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Understanding Delusional Thinking: A Scientist-Practitioner Perspective

Dr Emmanuelle Peters: Understanding Delusional Thinking: A Scientist-Practitioner Perspective

“You’re trying to climb rain, Peter, or sweep sun off the pavement”
(Retort from a man with psychosis in conversation with Peter Chadwick, discussing his endeavours to investigate delusions. (Chadwick, 1992; p. xiv))

True delusions are conventionally regarded as being “psychologically un-understandable” (Jaspers, 1913). This view will be challenged on three fronts. Firstly, work into schizotypy has suggested that symptoms of schizophrenia are at the extreme end of a continuum, which ranges from healthy functioning, through eccentricity, to florid psychosis. It will be demonstrated that delusions lie on a continuum with normal beliefs, and that their form may be more important diagnostically than their content. Secondly, several psychological conceptualisations of delusions will be presented, most of which agree that delusions share many characteristics with normal beliefs. Key models emphasise the importance of unusual experiences in driving delusional explanations, the role of appraisals in determining delusional outcome, as well as the presence of reasoning biases such as a “jump-to-conclusions” reasoning style. Experimental support for these models will be presented, in healthy delusion-prone people, undiagnosed individuals with anomalous experiences, and actively deluded patients. Lastly, the therapeutic implications of this work will be discussed in the context of recent developments for cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for psychosis.

Dr Emmanuelle Peters is a Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London. She is the Director of the Psychological Interventions Clinic for Outpatients with Psychosis (PICuP) service, based at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Peters has specialised in psychosis for the last 20 years. She coordinates the Psychosis teaching on the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, and lectures regularly for other mental health professionals. Research interests include: continuity models of mental illness, including the link between psychosis and spirituality; psychological models of psychotic symptoms, specifically delusions and thought disturbances; and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for psychosis.


Dr Emmanuelle Peters | talks | www


Date and Time:

2 February 2010 at 6:00 pm


1 hour



Psychology Seminar Series, Goldsmiths' College
Richard Hoggart Building
New Cross
SE14 6NW
020 7919 7871

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SEMINARS ARE FREE and there is no need to book in advance.

Talks are open to all.

They start at 6:10 PM IN ROOM 256, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths.

For further information, contact Chris French email: c.french@gold.ac.uk).

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