Religious madness is a delusional symptomatic of content that is often associated with schizophrenia. Often the delusion goes hand in hand with a salvation mission. Treatment of the patient is usually difficult due to the ego syntony.
People with religious delusions are often convinced that they are in direct communication with God. In some cases they also believe that they have been chosen to be the new Messiah themselves and that they will be sent to earth for the redemption of the world.
Delusion is a symptom of psychiatric illness. In the psychopathological finding, delusion is a content-related thought disorder in the context of various disorders of the psyche. Delusional diseases disrupt the way of life through beliefs incompatible with objective reality. The judgment of those affected is disturbed.
Similar thinking disorders are overvalue ideas and obsessive-compulsive thoughts. In contrast to delusional patients, however, the patients with this thinking disorder usually know that their thoughts are in conflict with objective reality and normality. The delusion mainly characterizes diseases like schizophrenia. Delusions can vary in content. A relatively widespread content is religious topics.
This religious form of delusion is called religious delusion designated. The patients of such a madness suffer from false but unshakable ideas in the form of beliefs that contradict the personal level of education and the cultural or social background of the person concerned. The patients represent their beliefs with extraordinary conviction and ego syntony. Your personal certainty withstands any evidence to the contrary.
According to recent studies, up to 30 percent of all schizophrenic delusional events are related to religious issues. This makes the religious delusion one of the most common delusional topics. In addition to schizophrenia, many other illnesses are associated with delusional symptoms. This applies, for example, to mood disorders such as major depression or mania and bipolar disorder.
The primary cause is often dementia or brain damage. In the context of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, in particular, often causes symptoms of madness. Almost as often the delusion occurs in vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and fronto-temporal dementia. The religious delusion is therefore usually not caused by purely psychological phenomena, but is in the majority of all cases related to organic brain damage.
On the other hand, cases of religious madness are also known that are not associated with organic brain changes. Depending on the primary causal disease, there are different forms of religious madness. Ultimately, the religious madness is to be understood as a symptom in which the diseases mentioned find expression.
Often the religious delusions do not arise from a personal religious experience. Rather, they arise in the context of human conflicts, such as marital problems or fear of death.
People with religious delusions are often convinced that they are in direct communication with God. In some cases they also believe that they have been chosen to be the new Messiah themselves and that they will be sent to earth for the redemption of the world. In such a case there is talk of a religious madness with a salvation mission.
The patients are completely fixated on their delusional content and feed all of their thoughts and actions from it. In their delusional system, they are completely immune to critical counter-arguments. In paranoid schizophrenia, patients often experience a great need to communicate and disseminate their delusional religious ideas.
In many cases a patient with religious delusion alternates between dialogue forms and monologue structures with the same content. In most cases, the delusion results in an alienation or partial alienation from the environment. The patient is usually isolated from the outside world, since no one apart from him represents the content of the delusion.
In most cases, those affected with religious delusion are not integrated into religious communities either, as their ideas do not go together with the widespread ones. In clinical practice, religious mania often leads to severe physical harm.
In the context of diagnostics, religious madness must be distinguished from religious belief. In a delusion, knowledge is asserted instead of belief. They do not make any creeds, but communicate in objectively impossible perceptions of reality. A realistic self-assessment is still possible with religious beliefs.
Patients with religious delusions, on the other hand, suffer from arrogant self-assessment. In their religious beliefs, patients are also able to distance themselves and to question the religious content. Patients with religious delusions are unable to distance themselves from their fixed ideas and see no starting point for questioning their ideas.
The prognosis for patients with religiously delusional symptoms depends on the underlying disease. In many cases, complete healing cannot be achieved due to ego syntony.
In the course of religious madness, numerous complications can arise, most of which are of a social nature. Serious self-harm is also possible. Thus, in most cases, the delusional idea of the person concerned will lead to social isolation. Insisting on knowledge of a certain religious issue can also lead to serious conflicts that can affect family relationships, other social contacts and the work environment, among other things.
The fixation on the contents of the madness can also lead to a neglect of other areas of life, which can result in incapacity for work and the neglect of one's own needs. Along with the fact that even religious communities can be overwhelmed when integrating such psychotics, the conflict between what the environment believes and what the psychotic thinks they know often leads to self-isolation.
Self-harming behavior can be caused by the fact that the person concerned identifies or equates with a martyr from religious traditions, for example, and is ready to imitate his actions. The tendency to take risks is fueled - often fed by a delusional overestimation of self - if the person concerned sees himself as a savior on God's behalf.
A religious delusion is not a disease on its own. It usually occurs with other complaints that give an overall picture. It is characteristic that the person affected often shows no insight into the disease. Therefore, parents, relatives or people from the social environment are responsible for initiating a doctor's visit.
If the person concerned is in communication with imaginary beings, this alone is not a feature that is worrying. Actions in the name of God have also been carried out for many millennia and are not interpreted as signs of illness.
The limit to illness is exceeded if the person concerned reports hearing voices or self-appointed healing missions apparently without a reason. There is a fixation of the delusional content that changes the way people think and act. The behavior of the person concerned is called from the norm and should be presented to a doctor.
Other signs include monologues and an unasked influence on the environment. There is harassment that leads to social conflict. The theses expressed often lack a solid foundation and are defended with all vehemence by those affected. If it comes to insults, aggressive behavior tendencies or self-harm, a doctor must be consulted.
Treatment of patients with religious delusion depends on the underlying disease. Psychotropic drugs are primarily available for conservative drug therapy. For schizophrenia, electroconvulsive therapy has also recently been used, in which seizures are stimulated under anesthesia. However, the benefit of this form of therapy remains controversial.
In addition, sociotherapy, occupational therapy and occupational therapy are used to normalize daily routines. The same goes for exercise therapy. In psychotherapy, individual vulnerability is alleviated, external stressors are reduced and coping with the disease is supported.
The therapy focuses on acceptance, self-management and coping with problems. Behavioral and cognitive therapeutic elements can be integrated into the sessions. In most cases, family therapy takes place.
This is due to the fact that the religious madness not only has extreme effects on the relatives of the psychotic, but the symptoms of madness often arise on the breeding ground of interpersonal problems in the closer circle. The real difficulty with religious delusional symptoms is understanding the disease. The ego syntony of delusion must become an ego dystonia in order for the patient to feel stress at all.
Religious delusional symptoms are only the symptom of a superordinate disease and can therefore only be prevented to the extent that the causal diseases can be prevented.
Follow-up care for religious madness is largely dependent on the underlying cause. Above all, schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse and mania come into question. Accordingly, the religious madness is usually an expression of these ailments and rarely requires targeted follow-up care that would be limited to this symptom.
Follow-up care may be necessary in the case of religious madness, however, if this has led to actions on the part of the person concerned. Self-harm, delusional crimes and similar things are sometimes carried out by people in religious delusions. Follow-up care ranges from wound care to first aid and legal assistance.
The religious delusion, which is limited to a verbally expressed delusion through monologues, messages of salvation and the like, usually only leads to social problems. Here again, the follow-up care should be based on the underlying condition. Furthermore, religious madness can also be dependent on triggers.
These consist, for example, of religious symbols, certain statements and similar things. In the interest of social coexistence and when there is doubt that the delusions have completely vanished, it makes sense to avoid these triggers. In the sense of social aftercare, the environment should also contribute.
There is no self-help measure with religious mania that can address the root cause of the problem. The religious madness as such is in all cases a symptom of another psychological ailment. However, there are certainly opportunities for those affected to improve the scope and handling of the delusion.
Basically, it makes sense for those affected if they can get to know and name the triggers of their religious madness. If it turns out (in the course of therapy) that there are certain key stimuli that are more likely to lead to a delusion, these stimuli should be consistently avoided. Avoiding triggers is only effective if the religious delusion is not a permanent state but a phased state of mind.
In the event that the person concerned is permanently delusional, various measures can be taken. Self-help groups are useful in many cases, as coping strategies can be discussed here with other affected persons. In these cases, too, it is appropriate to move things that are part of the madness - such as religious objects - out of the reach of the person concerned.