DR SANJAY TEOTIA suggests that it is okay to be delusional sometimes to a very limited extent
To delude oneself is basic nature for most. Delusions are false beliefs, but nevertheless it is a belief held with strong conviction despite evidence to the contrary. Delusions upto a certain extent are normal, but when it crosses that limit, it comes under the category of psychological problems. Many people who indulge in corruption, wrong deeds, crime and violence are in delusion that they are not doing anything bad; they think and justify these actions as necessary for survival in the kind of immoral and degraded society we live in today. Such actions are necessary to survive, they argue.
Such people believe that they are never doing anything wrong. They, in fact, delude themselves into believing that what they did is right.
Politicians of this era remain in delusion. When they are in power, they think that they are almost Godlike; in fact they delude themselves that they are blessed with supreme powers. Even when they are out of power, they believe that it is only a matter of time when they will win and come in power again. Whether this will ever happen or not is another thing altogether, yet this delusion keeps them happy.
One of my closest associates lost one of his limbs in an accident and when I met him to convey my sympathy, the answer he gave me took me by surprise. He said, “I am happy only one of my limbs is damaged and that I am still alive.” He said he was thankful that he had not lost all his four limbs in the accident. This delusion keeps him psychologically strong and prevents him from slipping into depression.
Some people suffer from delusions of grandeur. These people can be very poor and have nothing to their name, but they still think that they are supreme. They behave like very rich and powerful people; this condition is labelled as a psychological and psychiatric problem.
However, some people believe that these are positive delusions and that these are necessary to keep people happy in adverse conditions also.
But a word of caution here – while some bit of delusion is good, too much positive thinking can lead to self-destruction. You experience a false sense of growth because you lower your awareness, and are blind to your problems instead of facing them.
Some people get disturbed with small losses. They develop a negative psychology and question why this happens only with me or why do I only have to always remain a sufferer, they ask. They suffer from the delusion that I am being singled out and that all others are happy. They always fear and develop phobias due to this hypothetical fear. Most of the time, they develop anxiety neurosis. These are negative delusions and keep the person sad most of the time.
Only a few people think right and look at reality correctly. Otherwise, most people either think false positive or false negative.
Then there are those who choose to look the other way when their own relatives cheat other people. Such persons usually maintain double standards because it means that when his own near and dear ones do unsocial or antisocial action such as indulge in crime, or are corrupt, then he whitewashes their acts by pretending that it is part of his job or he is only doing what all others do. Such people don’t want to believe that they are doing anything wrong. But when other persons do the same wrong deeds, then the same person overreacts and is sure to point this out.
We now come to the question – why is it that people have flawed thinking or have notions of false positive or false negative thinking? One reason is that the person chooses to keep himself in delusion because right thinking gives him pain. He, therefore wants to avoid pain and remain happy.
Such people are willfully choosing to distance themselves from reality.
But this is the basic psychology of a human being that he does not want to listen to any adverse comment about himself or his near and dear ones. He does not stop to think that this comment is perhaps right. Such an attitude only tells us that our near and dear ones are perfect and can never do anything wrong.
Although this is a type of delusion, but then the world cannot always be looked at in terms of pure white or black. And therefore, sometimes a little bit of delusion is okay to lead a peaceful life.
Dr Sanjay Teotia is a senior consultant eye surgeon