259. Rethinking Delusions with Victoria Sheperd

Delusional beliefs have a long and varied history, with false beliefs ranging from those as minor as imposter syndrome to those as significant as thinking we are dead or decapitated. Victoria Shepherd, author of A History of Delusions, has dedicated her career to exploring the history of fixed false beliefs and the context in which false beliefs can develop. On this episode of POTC, she and Yael discuss the importance of understanding the function of delusions within social context. Join us in this episode for practical advice on caring for loved ones who experience delusions, evidence-based methods of being compassionate towards yourself and others when dealing with delusional beliefs, and much, much more, today!

Listen and Learn:

  • Yael and Jill’s take on delusional thinking and fixed false beliefs
  • The importance of understanding the functionality of delusions within a context
  • Practical advice for caring for loved ones who experience delusions
  • Common delusions we all frequently experience
  • Three ways delusions might be helpful for distressed individuals
  • Expert-approved strategies for becoming more aware of your own delusional thinking and managing overwhelm and uncertainty 
  • How the human desire for agency over a situation plays into delusional thinking
  • Some of the experiences of the intriguing characters in Victoria’s book!
  • Perceptions of individuals in power that influence widely held beliefs 
  • How biological causes contribute to delusions
  • Evidence-based methods of being compassionate towards yourself and others when dealing with delusional beliefs


About Victoria Shepherd:

Victoria Shepherd, a born and bred south Londoner, has an M.A. from the University of East Anglia in creative writing. She’s an experienced audio producer for BBC Radio making documentaries and podcasts, and her short film documentary, 2 Princelet Street, was selected by the National Film School Docs program. Many of her documentaries can be found on BBC Sounds, and recent highlights include: ‘A History of Delusions’, presented by Professor Daniel Freeman (co-produced by Eve Streeter), ‘The Glass Delusion’, presented by Adam Phillips; ‘A History of the Future’, and ‘Experiments in Living’ presented by Juliet Gardiner; ‘This Old Heart of Mine’ presented by Giles Fraser, ‘A Natural History of the Banker’ presented by Andrew Ross Sorkin, ‘The Periodic Table’ presented by Chris Addison; ‘Headstrong and Proud’ presented by Michael Crick, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, presented by Salman Rushdie. Learn more about her work here, and buy her book A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband, and a Walking Corpse now!

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Episode 259