This world endlessly tells us to live for the desires and wants of others. We live every day to fulfil the desire of our parents, our teachers, our friends and our lovers. But to live for other people’s desired, you must first fulfil your own desires. For our weak “self” identity to survive and develop, we cannot allow other people’s desires dominate us.
There is a mental illness called delusional disorder where the patient is obsessed about a “false belief” and is completely convinced that it is the truth. The word “delusion” brings to mind strange cases such as “I was abducted by aliens” and “the government is monitoring my phone calls”, but these delusions are more common with conditions such as schizophrenia. Instead, delusional disorder presents with delusions such as Othello syndrome (believing your spouse is having an affair) or hypochondria that are not too strange and allows for a relatively normal day-to-day life, making delusional disorder very hard to detect. Furthermore, the patients form these delusions in a very logical and highly structured manner, causing the patient to become easily obsessed with it and make the delusions more believable.
Delusional disorder can be categorised into six types:
- Erotomanic type: delusion that someone is in love with you
- Grandiose type: delusion that you are godlike and possess greater value, strength, intelligence or identity than others
- Jealous type: delusion that your lover is unfaithful
- Persecutory type: delusion that someone is acting malevolently or trying to harm you
- Somatic type: delusion that you have a medical condition or physical defect
- Mixed type: delusion showing characteristics of more than one of the above types, with no one type being prominent
As these patients are so attached to their delusions, treatment is extremely difficult. As soon as a psychiatrist or psychologist attempts treatment or even a close friend denies the delusion, they instantly become an “enemy”. The patient automatically incorporates those people into their delusion and antagonise them to worsen the situation. This is why the key principle of treating delusion is “do not touch the delusion”. For example, if the patient believes they are someone else, instead of negating that delusion you should give them a chance to be that person. A treatment called “psychodrama” uses impromptu acting to bypass the delusion and tries to reach the patient’s subconscious, or their “self”. Through this, one can approach the patient’s “self” via affirming their delusions, allowing the psychiatrist or psychologist to ask what the patient’s “self” wants and discover the source of the delusion. The important point is that this treatment is not an instant cure for the delusions (it takes a while for the patient to rid themselves of the delusions completely).
Delusional disorder is a phenomenon which is not uncommon in people who live for the desires of others. A perfect example would be young celebrities. If young teenagers begin life in the entertainment sector and live for the audience before they develop their own “self”, they may not be able to find answers to questions such as “who am I” and “what do I want”, ultimately causing a weakening of their identity. As the “self” is highly capable of tricking itself, it creates a delusion that can rationalise this situation and works to create a different identity.
Thus, the most important tool for surviving in this world is not money, power, wisdom or love: it is your identity and “self”. If you do not know what you truly want, then life cannot give you happiness and success.