveal its prevalence in society.
The primary feature of delusional disorder, previously referred to as paranoid disorder, is a marked inability to separate reality from fantasy. Individuals with this disorder become convinced that things that are imaginary are actually fact. Typically, these fantasies seem to be grounded in reality and are mere misinterpretations of things that do exist in the real world. These delusions can range from the patently false to the exaggerated.
Individuals suffering with delusional disorder don't usually exhibit any noticeably strange behavior in their daily lives, but it can definitely have an adverse affect on mental stability. To highlight a parallel, delusional disorder isn't a form of schizophrenia because the fantasies associated with that illness are characterized as "bizarre."
After considering this information, it’s worth asking if society itself is helping to fuel a new brand of delusional disorder, one in which people seeking fame and fortune prey upon the sympathies of a large and drama-hungry audience. How much does emerging technology play a role in the fabricated stories these people weave about themselves to gain acclaim? Both Twitter and Facebook – the mediums through which Manti supposedly communicated with his girlfriend – encourage people to craft versions of themselves that are more tantalizing than the truth.
What, then, is the solution to a growing decadence that encourages delusional disorder? Traditional treatments include individual psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and family therapy. I suggest, however, we turn off our televisions, unplug our computers, and put our mobile devices out of reach. Perhaps turning to the ones we love and spending time with real friends and family (rather than those in cyberspace) will cure us all of our rampant delusional disorder.