Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The Defensive Function of Persecutory Delusions: Evidence from Attribution Tasks

  • Helen M. Lyon (a1), Sue Kaney (a2) and Richard P. Bentall (a2)
Abstract

Abnormalities of ‘social’ reasoning were investigated in patients suffering from persecutory delusions and in matched depressed and normal controls using transparent (obvious) and opaque (unobvious) tests of attributional style. Whereas depressed and normal subjects yielded similar causal inferences for both attributional measures, the deluded subjects showed a marked shift in internality, attributing negative outcomes to external causes on the transparent Attributional Style Questionnaire but, on the more opaque Pragmatic Inference Task, attributing negative outcomes to internal causes and thus showing a cognitive style resembling that of the depressed group. This finding, interpreted in terms of explicit versus implicit judgements, supports the hypothesis that delusions function as a defence against underlying feelings of low self-esteem.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The Defensive Function of Persecutory Delusions
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The Defensive Function of Persecutory Delusions
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The Defensive Function of Persecutory Delusions
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence
References
Hide All
Abramson L. Y., Seligman M. E. P. & Teasdale J. D. (1978) Learned helplessness in humans: critique and reformulation. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 78, 4074.
Alloy L. B. & Abramson L. Y. (1979) Judgement of contingency in depressed and non-depressed students: sadder but wiser? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 108, 441485.
American Psychiatric Association (1987) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3rd edn, revised) (DSM-III-R). Washington, DC: APA.
Beck A. T. & Beamesderfer A. (1974) Assessment of depression: The depression inventory. In Psychological Measurements in Psychopharmacology 1: Modern Problems in Pharmacopsychiatry. (ed. Pichot P.) Basel: Karger.
Bellack A. S. & Hersen M. (eds) (1988) Behavioural Assessment (3rd edn). Oxford: Pergamon.
Bentall R. P. (1990) The syndromes and symptoms of psychosis: or why you can't play 20 questions with the concept of schizophrenia and hope to win. In Reconstructing Schizophrenia (ed. Bentall R. P.), pp. 2360. London: Routledge.
Bentall R. P. (1994) Cognitive biases and delusional misattributions. In The Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia (eds David A. & Cutting J.). Hove: Erlbaum.
Bentall R. P. & Kaney S. (1989) Content specific processing and persecutory delusions: an investigation using the emotional Stroop test. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 62, 355–64.
Bentall R. P., Kaney S. & Dewey M. E. (1991) Paranoia and social reasoning: an attribution theory analysis. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30, 1323.
Berry D. C. & Broadbent D. E. (1988) Interactive tasks and the implicit-explicit distinction. British Journal of Psychology, 79, 251272.
Blashfield K. (1984) Classification of Psychopathology: Neo-Kraepelin and Empirical Approaches. New York: Plenum.
Brennan J. H. & Hemsley D. R. (1984) Illusory correlations in paranoid and non-paranoid schizophrenia. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 23, 225226.
Brewin C. (1988) Cognitive Foundations of Clinical Psychology. Hove: Erlbaum.
Candido C. & Romney D. M. (1990) Attributional style in paranoid vs depressed patients. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 63, 355363.
Chadwick P. & Lowe C. F. (1990) The measurement and modification of delusional beliefs. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58, 225232.
Chapman L. J. & Chapman J. P. (1988) The genesis of delusions. In Delusional Beliefs (eds Oltmanns T. F. & Maher B. A.), pp. 167183. New York: Wiley.
Costello C. G. (1992) Research on symptoms versus research on syndromes: arguments in favour of allocating more research time to the study of symptoms. British Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 304308.
Ellis H. D. & Young A. W. (1990) Accounting for delusional misidentifications. British Journal of Psychiatry, 157, 239248.
Garety P., Hemsley D. & Wessely S. (1991) Reasoning in deluded schizophrenic and paranoid patients. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 179, 194201.
Grossman L. S. & Harrow M. (1990) Thought disorder and cognitive processes in mania. In Cognitive Bases of Mental Disorders (ed. Magaro P. A.), pp. 134186. New York: Sage.
Harrow M., Rattenbury F. & Stoll F. (1988) Schizophrenic delusions: an analysis of their persistence, of related premorbid ideas and three major dimensions. In Delusional Beliefs (eds Oltmanns T. F. & Maher B. A.), pp. 184211. New York: Wiley.
Hartman L. M. & Cashman F. E. (1983) Cognitive-behavioural and psychopharmacological treatment of delusional symptoms: a preliminary report. Behavioural Psychotherapy, 11, 5061.
Hemsley D. R. & Garety P. A. (1986) The formation and maintenance of delusions: a Bayesian analysis. British Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 5156.
Hewstone M. (1989) Causal Attribution: From Cognitive Processes to Collective Beliefs. Oxford: Blackwell.
Huq S. F., Garety P. A. & Hemsley D. R. (1988) Probabilistic judgements in deluded and non-deluded subjects. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 40A, 801812.
Johnson W. G., Ross J. M. & Mastria M. A. (1977) Delusional behaviour: an attribution analysis of development and modification. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 421426.
Kaney S. & Bentall R. P. (1989) Persecutory delusions and attributional style. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 62, 191198.
Kaney S. & Bentall R. P. (1992) Persecutory delusions and the self-serving bias: evidence from a contingency judgement task. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 180, 773780.
Kaney S., Wolfenden M., Dewey M. E., et al (1992) Persecutory delusions and the recall of threatening and non-threatening propositions. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 31, 8587.
Kendler K. S., Glazer W. M. & Morgenstern H. (1983) Dimensions of delusional experience. American Journal of Psychiatry, 140, 466469.
Kinderman P., Kaney S. & Bentall R. P. (1992) Paranoia and the defensive attributional style: deluded and depressed patients attributions about their own attributions. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 65, 371383.
Kraepelin E. (1919/73) Dementia Praecox and Paraphrenia (trans. Barclay R. M.) Huntington, NY: Kriger.
Maher B. A. (1974) Delusional thinking and perceptual disorder. Journal of Individual Psychology, 30, 98113.
Maher B. A. & Ross J. S. (1984) Delusions. In Comprehensive Handbook of Psychopathology (eds Adams H. E. & Suther P.), New York: Plenum.
Nelson H. E. (1982) National Adult Reading Test Manual. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.
Oltmanns T. F. & Maher B. A. (eds) (1988) Delusional Beliefs. New York: Wiley.
Persons J. B. (1986) The advantages of studying psychological phenomena rather than psychiatric diagnoses. American Psychologist, 41, 12521260.
Peterson C., Semmel A., Von Baeyer C., et al (1982) The Attributional Style Questionnaire. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 6, 287300.
Peterson C. & Villanova P. (1988) An expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 97, 8789.
Power M. & Brewin C. (1991) From Freud to cognitive science: a contemporary account of the unconscious. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30, 289310.
Reber A. S. (1989) Implicit learning and tacit knowledge. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 219235.
Rosenberg M. (1965) Society and the Adolescent Self Image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Sacks O. (1987) The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat. New York: Harper & Row.
Silverstone P. H. (1991) Low self-esteem in different psychiatric conditions. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30, 185188.
Sims A. (1988) Symptoms in the Mind. London: Bailliere Tindall.
Slade P. D. & Bentall R. P. (1988) Sensory Deception: A Scientific Analysis of Hallucination. London: Croom-Helm.
Strauss J. S. (1969) Hallucinations and delusions as points on continua function. Archives of General Psychiatry, 21, 581586.
Tennen H. & Herzberger S. (1985) Attributional Style Questionnaire. In Test Critiques IV. Westport, MO: Test Corporation of America.
Watts F. N., Powell E. G. & Austin S. V. (1973) The modification of abnormal beliefs. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 46, 356363.
Winters K. C. & Neale J. M. (1983) Delusions and delusional thinking: a review of the literature. Clinical Psychology Review, 3, 227253.
Winters K. C. & Neale J. M. (1985) Mania and low self-esteem. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 94, 282290.
Zigler E. & Glick M. (1988) Is paranoid schizophrenia really camouflaged depression? American Psychologist, 43, 284290.
Zuckerman M. (1979) Attribution of success and failure revisited, or the motivational bias is alive and well in attribution theory. Journal of Personality, 47, 245287.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 2 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 19 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 2nd January 2018 - 23rd January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

The Defensive Function of Persecutory Delusions: Evidence from Attribution Tasks

  • Helen M. Lyon (a1), Sue Kaney (a2) and Richard P. Bentall (a2)
Submit a response

eLetters

No eLetters have been published for this article.

×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *