Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Two distinct roles for emotion in the development of delusions have been outlined. Some authors argue that delusions defend against low self-esteem and negative emotion (the delusion-as-defense account). Other authors hypothesize that delusions are not a defense but are a direct reflection of emotion and associated processes (the emotion-consistent account). An empirical investigation was conducted of the delusion-as-defense account with reference to grandiose delusions. Twenty individuals with grandiose delusions and 21 individuals without mental illness were compared on overt and covert measures of self-esteem. No evidence for a discrepancy between overt and covert self-esteem in individuals with grandiose delusions was found. One potential interpretation of the results is that the tasks were not able to penetrate defensive processes. However, we argue that in this group, the grandiose delusions do not currently defend against low self-esteem. Instead, grandiose delusions may in part be direct exaggerations of the emotional state of individuals.

Original publication




Journal article


J Nerv Ment Dis

Publication Date





480 - 487


Adult, Affect, Anxiety Disorders, Cognition Disorders, Defense Mechanisms, Delusions, Depressive Disorder, Emotions, Female, Humans, Intelligence Tests, Male, Mental Disorders, Mental Recall, Models, Psychological, Neuropsychological Tests, Personality Inventory, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Reaction Time, Reading, Self Concept