Symptoms of Psychosis

Positive Symptoms

The following symptoms are called positive symptoms. In this case, the word positive does not mean they are good, but rather that something is present (added) that should not be.
  1. Hallucinations
    These are false perceptions of one or more of the five senses: hearing, seeing, touch, taste or smell. They most often involve hearing noises or voices, such as having one's name called when no one is around or seeing something that is not really there. A person experiences it as real, even though it is not actually happening.

  2. False beliefs or delusions
    A false belief that does not fit with the person's cultural group is known as a delusion. Even though delusions may seem odd or obviously irrational to others, they are held as true by the people who have them. You cannot just talk someone out of a delusion. (See common types of delusions below.)

  3. Confused thinking
    A person who is experiencing psychosis may have trouble thinking clearly or logically and putting her thoughts into words. She may speak in sentences that are jumbled or lose her train of thought when speaking. Sometimes a person experiencing psychosis makes meaningful connections between ideas and events that most other people would not make. She may also have trouble concentrating, following a conversation, thinking abstractly, or remembering new information.


Common Types of Delusions

Ideas of reference

A person may believe she is receiving special messages from the TV, radio, or music. Alternatively, she may believe that colors, words, or other things in the environment have special meaning just for her.

Example: Whenever Jenny sees a blue car, she believes that God is sending her a message to leave school early.

A person may believe that friends, family, government agencies, or others are trying to bother him or harm him even when it is not true.

Example: Andre is convinced that his roommate is trying to poison his food and refuses to eat anything that he does not prepare himself.
Thought broadcasting A person may believe that other people can hear or read her thoughts.

Example: Tamika has been avoiding her friends because she believes they can read her thoughts, especially when she is angry or thinking about something embarrassing.
Thought insertion A person may have thoughts that feel foreign to him and seem as if they have been inserted by an outside force or person.

Example: John has been finding himself thinking of highly offensive comments about women that he would never say out loud. He is convinced that his cell phone is somehow implanting these thoughts in his mind.
Grandiose/religious delusions A person may develop a belief that she has a supernatural power, is famous, or that she is the messiah or a chosen person with a special mission.

Example: Julietta believes that she owns the internet and has been chosen by God to save the world by deciphering codes on web pages.