June 21, 1984
Some people may seem completely normal in behavior unless certain subjects are brought up in the course of a conversation, or unless some stimulus in the environment arouses them.
For instance, the individual might be talking along normally enough when he or she hears the sirens of a police car in the distance. Instantly the person might leap up, convinced that that was evidence of the pursuit of the FBI or other agency.
The car with the siren might disappear, yet the alarmed person’s attitude and actions may very well instantly cause his or her companion to realize that something was clearly amiss. The disturbed person may immediately begin a long tirade, describing pervious episodes in which he or she was hunted from city to city. There may be further complications, in which the person insists that phones were bugged, letters opened, and privacy was constantly invaded.
This might be the very first sign to the person’s companion that anything was wrong at all. In most such instances the tirade will continue for some time, while in other far lesser episodes it might instead simply leap to disordered, confused thoughts about being so pursued. Or instead, the individual might embark upon a rather heated discussion of police forces in general.
In actuality, people in those circumstances are often so frightened of the use of power that the idea of being under constant surveillance actually lends them a sense of protection.
The point is, that in such circumstances the person will try to use evidence from the outside world to provide that he is indeed being pursued.
In the same fashion, the person who hallucinates the voice of God or a demon actually does so to preserve the idea of sanity in his own mind. As long as he or she believes that a god or demon is involved, then the person can consider the entire affair most extraordinary, decidedly apart from usual experience, but valid.
If the therapist tries to convince such a person that the hallucinated personage does not exist, then this threatens the person’s concepts of personal sanity.