The Reality of Persecutory Beliefs: Base Rate Information for Clinicians

Brown, Seth A.
November 2008
Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry;Fall2008, Vol. 10 Issue 3, p163
Academic Journal
When an individual describes persecution, how does one know whether this constitutes reality or a delusion? An erroneous clinical decision can lead to unnecessary treatment or lack of appropriate treatment. Knowledge of base rates of relevant events can inform the decision-making process and potentially increase the accuracy of clinical judgments. This article reviews base rates of events that could be perceived as delusions as well as the correlates associated with these events. Commonly occurring events include discrimination, mental illness stigma, criminal victimization, infidelity, conspiracy beliefs, and stalking. Surveillance and intentional poisoning are rare events. Clinicians who possess accurate base rates of events and their correlates will likely engage in more informed and accurate clinical judgments.


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