It may help caregivers understand delusional thinking if they keep the following in mind:
1.). Delusional thinking is intuitive which is a fancy way of saying it’s guessing. Intuitive leaps can be right at times, and most of us use intuition to some extent. When you are delusional, you get very strong feelings that your hunches are right. Someone once asked John Nash why someone so brilliant could believe seemingly nonsensical things, and he said they seemed to come from the same place in his mind as his breakthroughs, and they similarly felt right.
2.). Normally when you think intuitively, your ‘executive function’ takes over once you get a hunch and checks your work. This process often breaks down when delusional. It’s similar to the scientific process. You form a hypothesis and then you create experiments and make observations that verify it, and take great pains you aren’t fooled by mistakes in logic, assumptions or conclusions. This process breaks down when delusional, and hypotheses are pronounced true with great certainty with little or completely misinterpreted evidence.
3.). There seems to be a bias in delusional thinking toward novel and transgressive thinking. Ideas that are more threatening, odd, audacious and emotionally charged stand out and bubble to the top and seem more compelling and thus feel “right” and true (completely without evidence of course)
4.). Caregivers by proximity and emotional connection figure into and receive “blame” more often than not in delusional thinking. Lacking the introspection to understand that you are the one with the illness leads you to look for an agent that causes your suffering. Sometimes this means blaming things on unnamed oppressors like the FBI or some random famous person, but often caregivers can get the blame just by being a close bystander.
This is from my own experiences with my delusional systems and years of observing my brother’s. When delusions include yourself or other family members, I find it best to detach from the emotional component and try and learn the why behind the delusion. What feeling is being experienced by the delusional person and try to empathize. It’s hard sometimes not to take things personally, but better in the long run.