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Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer in the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight
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Popping into your mind
When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion.
—Robert M. Pirsig[1]

A delusion is an aggressively-held belief that is evidently false. It is commonly (but not exclusively) the result of a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia.

Systematically shared beliefs between close social groups, such as religious systems, are commonly regarded as delusions amongst scientists, philosophers and psychologists, but are typically considered exempt by most clinical diagnostic criteria (e.g., the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The noted New Atheist, Richard Dawkins, wrote a book entitled The God Delusion, in which he asserted that the question of God's existence was tied to the question of special creation, and then argued that since special creation has largely been demonstrated to be false, belief in God is a delusion.


Various phrases sometimes used to gaslight.

Sometimes a correct belief may be mistaken for a delusion, such as when the belief in question is not demonstrably false but is nevertheless considered beyond the realm of possibility. A specific variant of this is when a person is fed lies in an attempt to convince them that they are delusional, a process called "gaslighting," after the 1938 play (and 1944 film) Gaslight, the plot of which centered around the process.

Gaslighting is frequently used by people with antisocial personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.[2]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals by Robert M. Pirsig (1991) Bantam. ISBN 0553299611.
  2. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout (2006) Harmony. ISBN 0767915828.
  3. What we talk about when we talk about Donald Trump and ‘gaslighting’ by Caitlin Gibson (January 27 at 1:25 PM) The Washington Post.