The British Journal of Psychiatry

Summary

We aimed to relate some clinical features of a mental illness (rather than the presence of the illness itself) to social factors; the possible advantages of this method are discussed. We determined (in a sample of hospitalized schizophrenics) the prevalence of delusions of different categories and examined their relation to the patients' age, sex, and some of their social and familial characteristics. Some definite trends emerged:

Delusions with religious or supernatural content were more frequent in persons of higher social status. They were also more frequent in the single than the married.

Grandiose delusions were more frequent in persons of higher social or educational status, and in eldest as compared with youngest siblings. Delusions of inferiority tended to have the opposite distribution.

Paranoid delusions increased in frequency with increasing age of onset. They were more common in “immigrants” to West Sussex than in “natives”; and they were more common in youngest compared with eldest siblings.

Sexual delusions occurred much more often in women than men, and tended to be more common in the married than the single.

Some of these relationships are analysed further, and their implications are discussed.