Background: Differences in delusion content have been studied across time periods and in various international samples, with variations reflecting sociocultural influences. A similar analysis of delusion content in an American sample has yet to be reported.
Aims: The current study seeks to contribute to this growing database by reporting delusion content from a sample in the US across a 100-year period.
Methods: Archival medical records of 102 patients hospitalized for psychosis across the 20th century were examined for types of delusion content. Random samples were selected from each decade. All patients were hospitalized at the same state psychiatric facility in the US.
Results: Persecutory was the most common delusion category, followed by religious, somatic and grandiose. Greater frequency of persecutory delusions occurred after 1950. Delusion content also reflected sociocultural factors during the associated time period.
Conclusions: As in most samples internationally, persecutory was the most common delusion type. Delusion content paralleled sociocultural changes, as has been reported in non-American samples.