The psychiatrist delusion

My attention was caught by a recently published case study in which a patient with psychosis had the delusion that he was a psychiatrist:

“This 44-year-old single man was first admitted at the age of 27, with a two-week history of hyperactivity and decreased need for sleep. He described a feeling of well-being and believed he was a famous psychiatrist.”

I’ve met several such patients in my time working in mental health and from talking to other professionals I suspect its not uncommon. Hence, I’d be interested in tracking down other published cases of the delusion.

However, it’s very difficult to search for these cases using online databases because lots of articles have the terms ‘delusion’ and ‘psychiatrist’ in them even when they’re not describing this particular form of psychosis.

I’m keen to see if this delusion is widely documented in the scientific literature or whether it has been brushed under the carpet perhaps due to its obvious irony.

So, I need your help.

If you know of any published cases of people who have the delusion that they are a psychiatrist please add a link or reference in the comments below, drop me an email through this form, or contact me on Twitter here.

Link to locked case study mentioned above.
Link to DOI entry for same.

8 thoughts on “The psychiatrist delusion”

  1. WordPress wiped out my original post because of a typo in my email. Here is an attempt to recreate it.

    You may find some of the articles cited here to be helpful:
    Grandiose delusions: A review and theoretical integration of cognitive and affective perspectives.Detail Only Available Knowles, Rebecca; McCarthy-Jones, Simon; Rowse, Georgina; Clinical Psychology Review, Vol 31(4), Jun, 2011. pp. 684-696. [Journal Article]

    I searched for this in PsychInfo. Found this by searching Delusion AND Grandiose. Had no luck searching for any of these: Delusion AND Grandiose AND Psychiatrist; Grandiose AND Psychiatrist; either of the above using Doctor or Medical instead of Psychiatrist.

    If you send me the citation (title, authors, journal title) for the original article, I may be able to locate it and use that info to track down something else. Good luck – sounds like an interesting topic.

  2. If I’m not mistaken, one of the Three Christs of Ypsilanti, on being confronted with the other inpatients, briefly developed the delusion that he was a psychiatrist.

  3. No case publication I’m afraid, but an anecdote. Once had a patient who believed he was a Doctor, and in particular a surgeon. He stated, that as a surgeon he “outranked” me as a psychiatrist, and therefore my diagnosis was false.

    Quite interesting – and no doubt a belief shared by a number of true surgical colleagues?

  4. Are you sure that this is not a wind up? Psychiatrists don’t havae a 100% success rate when it comes to identifying psychosis and I’m not convinced from the detail given so far that this person is psychotic. This whole performance could be this person’s way of playing some kind of hoax on the psychiatrist.

    All that said my favourite film on this theme is Zelig by Woody Allen. The Woody character starts copying the behaviour of any person he meets, psychiatrists included.

  5. rather awsome topic, but think of rosenhan’s experiments, then you surley dispose of those weird arguments. of course you can state s.o. as ill-minded or behaving as under dellusion. it is rather a question of how you decide who tells the truth: fool or doctor – savants? who exactly can tell? it is just and unjust that we do believe the sum of all meanings from what we know. who
    knows better?

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