Psychiatry & Psychology--General/delusions

Advertisement


Question
Hi, My son is 18 years old and for the past three months he has been claiming he is an atheist.He seems kind of obsessive with atheism and posts everyday on his facebook page about how there is ignorance in religion, and his posts and views are starting to get others mad. I asked him about his postings on facebook and he claims he is just passionate about atheism. I am wondering if this is considered a delusion. His father has religious delusions and is on medication. My son also shows signs of aspergers.

Answer
Hi, Gwen, thanks for your question. You asked, "I am wondering if this is considered a delusion".

The answer is no, it isn't a delusion. There are many atheists in the world, ranging from about 10% overall to as many as 82% in Sweden. I would be difficult indeed to say that the entire country of Sweden was suffering from delusions.

Besides, the definition of delusion includes the requirement that the belief that be proven wrong, and the believer still holds fact to the belief. For example, believing that one is Jesus Christ, despite the fact that Jesus died long ago, would be a delusion. Another delusion might be that God is sending personal messages, specific to them, thru the TV.

Another requirement, for any mental disorder, is that it must negatively impact significant areas of their life, or be very distressing to them. So, for example, if his belief system prevents him from working, or gets him fired from several jobs, only then could it be a mental disorder. Or, if he is very upset that he does not believe in God, then it would be appropriate for counseling.

Young adults experiment, or 'try on' many different things, so this behavior could actually be normal. You apparently don't like it or don't approve - that seems clear by your choice of words ("he has been claiming"). But, he's 18 now, legally an adult. And in our country, we have what's called 'freedom of religion', which means that all adults are allowed to believe whatever we want about religion, and the rest of us should be accepting of those beliefs. In fact, that's the only way you can be assured of your right to be a Christian, and your neighbor can worship Mohammed.

In fact, it is quite possible that the less accepting you are of his choices, the stronger they will become. You see, the job of a young adult is to separate from their parents, to find their own way in life. Each child finds their own unique way to reject their parents, but it does not necessarily mean that he's going to stay that way. It certainly does not mean that he's been possessed by the devil, and it likely is not a mental illness.

Your child is going to make a lot of mistakes, now that he's an adult, and you will be powerless to protect him. I think it's OK to tell him how you feel and what you believe, but it would be better to treat him like any other adult friend, and not like a child. Truth is, even if this were a mental illness, you cannot legally do anything about it now. No, your job as a mother has long ended. It's time to begin a new stage with your son.

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Bruce Borkosky, Psy.D.

Expertise

any related to psychology, especially related to forensic psychology

Experience

15 years as a licensed psychologist, 15 years in private practice. My practice began primarily doing individual and group psychotherapy, is now devoted to assessments, but I occasionally do take on clients in therapy.

Organizations
American Psychological Association

Education/Credentials
B.A. psychology, B.A., music, Ohio Wesleyan U., 1978 MCS, computer science, University of Dayton, 1984 MA, psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1991 Psy.D., psychology, Miami Inst. of Psychology, 1993 post doctoral training in Neuropsychology, Fielding Institute, 1995-1997

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.