A thin line exists between denial and delusional thinking. The difference between the two involves the dismissal of truth and a belief in something that’s blatantly false. Denial is a product of the subconscious designed to protect our psychological equilibrium and reduce the stress of an unacceptable reality. It often gives us time to absorb and assimilate an uncomfortable fact that, when we allow ourselves to think about it for just a second, floods our system with such powerful emotions that our coping abilities are overwhelmed and essentially deactivated.
On the other hand, delusional beliefs don’t deny something. Instead, delusions affirm the validity of an unsubstantiated belief. A sign of a deeper mental illness, delusional thinking typically revolves around beliefs that the individual is being watched, attacked or controlled by certain entities such as extraterrestrials or government spies. Although someone holding a delusional belief cannot provide a rational answer for their belief, it’s difficult to get them to change their mind, even when they’re confronted with hard, factual evidence.