Insight into delusions vs Intrusive thoughts

What is the difference between having insight into delusions and having intrusive thoughts?

Insight into delusions sounds like a good thing…You have justification for your delusions and realize they are delusions and bad.

Intrusive thoughts…those are something I get when I’m off meds. They are like voices but not auditory but rather they tell me what to do with little control over them. A “feeling” inside of me telling me what to do.


Intrusive thoughts are thoughts you don’t have control over that you don’t want that come into your head (mind). They are usually hurtful.


Intrusive thoughts makes me shake my head to get rid of them. Sometimes I shout STOP!!! They are like voices but thoughts.

Delusions are thoughts that are false or wrong. You can manage them with logic. Such as:

I can communicate telepathically with radiowaves.
No. That is impossible.

Insight is good. Makes life much easier but at the same time it hurts to know things are not working properly in the mind.


Typically, delusions are classified as beliefs. As such, these need not necessarily come in the form of occurrent experiences like intrusive thoughts do. For ordinary beliefs, one can hold and subscribe to a belief without it occurring to the mind in the form of an explicit thought with that content. We all hold many beliefs that we are not constantly aware of, and many that we even have never been aware of. Beliefs have a duration that is independent of what occurs to one’s mind. I may think of one of my beliefs at times, but whenever I stop thinking about it, that on its own will not mean I no longer belief it. Presumably, for delusions being classified as beliefs, these properties transfer to delusions as well.

By contrast, intrusive thoughts are only there when you are aware of them. These are fleeting occurrent experiences. It could be said that intrusive thoughts are necessarily contents of consciousness, whereas delusions are not necessarily so.

Of course, occurring experiences can lead one to belief certain contents. As such, intrusive thoughts could lead one to subscribe to delusions.

I would like to add:

The previous is a pretty much received view of the difference. Yet it seems to me some well documented phenomena in schizophrenia give rise to problems with the standard conception of delusions as beliefs. One of these is the notion you ask about, that of delusions with insight, which is related to the notion of ‘behaviorally inert’ delusions, or, as it is sometimes called, double-bookkeeping (there are topics on the site about this).

For, conceived of as beliefs, the notion of delusions coupled with insight, will have one end up conceiving of the insightful patient straightforwardly believing contradictory beliefs. The queer paradox would be that, whereas delusional patients are often called irrational in a more or less loose sense of the term, patients with insight into their delusions would need to be called irrational in the strictest sense of the term. Something seems awry there. I am inclined to think that the belief-conception of delusion runs into problems there, and that, at least in quite some cases, it would be clearer to conceptualize the core of delusions as occurrent experiences, indeed, like an intrusive thought.

Such a way of thinking about delusions is not new. Though not following the line of argument above,German psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers had a similar way of classifying delusions about a 100 years ago. Key terms for further reading would be: Jaspers, Primary Delusion, Delusional Ideas.

after finding out what intrusive thoughts were, and realizing they’re normal for sz, I was kind of terrified bc before I knew I explained it as a whole completely different thought process controlled by somebody else, bc I wasn’t the one who had control over it. I only have control over MY thoughts.