11 episodes

Experimental psychologist Daniel Freeman explores cases of delusion.

A History of Delusions BBC

    • Health & Fitness
    • 5.0, 12 Ratings

Experimental psychologist Daniel Freeman explores cases of delusion.

    The Future

    The Future

    Psychologist Professor Daniel Freeman concludes his exploration of delusions, looking at both historic and contemporary case studies.

    In the final programme he examines the latest thinking on the causes of and treatment for delusional thinking.

    Daniel looks at the latest research suggesting delusions are part of a continuum in the general population, the impact of societal effects, and how delusions give us the chance to understand beliefs in general. He finds out how far delusions are hereditary, and the role played by poor sleep patterns. And we eavesdrop on a trial in Daniel's cutting edge virtual reality laboratory, where people with lived experience of delusions are helping him develop our understanding and treatment of this overlooked aspect of human experience.

    Produced by Victoria Shepherd and Eve Streeter
    A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    Delusions of the body

    Delusions of the body

    Clinical psychologist Professor Daniel Freeman explores cases of delusions - strongly held, preoccupying false beliefs.

    In this series he unearths case studies from the archives dating back to the Renaissance, he meets people who have recently experienced delusions, and finds out about new thinking in this relatively little-known field from psychologists and psychiatrists.

    Distressing concerns about the body often feature in the content of delusions. Although unusual examples, Renaissance case studies of people who believed they had frogs living in their belly or that they are made out of glass or butter can be viewed as hypochondriacal delusions. In hypochondriacal delusions people erroneously believe that their body is unhealthy, rotten, or diseased.

    But there are also people who are unaware at first that they do have a physical illness and that it is a physical illness that is leading to delusions.

    Daniel meets Sarah, who shares her story.

    Produced by Victoria Shepherd and Eve Streeter
    A Greenpoint Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    Intensive care delirium

    Intensive care delirium

    Clinical psychologist Professor Daniel Freeman continues his exploration of delusions, looking at both historic and contemporary case studies.

    In this programme he hears a case from 1892, of a patient at the Victorian psychiatric hospital Bethlem in London who believed that people were telephoning into her ears. And he meets a man who experienced delusions of being dead and under attack as a consequence of being in a hospital intensive care unit.

    Produced by Victoria Shepherd and Eve Streeter
    A Greenpoint Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    Grand Passions

    Grand Passions

    Psychologist and therapist Professor Daniel Freeman explores the history of delusions - strongly held, preoccupying false beliefs – with cases from the archives and first-hand testimonies from people who have experienced delusional thinking. Conversations usually confined to the clinic room.

    In recent years, delusions have started to emerge as a field of study in their own right, and Daniel has been at the forefront of new research and treatment for the past 20 years. His aim is to make delusions more understandable and explicable.

    In this programme Daniel hears how in 1921, Gaetan Gatien De Clerambault, a French psychiatrist, published a landmark paper detailing the delusion that became commonly known as ‘erotomania’. The case study featured ‘Lea Anne B’ a 53-year-old milliner who became convinced that the English King George V was in love with her.

    And a contemporary contributor shares her experience of the belief that she had to save the world from the Millennium Bug.

    Produced by Victoria Shepherd and Eve Streeter
    A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    Capgras: the 'Illusion of Doubles'

    Capgras: the 'Illusion of Doubles'

    Clinical psychologist Professor Daniel Freeman explores historic and contemporary cases of delusions – a belief that is impossible, incredible or false; is held with a high degree of certainty; and endures despite evidence to the contrary.

    In this programme he examines the 'Capgras Delusion' or the 'Illusion of Doubles'.

    In 1923 the French psychiatrist Joseph Capgras first described the delusion which later took his name. The case study concerned his patient, Madame M, who claimed that her husband and children had been substituted for doubles.

    Daniel also talks to a contemporary contributor who shares her experience of a delusion that she was in a reality show.

    Produced by Victoria Shepherd and Eve Streeter
    A Greenpoint Production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min
    A Paranoid Conspiracy: James Tilly Matthews and the Air Loom Gang

    A Paranoid Conspiracy: James Tilly Matthews and the Air Loom Gang

    Clinical psychologist Daniel Freeman explores cases of delusion from the archives and speaks to people who have experienced them first-hand.

    In this programme, Daniel examines the most common type of delusion – paranoia. The incorrect belief that others are observing you and may be trying to harm you.

    Occasionally in the archives, cases emerge that allow us to see what such a delusion might have meant on an existential level for a person suffering from it. One of them is the case of James Tilly Matthews. A London tea broker who was committed to Bethlem psychiatric hospital in 1797, Tilly Matthews became convinced of an elaborate conspiracy involving the British establishment and a mind-controlling machine called the Air Loom. He is considered to be the first fully documented case of paranoid schizophrenia.

    Developing the understanding and treatment of paranoia has been the focus of Daniel's work as a clinical psychologist at the University of Oxford. Deciding whether to trust or mistrust is a vital aspect of human cognition, but accurate judgment of others’ intentions is often challenging. At a cultural level, a fear of others is variably connected to the political and social climate.

    At the heart of the severest paranoia - persecutory delusions - is the unfounded belief in an ongoing threat from others. In people seen in clinical services with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, the fears can also be provoked by hearing negative voices (auditory hallucinations).

    Daniel meets Toby, who volunteered to share his own experience of a paranoid delusion, and the isolation that takes hold as a consequence.

    Produced by Victoria Shepherd and Eve Streeter
    A Greenpoint production for BBC Radio 4

    • 14 min

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12 Ratings

12 Ratings

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