A Logical Defence of Maher’s Model of Polythematic Delusions

Noahs-Ark-delusionEnglish translation of a paper published in French in Philosophiques, autumn 2008, under the title “Une défense logique du modèle de Maher pour les délires polythématiques”.

In this paper, we proceed to describe a model for the formation and maintenance of polythematic delusions encountered in schizophrenia, which is in adequation with Brendan Maher’s account of delusions. Polythematic delusions are considered here as the conclusions of arguments triggered by apophenia that include some very common errors of reasoning such as post hoc fallacy and confirmation bias. We describe first the structure of reasoning which leads to delusions of reference, of telepathy and of influence, by distinguishing between the primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary types of delusional arguments. These four levels of arguments correspond to a stage the nature of which is respectively instantial, inductive, interpretative at a monothematic level and interpretative at a polythematic level. We also proceed to identify accurately the fallacious steps in the corresponding reasoning. We expose then the role of apophenia in the elaboration of delusional ideas. Lastly, we describe the role played by the hallucinations in the present model.

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