The following can indicate a delusion:[5] (From Wikipedia, but pretty much like standard)
The patient expresses an idea or belief with unusual persistence or force.
That idea appears to exert an undue influence on the patients life, and the way of life is often altered to an inexplicable extent.
Despite his/her profound conviction, there is often a quality of secretiveness or suspicion when the patient is questioned about it.
The individual tends to be humorless and oversensitive, especially about the belief.
There is a quality of centrality: no matter how unlikely it is that these strange things are happening to him, the patient accepts them relatively unquestioningly.
An attempt to contradict the belief is likely to arouse an inappropriately strong emotional reaction, often with irritability and hostility.
The belief is, at the least, unlikely, and out of keeping with the patient's social, cultural and religious background.
The patient is emotionally over-invested in the idea and it overwhelms other elements of their psyche.
The delusion, if acted out, often leads to behaviors which are abnormal and/or out of character, although perhaps understandable in the light of the delusional beliefs.
Individuals who know the patient observe that the belief and behavior are uncharacteristic and alien.

Why do religions and cultural groups get the exemption? A mental disorder is only a disorder in particular contexts?

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but isn't calling it a community simply because they share the same delusion begging the question?

It is obviously still a delusion if multiple people hold to it.  It does not matter how many adherents there are.  


The summary of a delusion is absolutely perfect in representing what and how the religious behave in their belief. 


When a pastor in a Maryland congregation preaches that Christians in America are being persecuted for their beliefs because a billboard is put up that questions the validity of their beliefs ... there is no defending it.  It is purely a delusion perpetuated through the group.  It's solidity is finally formed when the delusion should not (and most of the time cannot!) be questioned.  


How can it NOT be a delusion when the major majority of a religion believes they are being persecuted when the smallest minority in the country (Atheists) speak openly and honestly?  It made me sick listening to this Pastor preach this nonsense.  Every member of the church was sitting there in such delight hearing this message.  Anything can be said if it makes a Christian feel like he is living the life of Christ ... to hell with everything else Jesus said and did.  If you can make yourself feel persecuted , you can make yourself believe anything.  

Being a delusion and being a disorder are different.  The DSM addresses mental health issues, not errant thought patterns.

sadly, if we dont let religion have freedom, we wont have any freedom either in this point in time.

Totally disagree.  Normal is a product of cultural frequency.  It doesn't matter if it is right or wrong.  Unhealthy behavior is that which occurs contrary to acceptable cultural norm.  The DSM isn't concerned with accuracy of belief, but rather mental health.

The DSM isn't designed to address cultural differences, and the APA and the ACA and all the other organizations find it unethical to try to change clients away from potentially harmful cultural differences based on other things such as delusions of appropriate gender roles, ect.

Yes, they are, but as a student of the behavioral sciences, I can tell you that they do this because their concern is not accuracy, but rather real mental illness.  Someone being incorrect about a position does not make them mentally ill.

The way one textbook of mine stated it is "painting yourself blue and standing and screaming for hours" is not normative in many places, but at a football game it is not abnormal behavior.  If someone painted themselves blue and ran around the street during work hours screaming, we might use that abnormal behavior to help us determine if there is a disorder.

I think you misread what I said.  Cultural norms are valuable in determining whether something is believed on account of culture, or believed as a result of a dysfunction.  We do not currently classify "Belief perseverance" as a disorder, but rather a phenomenon.  The DSM is concerned with dysfunction, and possessing normative beliefs is indicative of no discernable disfunction.

Sorry, I almost forgot to answer that last question.  Your use of delusion diagnoses all of humanity with delusion.  Delusion is the natural state of mankind, due to mankind having a singular vantage point with which to absorb data.  It is like the blind men and the elephant story.  Any time you are wrong about something you are deluded, but that is not the same kind of delusion that the DSM is concerned about. 

The short answer to the OP is that while it looks like it fits, it really only does it because it is being used out of context with the overarching ideology of the DSM.  Someone qualified to use it will understand how to interpret it better.   This is why they tell students like me, that we are NOT to use the DSM to go off diagnosing people we know, because we don't know how to use it right yet. 

You're right, the DSM is more like guidelines than rules. 

But with this delusion thing, I think Liz's point explains the concept best.  I don't think it is as much a flaw in the process than belief systems are not the type of delusions that are being addressed in the DSM.  It doesn't exempt them from delusion status, but they are exempt from mental illness delusions.  It just isn't worded well.  It kind of implies meaning rather than stating meaning. 

Interesting that there is an exemption for religion. Technically I guess I suffer from a disorder, GID, since I am transgender. I have thought long and hard about whether I am deluded, only to conclude that I am not. This is based not just on a great deal of introspection, but also on scientific research showing that the brains of trans people (MTF) match those of natal females in the gender dimorphic regions. Now there is certainly some evidence to suggest that there are "spiritual" areas of the brain, but this is quite different to showing that god is real. I can totally acept that someone's spiritual feelings are genuine, but I think the evidence suggests that the cause is physical and located in the brain. It seems that the "out of keeping with the patient's social, cultural and religious background" seems to be the escape clause which lets the deeply religious off the disorder hook!


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