In the DSM-5 (Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders), delusions are defined and described in this way:
Delusions are fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. Their content may include a variety of themes (e.g. persecutory, referential, somatic, religious, grandiose).
Delusions are deemed bizarre if they are clearly implausible and not understandable to same-culture peers and do not derive from ordinary life experiences.
The distinction between a delusion and a strongly held idea is sometimes difficult to make and depends in part on the degree of conviction with which the belief is held despite clear or reasonable contradictory evidence regarding its veracity.
The last sentence in my quote above is important in more than one way. What that paragraph says is, that if a delusion is shared by many people, then that type of delusion should not be called delusional.
Is it logical to reason in that way? If it is (but I disagree strongly), then we must highlight the the size of all religious groups worshipping one or more special gods. And also take into consideration how unique or common the used religious rituals in a religious group are.
Those difficuties – this dilemma – are discussed here: 1) http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.se/2013/06/delusions-in-dsm-5.html . And 2) here: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/the-bible-of-psychiatric-diagnosis-exempts-religion-from-delusions-even-though-it-is-one/ . And 3) here: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/04/truly-madly-deeply-delusional .
Here’s a quote from the blog “Why evolution is true” (see link #2 above), where Jerry Coyne carries the DSM-5 statement to its extremes by concluding:
If 80% of the population suddenly became schizophrenic, would that no longer be seen as a mental disorder because it’s common?
And Jerry Coyne continues:
What is important, I think, is not the frequency of a “disorder” — whether it deviates from the “norm” — but whether it inhibits one’s well-being or leads to behaviors that interrupt one’s life and rest on distorted views of reality (e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorder). The fact is that if, say, evangelical Christianity were the sole religion in the world, and was seen in only 2% of the population, the DSM would classify it as a delusional disorder. [But not in today’s world.]
And finally, here’s an interesting quote from the newspaper The Guardian (see link #3 above):
The general idea [in the fifth edition of DSM seems to be] that delusions represent a problem with how you believe – that is, a problem with forming and changing beliefs – not a problem with what you believe. In other words, simply believing something strange or unusual should not be considered a problem but having “stuck” beliefs that are completely impervious to reality suggests something is mentally awry.
No longer are psychiatrists asked to decide whether the patient has “a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary”. A wordy and unhelpful definition that has so many logical holes you could drive a herd of unicorns through it.
I have to stop writing here and make a facepalm – or two. How in this world (or in afterlife) is it possible to define delusions in that manner? Isn’t it obvious that both the WHAT and the HOW questions are, at least in many ways, equally important when it comes to defining a delusion?
WHAT you believe in has consequences for the way you lead your life.
But so has the answers of the questions concerning HOW you yourself (or your cult leader) decide and motivate how your thought paradigm should/must affect your life and be interpreted.
HOW you explain to yourself (cf. the concept of self-deception) and others the consequences (of WHAT you believe) can really be delusional. So why shouldn’t that aspect matter? Of course the life you lead could be delusional irrespective of how many people there are to believe in the same woo magical or religious bullshit.
Click that link, and you can read about what religious true believers think of atheism and atheists. I’m not sure all the 100 questions asked to atheists are the dumbest ever. But many of them are really dumb – in a delusional and almost hysterically funny way. *now time for another facepalm; hope you’ll join me by doing the same*