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  1. #1

    Conspiracy Theories Explained

    PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENICS are prone to delusions, tales in which random events become deeply meaningful. Some believe in complex conspiracies; others think they are Jesus Christ.

    These stories sound crazy, but they may be the brain's efforts to make sense of its own internal messages, suggests S. Kapur, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto and vice president of research at the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. In addition to other brain abnormalities, schizophrenics have too much dopamine. Just as addicts' desensitized dopamine systems make them feel that nothing matters, high levels of the neurotransmitter make schizophrenics believe that everything is significant.

    Because the addict's dopamine-driven salience system keeps telling her that something very important is happening, ordinary events appear intensely meaningful. That police car? That song on the radio? That man with a cigarette walking by? They must be part of a massive international conspiracy.

    Kapur calls it "biased inductive logic"-a top-down effort to explain the feeling that everything seems important. The cognitive parts of a schizophrenic's brain create the paranoid tale in an effort to explain the constant red alert blaring from the dopamine circuits, using any stimuli available. This is why delusions are culturally appropriate. African schizophrenics may fear they've fallen under the spell of a shaman, while Kapur's patients in Toronto think that the Mounties are after them.

    Kapur cautions that this theory is still speculative, but it could support a radical idea: treating schizophrenia with cognitive therapy. If drugs control the overactive dopamine system, patients may then gradually unlearn their delusions. -KM

    Kathleen McGowan. Psychology Today. New York: Nov/Dec 2004. Vol. 37, Iss. 6; p. 91 (1 page)

  2. #2
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    Conspiracy Theories Explained

    This is definitely an interesting article. My stepson's father suffers from three "conspiracies". It seems like everything in his life fits into one of these three. No matter how you try to explain otherwise, he manages to fit it into these conspiracies. The strange thing is, if you were to believe that what he said was true, it would make a lot of sense. His various delusions have become so intricate, it seems like there is really no way out of them, since his whole life for the past three years revolves around them. I remember once, I tried to explain to him that he was delusional, and he basically tried to make it look like I was a fool to believe that he was so. Very strange disease this schizophrenia is.

  3. #3

    Conspiracy Theories Explained

    There is a phenomenon known as "paranoid insight" -- this is the moment where the individual who has been anxious about and worrying and fretting about certain disparate and unconnected events in his life, "suddenly sees the light": the construction of the delusional system "makes sense" of all these things that have been stressing and distressing him perhaps for weeks, months, or years.

    And of course, if you accept the delusional thinking as even possible instead of delusional, the delusion becomes the best of all possible "explanations". That is why they are so difficult to shake by logic alone.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Conspiracy Theories Explained

    I remember him telling me of that very moment. He spent a couple of months homeless. After that, when he was able to find a permanent home and had access to tv, he told me he "realized" what was going on. There was a vast conspiracy happening within the media being orchastrated by Zionist elements. There were "good" media outlets and shows and there were "bad" ones. Each were either working for him or against him. He even mentioned a radio station that was specifically created to incite the general population against him with the ultimate goal of inspiring someone to assasinate him. It was his reaction to the latter delusion that got him in trouble with the law, and ultimately in a psych ward. Sadly it seems that this is the only way many get the help they need.

  5. #5

    Conspiracy Theories Explained

    Sadly it seems that this is the only way many get the help they need.
    Steve, this is so true! How sad, that it is this way, in the year 2004.

    It took me a long time to learn that I just could'nt argue or rationalize with my son's delusions. It is a bizzare thing to experience when someone seriously believes in their delusion and a natural reaction is to try and convince them, "that psychiatrists are not out to take over the world with drugs". That one makes me chuckle now. However, his firm belief that the medications caused his psychosis and that he never experienced any of the things that all of the people in his life have witnessed him doing when very psychotic is not so funny. It's dangerous and has kept him from taking his medication and relapsing many many times. We see the cognitive deficits this has caused as well as his inability to catch up with years of being psychotic.

    There is a phenomenon known as "paranoid insight" -- this is the moment where the individual who has been anxious about and worrying and fretting about certain disparate and unconnected events in his life, "suddenly sees the light": the construction of the delusional system "makes sense" of all these things that have been stressing and distressing him perhaps for weeks, months, or years.
    This is interesting, David. I never new this.

    There is also the rare delusional disorder that occurs in middle adulthood and is difficult to treat because the person does not see they are ill and will not comply with medication. I recently met a women whose husband was just diagnosed with this. They have a 2yr old daughter and he is unable to work because of his delusion that the staff where he worked are trying to poison him. He also has difficulty eating and with smells. So sad and very difficult for this family that is suddenly faced with this.

    Here is the link to a post in this forum where David put the criteria for different psychotic disorders and includes delusional disorder:
    http://www.psychlinks.ca/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=1181

    I hope your step son's father continues with his treatment, Steve so he can have the best relationship possible with his son.

    Cheers
    Judy

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