The difficulty grude, is that over time, and unchecked, delusional behaviour has a tendency to escalate. It is not uncommon for those suffering from it to become aggressive, then self-destructive or violent.
Believing in fairies is a little different to believing you are a prophet with some kind of world affecting powers.
Unless of course, you are four years old. Then it’s completely normal.
The measure of what I would feel if I was reported to the authorities for saying insane things is not the proper standard of judgment for whether my friends acted properly or not. The measure is closer to what a reasonable, disinterested person would think of reporting someone for expressing the beliefs in question.
For example, if I said that I think I could fly and I was getting ready to take a leap off the Empire State Building, and my friend had the authorities take me in for a psychological evaluation, I’d probably be mad at my friend for destroying my plan. But my friend still acted justifiably.
If I told my friend that I thought astrology was a reliable science, and my friend attempted to have be institutionalized for that, I would be mad, too. But I also think a reasonable person would say that the friend was in the wrong to report me for a harmless belief.
In the case of the other thread, I think there’s a good basis to alert authorities to what seems like a very serious mental health issue, regardless of whether the Prophet thinks he has been betrayed by Judas.
I think it comes down to whether or not the delusion is leading to dangerous or bizarre behavior. Does the women sit in the yard for hours talking to the fairies in the trees? Does she yell at people trimming trees that they’re hurting the fairies? The problem isn’t what she believes, it’s what those beliefs lead her to do.
I’m having a hard time believing we’ve gotten this far without anyone saying the obvious.
Of COURSE they’re going to be angry, they’re delusional and they believe that this is true. There is no way other than a treatment program actually working that you could do this and not negatively impact your friendship.
Well, for starters, Charlie Sheen is not raving about tiger blood any more, because he got (and is still getting, I’m sure) help for his problems. But it wasn’t just because of his delusions that he needed help; he was a danger to himself and others.
The thing is, people generally don’t just start believing something totally bizarre out of the blue without also having other problems. If Bozuit’s friend had always believed he was a prophet, or had developed this philosophy gradually over time, and was otherwise able to function perfectly fine in life, then most people - including me - would just say, “Well, whatever.” But this sudden “revelation” indicates something more problematic, like a psychotic break, or, as you yourself suggested in the other thread, a manic episode, or some other condition that impairs the friend’s ability to function. And sure enough:
He’s been losing motivation, becoming reclusive, and failing in basic self-care, like taking medication. That’s going nowhere good. And whatever is causing that, plus delusions now, that’s the problem, not the delusions themselves. But everyone jumped on the delusions because the fact that they suddenly showed up out of nowhere was a big bright red flag, as was the fact that they’re specific to this individual, and not something shared by others, like a religion. I mean, if this friend had suddenly “found Jesus” or some other prophet, it would have certainly been worrying, given the context. But thinking he is a prophet? Yeah. There’s no way that’s not a symptom of something much, much worse.
As far as I’m concerned, as long as my friend is only talking about beliefs, it’s not a big deal. If he started getting paranoid or aggressive or told me about things he was going to do to others or to himself for reasons only he understands, then I would probably, at the very least, seek *advice *from a mental health professional. I wouldn’t be calling the cops of trying to have them committed, but I’d look into the symptoms and ask an expert whether there’s cause for concern.
I’d hope my friends would do the same for me. There’s a big difference between:
There are fairies in the trees, I like to sing to them.
Don’t you see those fairies? Talk to them, they’ll help you feel happier.
The fairies are coming into my room at night and moving things around. I’m cutting down all the trees to get rid of them.
The fairies want me to sacrifice my dog to them.
I don’t think there’s much to worry about until someone gets to 3 or 4 or worse. 1 and 2 are no better or worse than many a “mainstream” religion or belief system, and aren’t cause for alarm, IMO.