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delusions of reference

Delusions of Reference Explained

Though your brain is your body’s most complex organ, there are still limits to how much information and input it can process. As a result, it uses built-in “shortcuts” to be more efficient, which can affect its capacity for rational thought. Delusions of reference are one example of this phenomenon.

What Is a Delusion of Reference?

Often, ideas of reference are transitory – they quickly pass through someone’s mind and are easy to dismiss by thinking about them rationally. However, people with conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and dementia have a harder time distinguishing fantasy from reality. In these cases, they will hold tightly to their beliefs, despite concrete evidence that these thoughts are irrational or cannot possibly be true.

A delusion of reference is a false conviction that external activities and events are personally meaningful or significant, or that others’ actions directly relate to you.

Ideas of Reference Examples

Many of us can think of a time when we developed a superstition or felt that the universe was sending us a special sign. Some of these ideas are harmless, while others may drastically impact your life. Here are some examples.

  • You see and hear messages uniquely for you on the radio, in movies or on TV.
  • You believe everyone is staring, judging and talking about you when you go out in public. Because of this, you limit your trips outside your home.
  • You think you can impact the outcome of a sporting event by sitting in a specific spot on the couch.
  • You buy a lotto ticket every time you find a penny facing heads-up on the ground.

Causes and Factors for Ideas of Reference

Referential delusions are a fact of life for many people, but some variables can increase their intensity and frequency.

  • Bipolar disorder: People with bipolar disorder may experience delusional ideas more frequently than an average person, depending on their current depressive, manic or hypomanic state.
  • Brain injuries: Those with brain injuries – especially to the frontal lobe and right hemisphere – tend to be more prone to delusions, due to other brain areas overcompensating for the resulting cognitive impairment.
  • Schizophrenia: One of the most prevalent schizophrenia symptoms include paranoia and beliefs that others are out to get you.
  • Psychosis: People with psychosis are likely to experience delusions of reference from the effects of drug abuse, imbalanced brain chemicals or genetic abnormalities.
  • Stress: Chronic stress can adversely affect all facets of physical and mental well-being, making someone more susceptible to irrational thoughts and ideas.
  • Dementia: Dementia-related confusion and memory loss often contribute to delusions and ideas of reference.

Holistic Healing for Your Mental and Behavioral Health

If delusional or irrational ideas are affecting your quality of life, treatment is available. At Vista Taos, we provide individualized psychiatric care in a therapeutically rich environment. Our master’s-level clinicians will develop a comprehensive plan that accounts for your experiences. We take a holistic approach that accounts for all facets of your well-being. We make it possible for you to recover with life-changing experiences and amenities.

To learn more about recovering in Taos, New Mexico, contact us today.

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