Resident A: I am looking for God. Can you help me?
C: Would you like to schedule an appointment with the Chaplain?
Resident B: She doesn’t need no chaplain. I am God.
Resident A (Pointing at Resident C): Oh, there he is.
Resident B: Wait! I am God. Don’t walk away, you woman of little faith!
I don’t know if statistics are available out there but “religious delusions” have to be top 3 in most psychiatric settings. As mental health professionals, we know better than to support delusional beliefs, even if circumstances do not permit or encourage us to challenge them. But there were times when a resident would throw a fit if we did not call him God.
From time to time, we have God, Jesus, Buddha, or the Devil. As much as we can censor ourselves as providers, how much control do we really have over our residents’ beliefs and behaviors? What if it sooths Mrs. A to believe that Mr. C is God and Mr. D is a prophet; and for the latter two to somehow believe that’s who they are?
When we try to redirect or curb these beliefs and behaviors, is it always out of clinical necessicity or our own values and beliefs? How about someone with dementia who believe she is a physician and refuses to cooperate during personal care unless you call her Dr. Jones? Do you try to correct her? Where do you draw the line?