Ideas of reference or delusions of reference involve a person feeling that unrelated, innocuous or irrelevant aspects of the world are referring to them directly or have special significance intended for them personally.

In their strongest form, they are considered to be a sign of mental illness and form part of a delusional, paranoid or psychotic illness (such as schizophrenia or delusional disorder).

They may include experiences such as:

  • feeling that people on television or radio are talking about, or talking directly to you
  • believing that headlines or stories in newspapers are written especially for you
  • having the experience that people (often strangers) drop hints or say things about you behind your back
  • believing that events (even world events) have been deliberately contrived for you, or have special personal significance
  • seeing objects or events as being deliberately set-up to convey a special or particular meaning

See also