Internet mind control and the diagnosis of delusions

transmitter_sunset.jpgA recent paper in the medical journal Psychopathology has analysed the links between websites of likely-delusional people who publish their experiences of ‘mind control’ on the internet, and has concluded that they challenge the psychiatric criteria for the diagnosis of delusions.

One of the defining features of a delusion is that it should not be a belief “ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture”. Nevertheless, some researchers have noted that there is no clear measure of what is ‘ordinarily accepted’.

It is also possible that cultures or subcultures could be based around beliefs that would otherwise be diagnosed as delusional. Until now, however, there have been no obvious examples of such subcultures identified.

In the Psychopathology paper, ten websites reporting psychosis-like ‘mind control’ experiences were identified. The reports were anonymised and independently blind-rated by three psychiatrists who confirmed that they reflect experiences stemming from psychosis.

The links between the websites were then analysed using a technique called social network analysis that allows the social network of the authors to be inferred.

This analysis suggested that the authors of the reports were part of a ‘small world‘ social network, based around the content of likely-delusional beliefs (click here to see the network structure in a popup window).

This contradicts the current definition of a delusion, suggesting that it is becoming increasing redundant as technology shapes and re-shapes social networks.

It also suggests that, according to the current definition, anyone can ‘cure’ themselves of a delusion by using the internet to find or form a community of others who share the same belief!

Importantly, however, the researchers make clear that this research does not imply that all of the internet ‘mind control’ community are psychotic, as reports were chosen to specifically reflect psychosis-like experiences.

It is interesting, however, that the identified authors are also likely to be an active part of a wider, non-psychotic community, who may have similar, although differently motivated, concerns.

Link to abstract of study.
PDF of paper.

Disclaimer: This paper is from my own research group.

3 Comments

  1. Posted June 24, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    the author has hidden his or her own cultural bias:
    where the author says “beliefs that would otherwise be diagnosed as delusional”, the word “otherwise” means, “in MY culture or subculture”, or “in the DSM”.

  2. ce 399
    Posted November 30, 2009 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Psychiatry is a 19th century construct of the eugenics movement and industrial capitalism.

  3. Posted May 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    This is a win-win for Dr Vaughan
    professionally. *Fortunately*
    for him and his professional reputation he missed the whole point.

    Many, of these so-called mind control, gang stalking internet sites that are referred to by
    Dr Bell are made by …
    guess who…
    the very people who do the crimes
    these sites purport and pretend
    to be exposing but who make sure they will never do the time b/c they control both ends of the argument.

    Yup, and, of course, there’s no
    proof that the ppl who set up
    these sites are the tortureboy thugs who act with impunity with assistance from the now perfected Microwave Auditory Effect(Wiki)
    (try to ignore the innocuous language from the few available sources)for the remote delivery of voices, and sounds designed
    to scramble, sleep deprive and yes, control the minds of some very unlucky civilians. It is all carried out using frequencies below the hearing abilities of your average human but, alas, not their pets.

    What are the implications of giving a diagnoses of psychosis that isn’t? None. Forgetting
    the patient and his bank account (but only for a second)there can never be any repercussions to
    the physician. It is, ALMOST like the claims of real psychotics, impossible to prove.


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