What is a Delusional Attachment?
A delusional attachment (DA) is a term that psychotics have coined as an alternative to the term 'Identity Delusion', in which someone believes that they are another 'being' than they actually are, whether that be a real person, a fictional character, a nonhuman creature, an object, etc. The term and experience of having a DA is exclusive to those who experience Psychosis!
Delusional attachments can be constant/recurrent, or they can be episodic.
Where did this term originate?
The term 'Delusional Attachment' itself was coined by the psychotic community and is not a medical term. It seems to be an alternative term for an Identity Delusion, likely made as there is little information online about Identity Delusions and Grandiose Delusions in general, despite Grandiose Delusions being relatively common amongst psychotics.
The term was originally coined by twitter user @swaggotfan, although I have been unable to find any archive links to the original post. I have also seen people attributing the coining to @lgbtdni on twitter, but I do not know if these are the same person. @swaggotfan has a history of racism, harassment, and ableism, and has been accused of racefaking, although I've been unable to find a source for the latter.
More info on @swaggotfan
Who is @swaggotfan?
@swaggotfan is a user on Twitter who is attributed to the coining of the term Delusional Attachment. They were accused of many things, causing many people to not want to use the term.
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@swaggotfan has been accused of racefaking, however I've been unable to find screenshots of such.
What is Psychosis?
“Psychosis is a condition that affects the way your brain processes information. It causes you to lose touch with reality. You might see, hear, or believe things that aren’t real. Psychosis is a symptom, not an illness. A mental or physical illness, substance abuse, or extreme stress or trauma can cause it.” (source)
What causes Psychosis?
Psychosis can be a result of trauma,
substance use, physical illness or injury (such as traumatic brain injuries, brain tumors, strokes, HIV and some brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia), and mental health conditions. (source)
What mental health / neurological conditions can cause Psychosis?
Any condition on the schizophrenic or psychotic spectrum (source)
Any condition on the schizotypal or schizoid spectrum (source)
Severe depression (source)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (source)
Bipolar Disorder (source)
Autism with comorbid psychotic symptoms (source)*
*note: Autism does not cause psychosis itself, but psychotic symptoms are found to be a comorbidity along with Autism.
How can I help my friend(s) with Delusional Attachments?
Do not reality check them without asking permission. Reality Checks consist of telling your friend that they are not the subject of their delusional attachment. (reality check info + how to ask for permission)
Do not tag or refer to anyone else as the subject of your friend's delusional attachment, unless your friend says otherwise.
If your friend wants to stop having a delusional attachment, I do have an advice section here; please note however, that it can be quite hard to stop having specific delusions, especially without professional help.
How can I stop having a Delusional Attachment?
This section is compiled from resources I've found in medical journals, as well as general advice from the psychotic community. If you can, it is recommended to get professional psychiatric help when trying to cease having delusions.
Distance yourself from the source of your DA; for example, if one has a DA to a fictional character, stop consuming the source material. Likewise, if one has a DA to an angel, stop consuming or surrounding yourself with angel related things.
Stop acting on your delusion. Stop buying merchandise based around your DA, stop interacting with a community surrounding your DA (ex: a fandom, a nonhuman community, etc), and stop referring to yourself as your DA.
Distance yourself from the Psychotic community. Not everyone is in recovery, and being around others who may actively 'feed in' to a delusion will not be helpful.
If you feel comfortable, ask to be reality checked when entering into a delusional state. It is also possible to reality check yourself.
Attempt to figure out why you have said DA; whether it evolved from seemingly nothing, or it evolved from an attachment to something, try to figure out where it came from.
Besides these, psychiatric help is always recommended.