What is it called when you can’t tell reality from fiction?

Answered by Stephen Mosley

When you can’t distinguish reality from fiction, it is often referred to as a psychotic disorder or episode. This is a condition where a person’s perception of reality becomes significantly altered or distorted. It can be a frightening and confusing experience for those who go through it.

One of the main factors contributing to this confusion is the presence of hallucinations. Hallucinations are false perceptions that can affect any of the five senses. For example, a person may hear voices that aren’t actually there or see things that others can’t see. These hallucinations can be vivid and seem very real to the individual experiencing them, further blurring the line between what is real and what is not.

Delusions are another common component of psychotic disorders. Delusions are false beliefs that are firmly held, despite evidence to the contrary. These beliefs can be incredibly convincing to the person experiencing them, leading them to act in ways that may seem irrational or bizarre to others. Delusions can take many forms, such as believing that one is being persecuted or that they have special powers or abilities.

Disrupted or disorganised thinking is also characteristic of psychotic episodes. Thoughts may become fragmented or illogical, making it difficult for the person to communicate or make sense of their own thinking. This disorganization can further contribute to the confusion and inability to differentiate between reality and fiction.

It’s important to note that psychotic disorders are not a choice or a sign of weakness. They are medical conditions that can be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors. Stress, trauma, and substance abuse can also contribute to the development of psychotic episodes.

Having personally experienced a psychotic episode, I can attest to the overwhelming sense of confusion and fear that comes with not being able to distinguish reality from fiction. During such episodes, it can feel as if the world around you is crumbling and that you are trapped in a distorted version of reality. The hallucinations and delusions can be so vivid and compelling that it becomes nearly impossible to separate them from actual experiences.

In order to help individuals experiencing such episodes, it is crucial to seek professional help. Treatment options for psychotic disorders often include a combination of medication, therapy, and support from loved ones. With the right support and treatment, many people are able to manage their symptoms and regain a sense of stability and clarity in their lives.

When someone cannot tell reality from fiction, it is commonly referred to as a psychotic disorder or episode. This condition involves the presence of hallucinations, delusions, and disrupted thinking, all of which contribute to the distorted perception of reality. Seeking professional help is crucial in order to receive the appropriate treatment and support necessary to navigate through these challenging experiences.