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#15454 - 01/12/01 07:08 AM Illusion vs. Delusion
joelsephus Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 15
Loc: North Carolina, USA
In my personal studies in philosophy I have come across a the words "illusion" and "delusion" quite a few times, and for my own interests I would like to figure out how they may be distinguished more precisely. For quite a while I had been looking for a word that captures the idea of believing in something simply because you want to believe it, regardless of whether or not it is true. This must be distinguished from simply believing in something that in actuality is or isn't true. Then I ran across the word "illusion" used in this way by Freud on a number of occasions, and he distinguishes the word in the same way from being what he calls "delusion". So I went to the sacred OED, and in spite of my diligent searching, I could not find support for Freud's use of the word in this manner. I am hoping that one of you linguiphiles out there may be able to help me out here. I would love to adopt this sense of the word for my own usage, but I do not want to confuse or frustrate every reader who may read my work in the future. So tell me, is Freud the only one who has used these words in this way? Even if he is, I'm afraid I'll still have to adopt this usage, because I can't find any other word that captures the idea so well.



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#15455 - 01/12/01 07:20 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
Chickie Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 35
If I have the definition of this correctly interpreted, I "see" an "illusion" as something "visual". An oxymoron perhaps. Whereas, a delusion is something of a mental nature in terms of "belief". Perhaps Freud didn't consult his dictionary?
eg: A paranoid person is deluded.
A person in the desert seeing a mirage sees an illusion.
Very early in the morning here for me so perhaps I'm also deluded.

"Adversity is the whetstone of creativity"

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#15456 - 01/12/01 07:49 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
joelsephus Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 15
Loc: North Carolina, USA
It's true, Chickie, that "illusion" is most often associated with visual sensory input. But it can also be used in a figurative sense in the same way that "delusion" is used. For instance, you might say, "Law creates the illusion of order."
But what I'm really looking for is something that captures the idea of beliefs which are the result of desires. For example, in the film The Matrix, the character Neo says at one point that he doesn't believe in fate, and when asked why, he replies, "because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life". His belief here is dictated by his desires rather than what he perceives to be true. This is the sense in which I would like to use the word "illusion".
As for whether or not Freud consulted his dictionary in this case, I think that if there really is no other word that captures this idea, then "illusion" is a better word than any I can think of to adopt for this usage - especially with such a nice counterpart as "delusion" to play it off of.


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#15457 - 01/12/01 10:48 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
Solamente, Doug. Offline
member

Registered: 12/16/00
Posts: 130
Loc: Virginia
Joel says:
For quite a while I had been looking for a word that captures the idea of believing in something simply because you want to believe it, regardless of whether or not it is true.

May I suggest the word "faith".


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#15458 - 01/12/01 10:59 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
Capital Kiwi Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 3146
Loc: Northamptonshire, England
Hi there, and welcome both of you to the board.

I googled "delusion" and found that (a) most dictionaries see illusion and delusion as synonymous and (b) that delusion is also a specialist psychiatric term which is still considered to be synonymous with illusion.

It seems that no one agrees with Freud. Of course, my mental sidewalk is a bit dewy this early in the morning, I'm wearing my wife's petticoat and it could all just be a Freudian slip.

_________________________
The idiot also known as Capfka ...

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#15459 - 01/12/01 11:00 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
Bobyoungbalt Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
Welcome Joelsephus. Interesting name. Not, I hope, related to Flavius?

As to your question, I would think you would find an answer in the philosophy of Bishop Berkeley. [hope I spelled that right -- it's been near 40 years since I studied philosophy.]



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#15460 - 01/12/01 11:05 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
Chickie Offline
newbie

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 35
Hmmm...then I still see "illusion" as different from "delusion", as you describe it. He is having a "visual" image in his mind, he is not "deluded", as in having paranoid thoughts. Does this make sense? I believe it's correctly used, as you quoted it.

"Adversity is the whetstone of creativity"

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#15461 - 01/12/01 11:16 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
joelsephus Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/12/01
Posts: 15
Loc: North Carolina, USA
Hi Bob, thanks for the note. It's been a little over a year since the last time I read any of Berkeley's writings, but I remember really enjoying what I read. What specifically did you have in mind that you think would fit this idea in his writings?


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#15462 - 01/12/01 11:17 AM Re: Bishop Berkeley
tsuwm Online   confused
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10523
Loc: this too shall pass
There was a young man who said, "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."

"Westward the course of empire takes its way."

--this, of course, led to the naming of Berkeley, CA.

-joe (to exist is one thing, to be perceived is another) friday


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#15463 - 01/12/01 11:19 AM Re: Illusion vs. Delusion
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11609
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
most dictionaries see illusion and delusion as synonymous

Okay, I can't stand this any longer. But first, welcome,
Joel.

In my book, if someone is experiencing an illusion, it may
eventually be proven that that belief was correct. If someone is delusional, that means that it is known that this belief is incorrect.

Perhaps perspective plays a part here. If a person is thinking or speaking of himself, he may not make the
distinction between the two, since he believes it in any case. Though there are instances where a person "knows" in some way that a certain belief is incorrect, but continues to adhere to it anyway.

Delusion is more commonly applied by persons other than the one who is having it.

Example: I come home from school with the illusion that I have done well on a test. If I find I did in fact get a good grade, then my illusion turned out to be correct.

If I come home saying I did well on the test, even though
I put wild guesses for answers, that is a delusion.


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