A CORK psychologist who helped a patient who believed he was Jesus Christ says it's wrong to label every person with delusions as mentally ill.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Tony Humphreys, said delusions can be a creative form of survival and over the years he has supported a number of men and women turn their lives around.
One of his most fascinating case studies focused on a man who had been preaching the word of God while claiming to be Jesus Christ.
"I introduced myself as Tony and thanked him for coming," Dr Humphreys said.
"He said that he was Jesus Christ.
"I just took his hand and said 'welcome Jesus'.
"Anytime he had said that before, the men in white coats had been called for. Now, he was sitting there on the edge of his seat asking 'do you really believe I'm Jesus Christ?'"
Dr Humphreys described the encounter.
"When I asked him what he gained from being Jesus Christ, he replied 'recognition'.
"However, when I questioned what he gained from being himself he told me 'anonymity'.
"He hadn't made the connection until I asked him those two questions.
"I asked if I could shake his hand. How heroic, ingenious and creative that in a world where he was anonymous he chose the best-known person in the world to be. He found a way to be visible in a world where he had previously been invisible."
The clinical psychologist said that most of the man's issues came down to feeling invisible.
"All he wanted was to be seen, but instead he was dismissed as mentally ill for 10 years.
"I assured him that I saw him for himself. Some people get seen through addictions. Others experience hallucinations. I don't see people as having mental illnesses. I see them as having stories.
"People come to us with delusions, anxiety and hallucinations. If we tell them they are suffering from a mental illness it will only result in them feeling abandoned again," he said.
He spoke of how delusions can be a coping mechanism for those struggling with unresolved adverse childhood experiences.
"We all wear masks. It's hard to imagine living in a world where you are anonymous.
"It would be very painful to wake up every morning in a world where you feel invisible. This is the reason why people unconsciously find a way to be seen.
"If it's relationships that send people into hiding its relationships that will bring them out of hiding again. They are central to helping people who feel so majorly abandoned."
Dr Humphreys explained that coping mechanisms present themselves in many forms.
"I must have met every possible kind of human suffering at this stage. People find the most amazing ways of surviving.
"I often tell the young people I deal with that they are my heroes and heroines. It's remarkable what they have survived. My goal is to help them go from surviving to living.
"The longest and most exciting journey is the journey inwards. That creative method they used to survive can now be used for living."
He said that suffering is often passed down through generations.
"Human suffering isn't genetic, it's generational.
"If we haven't had the opportunities to examine our lives we bring the hurts from our own childhoods. This can extend into our parenting in a number of ways whether it takes the form of perfectionism, irritability, or other protective behaviours."