‘Internet Delusions’: A Case Series and Theoretical Integration

School of Psychology, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.
Psychopathology (Impact Factor: 2.08). 05/2005; 38(3):144-50. DOI: 10.1159/000085845
Source: PubMed


Delusions involving the internet have been reported as examples of the influence of cultural innovations on delusion formation, although there has been some debate as to whether such innovations simply affect surface content, or whether they have more substantial clinical or psychopathological implications.
Four cases of patients with delusions involving the internet were identified following a general request to local consultant psychiatrists for referrals.
The internet had a specific effect on aetiology in one case, and knowledge of the internet seemed to constrain the type of delusion formed in two others. The presence of an internet-related delusion in the final case was used to frame a successful clinical intervention based on the 'collaborative empiricism' method, using cognitive behavioural therapy and collaborative use of the internet to resolve the delusional belief.
Cultural technical innovations may have specific influences on the form, origin and content of delusional beliefs. For some patients the presence of internet-themed delusions may be a good prognostic indicator since, given the rich sources of information available, they may be well suited to treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy.

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    • "The authors classified this as 'perception broadcast,' a term which they coined after noting the involvement of perceptions rather than thoughts, and the lack of direct participation of others. Based on a case series of 'internet' delusions, Bell et al. (2005) also felt that their form, origin and content were influenced by the technology involved, and thus well suited to psycho-educational treatment. "
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    ABSTRACT: Delusions involving technology, and specifically the internet, are increasingly common, and fear-reality statistics suggest computer-related fears are very widespread. These fears form a continuum from the widely understandable and realistic to the unrealistic, and frankly paranoid. The present study investigated the validity of this construct in a non-clinical population by constructing a novel self-report measure. The new Cyber-Paranoia and Fear Scale aims to measure the perception of information technology-related threats originating from or enabled by computers, smartphones, social networks, and digital surveillance. Psychometric properties of the new Cyber-Paranoia and Fear Scale are reported alongside an established measure of suspiciousness and paranoia in 181 participants including a sub-group of fifty information technology professionals. Exploratory factor analysis suggested the presence of two, related, dimensions that we term cyber-paranoia and cyber-fear. Both sub-scales were internally consistent and produced a normal distribution of scores. The relationships of the sub-scales with age, gender, trait paranoia, digital literacy, and digital inclusion are supportive of construct validity. The distinctiveness of 'cyber-paranoia' from general trait paranoia appears to mirror the clinical distinctiveness of 'internet' and other technology-fuelled delusions. Knowledge provision to increase technological proficiency and awareness may bring about a reduction in cyber-paranoia.
    Frontiers in Psychology 11/2014; 5:1298. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01298 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "Ideas derived from a person's broader cultural environment can also lead to a delusion by providing a ready-made account of phenomena. As already noted, for example, there are a range of delusions that incorporate information from specific social and cultural contexts in their content (Hsia and Tsai, 1981; Speak, 1990; Chowdhury, 1996; Tateyama et al., 1998; Stompe et al., 1999; Bell et al., 2005; McNally and Clancy, 2005; Gold and Gold, 2012, 2014), as well as evidence of changing themes in delusions over time (Škodlar et al., 2008; Cannon and Kramer, 2011). In these cases, shared social and cultural ideas bias and shape the search for meaning to produce a pathological belief. "
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    ABSTRACT: Over the past decades, delusions have become the subject of growing and productive research spanning clinical and cognitive neurosciences. Despite this, the nature of belief, which underpins the construct of delusions, has received little formal investigation. No account of delusions, however, would be complete without a cognitive level analysis of belief per se. One reason for this neglect is the assumption that, unlike more established and accessible modular psychological process (e.g., vision, audition, face-recognition, language-processing, and motor-control systems), beliefs comprise more distributed and therefore less accessible central cognitive processes. In this paper, we suggest some defining characteristics and functions of beliefs. Working back from cognitive accounts of delusions, we consider potential candidate cognitive processes that may be involved in normal belief formation. Finally, we advance a multistage account of the belief process that could provide the basis for a more comprehensive model of belief.
    Frontiers in Psychology 01/2014; 5:1588. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01588 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "ot adequately j ustified by supporting evidence may have to take into account that anyone who spends 30 minutes online can find plenty of ' ' j ustifying evidence ' ' , regardless of its validity or source . It is notable , however , that the internet can also be used as a data - gathering tool for use in ' ' reality testing experiments ' ' . Both Bell et al . ( 2005 ) and D uggal et al . ( 2002 ) reported the use of web searches for testing predictions , as part of a successful cognitive behaviour therapy ( CBT ) programme for two individuals who had delusions about the internet . Nevertheless , extreme communities may also focus on more ' ' practical ' ' issues , rather than simply attempting to p"
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