Extreme overvalued beliefs

Tahir Rahman, Sarah M. Hartz, Willa Xiong, J. Reid Meloy, Jeffrey Janofsky, Bruce Harry, Phillip J. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


An extreme overvalued belief is shared by others in a person’s cultural, religious, or subcultural group. The belief is often relished, amplified, and defended by the possessor of the belief and should be differentiated from a delusion or obsession. Over time, the belief grows more dominant, more refined, and more resistant to challenge. The individual has an intense emotional commitment to the belief and may carry out violent behavior in its service. Study participants (n = 109 forensic psy-chiatrists) were asked to select among three definitions (i.e., obsession, delusion, and extreme over-valued belief) as the motive for the criminal behavior seen in 12 randomized fictional vignettes. Strong interrater agreement (kappa = 0.91 [95% CI 0.830.98]) was seen for vignettes representing extreme overvalued belief. Vignettes representing delusion and obsession also had strong reliability (kappa = 0.99 for delusion and 0.98 for obsession). This preliminary report suggests that forensic psychiatrists, given proper definitions, possess a substantial ability to identify delusion, obsession, and extreme overvalued belief. The rich historical foundation of extreme overvalued belief and this small survey study highlight the benefit of inclusion of extreme overvalued belief in future glossaries of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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