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May 2022

Delusion as error: the history of a metaphor

Journal/Book: Hist Psychiat. 2000; 11: Halfpenny Furze-Mill Lane Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, United Kingdom HP8 4NR. Alpha Academic. 3-14.

Abstract: Error has been the major metaphor for understanding delusions through the past three centuries. Modern definition of delusion as erroneous opinion or belief is evidence of the continuing role of this metaphor to this day. However, through long habituation the metaphorical nature of the association between delusion and error is no longer recognized. In other words, the metaphor has become literal and all but invisible. This paper seeks to shed light on this metaphor by tracing its development from inception in the seventeenth century to the present time. Also, the impact of the metaphor on modern research and therapeutic approaches is briefly discussed. Finally, to put the metaphor of error in perspective, some other metaphors applied to delusion over the years are reviewed.

Note: Article Mojtabai R, 200 Haven Ave, Apt 6P, New York,NY 10033 USA

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