Top 10 Shocking Cases Of Delusional Behavior


A delusion is a belief that is either mistaken or not substantiated. It is held with a strong feeling and opinion. In psychiatry, delusions occur as the result of mental illness. In most cases, delusional behavior will cause an individual to experience bizarre social interactions. A small percentage of people suffer from psychopathic delusions, which can cause those individuals to murder or perform obscene sexual activities. In certain cases, children will experience improper training, which will instill an inaccurate outlook on life. This article will examine ten cases of delusional behavior. It will strictly focus on historical events.

10. Craig D. Button


Something strange happened to Craig D. Button on April 2, 1997. On the day in question, Captain Button was participating in a training mission. He was operating a fully loaded single-seat A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft. His jet was armed with four Mk-82 bombs, 60 magnesium flares, 120 metal chaff canisters and 575 rounds of 30-millimeter ammunition. Craig D. Button unexpectedly broke formation near Gila Bend, Arizona. He flew in a northeasterly direction towards the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. During the flight, Button’s jet was spotted numerous times by observers on the ground.

Delusional Behavior

Captain Button turned off his transponder, which made the aircraft difficult to track. His jet was last spotted in the air about 100 miles (160 km) west of Denver. It zig-zagged in the air before impacting the mountainous terrain about 15 miles (24 km) SW of Vail, Colorado, on Gold Dust Peak in a remote part of Eagle County. The crash occurred at 13,200 feet (4,000 m) of elevation. It took months for a search party to recover the aircraft and Craig D. Button’s remains. The four 500-pound Mk-82 bombs that were on the aircraft were never found despite an exhaustive search involving metal detectors and ground-penetrating radar.

Adding fuel to the fire, hundreds of people reported hearing loud explosions in Northern Arizona, Telluride and Aspen. No evidence was found to support the idea that Craig D. Button released the weapons before crashing the jet. It is a mysterious situation that will never be explained. As you would expect, conspiracy theorists have latched on to the bizarre events. One theory claims that Captain Button was attempting to bomb a major U.S. city and was stopped. The second conspiracy involves a large collection of alien species in the Four Corners area of the United States. The theory claims Button was attacking a secret U.S. underground base.

9. The Murder of Tim McLean


Vince Weiguang Li is a man that was born in Dandong, China on April 30, 1968. On June 11, 2001, Li immigrated to Canada, becoming a citizen on November 7, 2006. Tim McLean was a 22-year-old Canadian man from Winnipeg, Manitoba. On July 30, 2008, Tim departed Edmonton, Alberta on-board a Greyhound bus to Winnipeg. Vince Weiguang Li was on the same bus. Li was described as a tall man with a shaved head and sunglasses. He originally sat near the front of the bus, but moved next to Tim McLean following a scheduled rest stop.

Delusional Behavior

At some point during the journey, Vince Weiguang Li pulled out a large knife and began to brutally stab Tim McLean. A passenger named Garnet Caton described the situation. “I heard a blood-curdling scream. I turned around and the guy sitting right (behind) me was standing up and stabbing another guy with a big Rambo knife, right in the throat, repeatedly.”  Li eventually decapitated Tim McLean and displayed his severed head to the passengers. The people fled the bus. Li then began to remove Tim McLean’s body parts and eat his flesh. After arriving at the scene, the local Canadian police summoned a tactical unit.

The suspect taunted the officers and carried around Tim McLean’s head. Five hours after the police were called, the suspect attempted to escape from the bus. At that time, the RCMP arrested him. Inside of Li’s pockets the police found McLean’s ears, nose and tongue. The victim’s eyes and part of his heart were never recovered and are presumed to have been eaten by the accused. Vince Weiguang Li’s trial started on March 3, 2009.

Despite Li having no documented history of mental illness, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with schizophrenia. The psychiatrist said that Li performed the attack because God’s voice told him that Tim McLean was evil. The presiding judge accepted the diagnosis, and ruled that Li was not criminally responsible for the murder. Vince Weiguang Li was sent to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, where he remains today. Had the murder occurred on a public transport vehicle in a different part of the world, like China, the circumstances and punishment for Vince Weiguang Li would be different.

8. Collyer Brothers


Homer and Langley Collyer were two American brothers that became famous for their eccentric behavior. During the early 1900s, the Collyer brothers settled in their family home located at 2078 Fifth Avenue (at the corner of 128th Street), which is in the middle of Harlem, New York. During World War I, Harlem saw a major rise of black residents from the Southern United States, leading to the Harlem Renaissance. During this time, the two white brothers remained in the neighborhood, becoming a local curiosity. The situation was escalated by the fact that the Collyer brothers lived as hermits.

Delusional Behavior

The brothers became famous for their snobbish behavior, dirty property, and compulsive hoarding. They obsessively collected newspapers, books, furniture, musical instruments and many other items. During the 1920s, Harlem teenagers developed the habit of breaking into the Collyer residence. In response, they boarded up their property and Langley used his engineering skills to create booby traps. In 1928, the Collyer brother’s lost all electricity, water and gas. The men took to warming their large house using only a small kerosene heater. They had money to pay the bills, but chose not to. In the 1920s, Homer became handicapped with rheumatism.

On March 21, 1947, an anonymous caller phoned the 122nd Police Precinct and insisted there was a dead body in the house. Upon arrival, the police found 130 tons of waste. They had to throw garbage into the street to enter the premises. An officer squeezed into a second story window and crawled on the floor for two hours to locate Homer Collyer’s body. On April 8, 1947, Langley’s corpse was found. It took 18 days to discover Langley’s body, which was only 10 feet away from Homer. Langley was killed by one of his own booby traps. The cumulative estate of the Collyer brothers was valued at $91,000 (about $1.2M in 2011 dollars). Items removed from the house include a collection of guns, glass chandeliers, camera equipment, painted portraits, eight live cats, and 34 bank account passbooks.

7. Carl Tanzler


In 1926, a German man named Carl Tanzler immigrated to the United States. Tanzler was a talented radiologist and in 1927 he took a job at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida. On April 22, 1930, Carl Tanzler met Elena de Hoyos. Upon meeting Elena, Carl became infatuated with her. He attempted to cure her tuberculosis with a variety of medicines. Tanzler showered Elena de Hoyos with gifts and professed his relentless love. Elena de Hoyos died of terminal tuberculosis in Key West on October 25, 1931. Carl Tanzler was heartbroken by the event. With the permission of her family, he paid for Elena’s funeral and had an above ground mausoleum constructed. Tanzler visited the cemetery almost every night.

Delusional Behavior

In April of 1933, Carl Tanzler removed Elena’s body from the Key West Cemetery. He used a toy wagon to transport the corpse back to his house. Upon arrival, Tanzler attached Elena’s bones together with a collection of wires and coat hangers. He fitted her face with glass eyes and replaced her decomposed skin with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster. Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos’s hair. He dressed her remains in stockings, jewelry and gloves. Carl kept the body in his bed. He used a large amount of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents to mask the odor. Elena’s sister heard rumors of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister and had her body exhumed seven years later in October 1940.

Carl Tanzler was charged with “maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization.” The case was later dismissed. In the 1940s, the public mood surrounding the incident was generally sympathetic towards Carl Tanzler. In the media he was portrayed as an eccentric romantic. In 1972, two physicians who attended the 1940 autopsy recalled that a paper tube had been inserted into Elena’s vaginal area that allowed for intercourse. The claim has been called unsubstantiated by some. After the incident, Carl Tanzler used a death mask to create a life-sized effigy of Elena de Hoyos. He lived with the effigy until his death on July 23, 1952.

6. Death of Philip Gale


The smartest people in the world can be susceptible to mental illness and delusions. Humans can form incorrect inferences about external reality, which causes suicidal tendencies. At the age of 8, Philip Gale began his education at The Delphian School in Sheridan, Oregon. The Delphian School is a private boarding school based on the ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. By the age of 15, Gale was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is a private research university. He worked at EarthLink Network Inc as the director of research and development. At the age of 16, Philip Gale developed a software program called Total Access.

Delusional Behavior

The software allowed EarthLink’s Internet servers to reach more customers on the Internet. Total Access gave the firm a competitive advantage and enabled EarthLink to ascend to the top ranks among ISPs. Before his 17th birthday, Philip Gale earned stock options worth a million dollars. At this time in his life, Gale abandoned the principles of Scientology and became interested in the Church of the SubGenius, which specializes in debunking cults. In 1998, Philip Gale began to display erratic behavior. On March 13, he committed suicide by jumping from a classroom window on the fifteenth floor of a building on the MIT campus. Philip Gale was only 19-years-old.

In the weeks before his death, Philip had been inquiring about how to gain access to the roof of MIT’s tallest structure, the Green Building. In the classroom he jumped from, Gale wrote out Isaac Newton’s equation for how an object accelerates as it falls. He also sketched a stick figure of someone tossing a chair. He signed the message, “Phil was here.” Gale then picked up a chair, hurled it through a window and jumped out. In part, Philip Gale’s suicide note read “Presumably I have jumped from a tall building. I am not crazy, albeit driven to suicide. It is not about any single event, or person. It is about stubborn sadness, and a detached view of the world.” Gale’s death has led to the speculation that his upbringing as a Scientologist contributed to his delusions.

5. Martin Bryant


Psychopathy is a disorder that is largely connected with delusions. The word psychopath brings images of danger, insanity and murder. Martin Bryant was born in Tasmania, Australia. He was a disruptive and sometimes violent child. After Bryant was suspended from New Town Primary School in 1977, psychological assessments noted that he had tortured animals. It was discovered that Bryant had an I.Q. of 66, equivalent to an 11-year-old and in the bottom 1% of the Australian population. On April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant carried out the Port Arthur massacre. He traveled to the Port Arthur prison colony in south-eastern Tasmania and brought an arsenal of weapons, including an AR-15 rifle.

Delusional Behavior

The shooting started in the Broad Arrow Cafe of the Port Arthur prison colony, where Martin Bryant killed 12 people and injured 10 in a span of 15 seconds. He then moved into the gift shop. In the two minutes that Martin Bryant was shooting in the cafe and gift shop, 29 rounds were fired and 20 people were killed, 19 by head shot. Most people did not see Martin Bryant during the attack. It wasn’t clear what direction he was shooting from. The 28-year-old continued to fire on people as he fled the scene. By the end of the massacre, Martin Bryant killed 35 people and seriously wounded 21 others.

Martin Bryant escaped and was later located at a house with hostages. A standoff ensued, which ended with Bryant setting the house ablaze. He was captured alive, charged, and convicted of all 35 murders. Martin Bryant initially plead innocent and famously laughed when he was charged with the crimes. He later changed his plea to guilty, but never gave a detailed confession. Bryant’s AR-15 was found at the scene with an exploded cartridge in the chamber. Within a matter of weeks, Australia passed a major gun control law. Legislation was passed to remove semi-automatic weapons, including the use of self-loading rifles and pump-action shotguns.

4. Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic


Mass hysteria is a phenomenon in which bizarre symptoms are recorded by a large collection of people. It typically begins when an individual becomes ill or delusional during a period of stress. In April of 1954, mass hysteria hit the area surrounding Bellingham and Seattle, Washington. The event is characterized by the widespread observation of previously unnoticed windshield holes, pits and dings. The pitting was so great that residents began to attribute it to everything from sand flea eggs to nuclear bomb testing. In March of 1954, the news of the “pitting epidemic” reached metropolitan Seattle. Local newspapers began to feature the story. Car lots and parking garages were susceptible to attacks.

Delusional Behavior

By April 15, 1954, approximately 3,000 windshields had been damaged. Some people reporting seeing the glass bubbling right before their eyes, believing it was sand fleas. Other news articles stated the pitting was caused by a Navy radio transmitter, cosmic rays, or a shift in the Earth’s magnetic field. Several supernatural causes were suggested, including gremlins. By April 17, 1954, the pitting suddenly stopped. The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic has become a textbook case of collective delusion. Looking back on the hysteria, it is not hard to find a nuclear link.

In March of 1954, the United States began Operation Castle, which was a series of high-energy (high-yield) nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The operation involved Castle Bravo, which was the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device. It occurred on March 1, 1954. The detonation of Castle Bravo caused the most significant accidental radiological contamination ever released by the United States. Operation Castle lasted from March, 1954 to the middle of April. This is the exact same time that the windshield pitting epidemic was hitting Washington State. Washington is located along the Pacific Ocean and in a position that could receive nuclear fallout from the Marshall Islands.

3. Woo Bum-kon


Woo Bum-kon was a South Korean police officer who is responsible for the second most deadly shooting spree in modern history. On April 27, 1982, Woo Bum-kon had an argument with his girlfriend and became enraged. He was a mentally unstable individual with homicidal impulses. After the argument, Woo traveled to the police armory and gathered an arsenal of weapons, including two M2 carbines, 180 rounds of ammunition, and seven hand grenades. He got drunk in the police armory and then attacked the citizens of South Korea. Woo began by shooting at people who were walking in the village of Torongni.

Delusional Behavior

He then traveled to the nearby village of Kungryu. At the Kungryu Post Office, Woo killed three telephone operators. This prevented people from contacting the authorities. He then walked from village to village, killing people. Woo Bum-kon used his public status as a police officer to gain entry into homes. He shot most of his victims, but in one case killed an entire family with a grenade. Woo Bum-kon continued his killing spree for a grueling eight hours. He traveled through five different villages in Uiryeong County and murdered a total of 57 people, injuring 35. Woo eventually committed suicide by exploding two grenades. The Interior Minister of South Korea, a man named Suh Chung-hwa, resigned following the event.

2. Boyd Massacre


The Boyd Massacre documents one of the bloodiest cases of cannibalism on record. In October of 1809, a 395 ton brigantine convict ship named The Boyd sailed from Sydney Cove to Whangaroa, New Zealand. The vessel was under the command of Captain John Thompson and carried about 70 people. A man named Te Ara, who was the son of a Maori chief from Whangaroa, asked to work his passage on the ship. The Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. During the voyage, Te Ara was flogged (beaten with a whip) for disciplinary action. Upon returning to Whangaroa, he reported the events to his tribe. In accordance with their customs, the Maori formed a plan for utu (revenge).

Delusional Behavior

Three days after The Boyd’s arrival, the Maori invited Captain Thompson to follow their canoes to find suitable kauri trees. After Thompson was lured away from the vessel, the Maori people attacked the European foreigners on land. They killed everyone with clubs and axes. They stripped the victims of clothing and took their bodies to be eaten. Using items taken from the deceased, the Maori organized an attack against The Boyd. They deceived the crew and massacred everyone. Only five people were left alive.

When news of the massacre reached European settlements, Captain Alexander Berry undertook a rescue mission and recovered four survivors. In a terrifying scene, Berry’s crew reported large piles of human bones on the shoreline. In March of 1810, a revenge attack was organized by sailors from five whaling vessels. The target was a village belonging to Chief Te Pahi, who was not involved with the original crimes. In the revenge attack, 60 Maori and one sailor died. From 1810 to 1814, shipping to New Zealand fell to practically nothing. A notice was printed and circulated in Europe advising against visiting “the cursed shore” at the risk of being eaten by cannibals.

1. Anders Behring Breivik


Anders Behring Breivik is a Norwegian right-wing extremist who has claimed responsibility for the two terrorist attacks that occurred in Norway on July 22, 2011. Breivik was born in London, on February 13, 1979. Before the attack, Breivik compiled a 1,516-page manifesto entitled 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, which he e-mailed to 1,003 addresses. He claims to belong to an international anti-Islam network. On July 22, Anders Behring Breivik conducted the most deadly shooting spree in world history. He performed two sequential attacks against the civilian population, the government, and a political summer camp in Norway.

Delusional Behavior

The first attack was a car bomb explosion in Regjeringskvartalet, the executive government quarter of Oslo. The explosion killed eight people and wounded several others, with more than 10 people critically injured. After detonating the bomb, the attacker moved to a youth camp organized by the organization (AUF) of the Norwegian Labour Party (AP) on the island of Utøya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud. The camp is put together every summer and is attended by approximately 600 teenagers. When Breivik arrived on the island, he presented himself as a police officer who had come over for a routine check following the bombing in Oslo.

He first shot people on the island of Utøya and then started to fire on individuals who were trying to escape by swimming across the lake. A spokesman for the National Police Directorate under the Ministry of Justice and the Police reported that most of the 68 casualties were youths about 15 or 16 years old. The mass shooting reportedly lasted for around an hour and a half, ending when a police special task force arrived and the gunman surrendered. Initially, as the besieged people from Utøya tried to call the emergency services, they were told to keep off the line because of the Oslo bombing. When the police finally arrived at the scene, they were met by survivors begging the officers to throw away their weapons. They were afraid that the men in uniforms would again open fire on them.

In all, 76 people were killed in the terrorist activity. Many people survived by playing dead. After the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik confessed to the crimes and stated that the purpose of the murder was to save Norway and Western Europe from a Muslim takeover. Ian Stephen, a retired forensic clinical psychologist, said Breivik understood exactly what he was doing, but is clearly a psychopath. Everything he says should be taken as nonsense. On July 25, 2011, Breivik was charged with destroying basic functions of society, creating serious fear in the population, and acts of terrorism. Prosecutors are considering charging him with crimes against humanity.


Other Articles you Might Like
Liked it? Take a second to support on Patreon!


  1. James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil on

    When it comes to delusional behavior, you could point to any religion. When people accept anything as being true with no supporting evidence and much evidence against it, what could be more delusional?

    Most of the problems of the world are, and always have been, caused by religion. For example, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, 9/11, and family planning clinic bombing in the USA. Then there were the crusades, the inquisition, witch burnings, and the dark ages. Get the idea?

    Humanity will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.

  2. Peter Boucher on

    I would give a nod of approval for this particular list, but you forgot the infamous Rasputin

  3. BryanJ, it’s good to read another list of yours. I see you still can’t create a list and a title that go together. Seriously, about five of these seem to show delusiohnal behavior. But you always find fasci9nating items and I just view your lists as collections of miscellany. And in that light, they’re darn good lists!

  4. While I find the recent massacre in Norway absolutely terrible I am also disturbed that teenagers (some as young as 12) were attending a socialist summer camp. Indoctrination of children into political parties is absolutely disgusting. Teaching your children to be satisfied working their lives in menial jobs and to shed ambition is tantamount to child abuse. I would rather be dead than live a life like that.

  5. i think you’re using a very loose colloquial definition of delusion here.

    from a clinical perspective #9 is definitely delusion 8 and 7 could be and 10 also perhaps but really there is no way of knowing.

    psychopathy has no inherent connection to delusions, it refers to a lack of ability to empathise with others and control behavioural impulses, but a person could be delusional and psychopathic at the same time. i think possibly you meant psychosis which defined primarily by delusions. 5 and 3 would lie somewhere on the line between psychotic and psychopathic i would think.

    2 is purely an act of war. you could argue the behaviour of the europeans in their revenge attack was just as ‘deusional’

    1 the perpetrator is no more delusional than any other terrorist. their actions and reasoning are logical but callous.

  6. I think all these people like to argue too much.
    I enjoyed this article! i ignore the heading often, rather just taking an idea from it!
    Any person that goes out to go kill is delusional in my point!!

    • I believe in truth and rational argument. tell me what the delusions are or admit the people in this article are not all delusional. it must meet the definition of delusional, not just merely be false, or mistaken. Everyone has at least a few false or mistaken beliefs – that’s not what delusional means.

      • Oky, so by your logic, the title should be called ”top ten shocking cases of delusional behavior in my point of view”
        Cannibalism, practiced by some part of the world as religion but in modern day USA, majority of Europe, and Australia, it’s seen frowned Upon, or ablest bizarre, so in this context we can be forgiven to believe that such things like a man going and massacring tourists, or another man killing children and teenagers, or simply reaching over and stabbing a man to death, is intact delusional.
        Sure they may have had a reason for doing it, but for the most part we have no idea what drove them to do/be the way they are therefore, from OUR point of view, it’s makes them delusional.
        Thank you =]

    • I totally agree, if there’s anything I’ve learned about this site, it’s that people want to pick over every single thing. Get over yourselves.

  7. Breivik is crazy, not delusional. His “manifesto,” is against multculturalism, Communists, Socialists,and most of all, “the Cultural Marxists.” He also glorifies people of the past, who fought against Islamic invaders. Charles the Hammer, Richard the Lionheart, and er, VLAD THE INPALER. The inspiration for Dracula. There. I told you he`s crazy. And as for deluded behaviour, you only need to look at Colonel Gaddafi. “No protests-at all-my people love me!”

  8. A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. Delusions typically occur in the context of neurological or mental illness, although they are not tied to any particular disease and have been found to occur in the context of many pathological states (both physical and mental). However, they are of particular diagnostic importance in psychotic disorders including schizophrenia, paraphrenia, manic episodes of bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression.

    Although non-specific concepts of madness have been around for several thousand years, the psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers was the first to define the three main criteria for a belief to be considered delusional in his 1913 book General Psychopathology. These criteria are certainty (held with absolute conviction), incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary), and impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre or patently untrue.
    All of the entries appear to fit to me.

    • A BiPolar Guy on

      I stand by my comments. I don’t see what beliefs the people in the examples I cited have that fits the definition you cited. If there were such beliefs you left them out.
      I am not ignorant in this area, having studied mental illness rather extensively for a layman, motivated by my own bipolar disorder and other illness in various family members. My psychiatrist took to calling me “her scientist” because of the depth to which I took my interest.

  9. A BiPolar Guy on

    these are mostly not delusional behavior. #8 is a type of OCD. no delusion is involved. #7 you demonstrated no delusion. If he thought she was alive, it’s delusional. But he may have been perfectly aware of reality, but having a bizarre fetish and other things. #6 is depression. This is not a delusion. If you want to say the fact they think it’s not worth going on is a delusion you are really stretching it. But suicide is not about delusional beliefs it’s about deep and abiding sadness/loss of interest in everything/feelings of worthlessness, and other deeply negative feelings.
    #5, 3,2 what’s delusional here? Neither killing people, robbing them, or even eating them needs to have any delusional basis. I’m not saying these people were not disturbed or insane. I’m saying that the stories as reported include no delusional beliefs. Some do these things because of “voices’ or imagined threats, etc others do these things because they have an enormously violent and aggressive nature (maybe due to mental illness) but they are perfectly aware of the facts and nature of the world.

  10. What about the German man who posted an add on a website looking to cannibalize someone, after finding an equally insane man wishing to be eaten the met at the eaters house where the two had several hours of gay sex followed by the eater biting of the eatees pens and placing his body in a bathtub while reading a star trek book to the dying man, after he died the corpse was devoured

  11. badcanuckistani on

    How about Waco, Heaven’s Gate, Jonestown . These involved more delusion than most of the sections in this article. The Boyd massacre appears to be along the lines of ritual cannibalism, a practice that appeared in many cultures world wide. This article appears to focus more on perpetuating the stereotypical and ignorant view of mental illness. How about the slave trade or Fascism, the delusional view that there are people in the world who are less valuable than others. You want delusion, check out Joseph Stalin who was responsible for the deaths of millions. Keep reinforcing ignorance, it does the world good.

      • Haha… favorite part is, “The Boyd massacre appears to be along the lines of ritual cannibalism, a practice that appeared in many cultures world wide.” I guess that makes it okay…….