- Paranoid Personality Disorder and Relationships: Moving Past Fear, Together
- Paranoid Personality Disorder: Management and Treatment
- Schizophrenia: Helping Someone Who Is Paranoid
- Topic Overview
- Mental Health
- Delusions & hallucinations
- Disordered thinking
- Not showing a wide range of feelings (affective flattening)
- Being silent or not talking much
- Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline
- Paranoid personality disorder
- Delusional disorder
- Paranoid schizophrenia
- Mood disorders
- Where to get help
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder
- How is Paranoid Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
- Causes of Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Do You Know Anyone With Paranoid Personality Disorder?
- The world is a hostile place and I must protect myself
- Difficult relationships
- You’d better treat me well or you’ll suffer the consequences
- The 7 main symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Suspicion and hostility are their hallmark
- When controlling everything is not enough
- Everyone is to blame, except me
- Fantasies of power
- How to Deal with a Person with a Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Signs of a Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Typical Quotes of a Person With the Paranoid Personality Disorder:
- Dealing with a Person with Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Things To Remember When You Love Someone With Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Why You Need a Vision
- How to Create Your Life Vision
- What Do You Want?
- What Would Your Best Life Look Like?
- Plan Backwards
Paranoid Personality Disorder and Relationships: Moving Past Fear, Together
While you can’t be your partner’s only ally in recovery from paranoid personality disorder, the relationship can be a great context for growth and healing. Just like with any relationship, it’s good to work toward patterns of interdependence. In this way, partners can access their personal strength and healthy habits whether they are alone or together. Ideally, both people in the relationship will be involved with individual therapy and you will work with a couples therapist or counselor together too. A counselor will be able to help you navigate the complicated challenges of:
- Setting boundaries. Your partner with PPD needs compassion and understanding, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for them to treat you poorly or take their frustrations with the disorder out on you. A therapist can help you both with how to draw lines and make your expectations understood. It’s also important that you continue to identify your individual needs and set boundaries against compromising those needs for the sake of their paranoia and fear.
- Practicing self-care. Similarly, proactive self-care practices can help to encourage greater awareness and positivity in general. Ultimately, both partners in the relationship need to practice self-care, but you might set an example from the start of creating positive habits and encourage your partner with PPD to develop their own in time.
- Maintaining a healthy social life. The effects of PPD can mean that both partners in a relationship become isolated. Isolation can lead to psychological unrest, and it also means that you are without important support systems. As you gain awareness of various areas of life, be sure to give attention to developing your social connections with family, friends, and other supportive peers.
- Bringing gentle awareness to disordered thinking. It’s true that it can be counterproductive to simply try to set your partner straight about the mistaken ways that they are viewing reality. But with expert therapy and guidance, you can learn ways to bring more awareness to the disorder together and to take some of the power away from the fear they tend to experience.
When you’re living with paranoid personality disorder or in a relationship with someone who has PPD, it’s easy to quickly become overwhelmed and lose hope. But if you have the support of professional clinicians, therapists, and counselors who understand both the challenges and the immense possibilities for healing, you’ll always have someone to light the way.
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Paranoid Personality Disorder: Management and Treatment
How is paranoid personality disorder treated?
People with PPD often do not seek treatment on their own because they do not see themselves as having a problem. The distrust of others felt by people with PPD also poses a challenge for health care professionals because trust is an important factor of psychotherapy (a form of counseling). As a result, many people with PPD do not follow their treatment plan and may even question the motives of the therapist.
When a patient seeks treatment for PPD, psychotherapy is the treatment of choice. Treatment likely will focus on increasing general coping skills, especially trust and empathy, as well as on improving social interaction, communication, and self-esteem.
Medication generally is not used to treat PPD. However, medications—such as anti-anxiety, antidepressant, or anti-psychotic drugs—might be prescribed if the person’s symptoms are extreme, or if he or she also suffers from an associated psychological problem, such as anxiety or depression.
What are the complications of paranoid personality disorder?
The thinking and behaviors associated with PPD can interfere with a person’s ability to form and maintain relationships, as well as their ability to function socially and in work situations. In many cases, people with PPD become involved in legal battles, suing people or companies they believe are “out to get them.”
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Schizophrenia: Helping Someone Who Is Paranoid
You may be able to tell when someone is paranoid. The person may accuse others of trying to harm him or her or may look around fearfully. The person may talk about protecting himself or herself from attack.
Here are ways to help the person who is paranoid:
- Don’t argue. Ask questions about the person’s fears, and talk to the person about the paranoia if the person wants to listen to you. If someone is threatening you, you should call for help.
- Use simple directions, if needed. Tell the person that no harm will come to him or her and that you can help. For example, “Sit down, and let’s talk about it.”
- Give the person enough personal space so that he or she does not feel trapped or surrounded. Stay with the person but at a distance that is comfortable for him or her and you. Stay more than an arm’s reach away.
- Call for help if you think anyone is in danger.
- Move the person away from the cause of the fear or from noise and activity, if possible. Ask the person to tell you what is causing the fear. Make a direct statement that you are not afraid.
- Focus the person on what is real.
- Tell the person everything you are going to do before you do it. For example, “I’m going take out my cell phone.”
To help with situations that may cause paranoia:
- Help the person avoid things he or she fears. For example, if the person is afraid of dogs, avoid them.
- Keep lights turned on if the person tells you that this makes him or her less scared.
- Talk about the person’s fears when he or she is not paranoid, and make a plan for handling the fears when they occur.
- Help the person make a list of his or her fears. At the end, consider asking the person to write, “These things are not going to hurt me. These fears are symptoms of my illness. They will go away if I seek help.” Don’t insist that the person does this. Doing so may make the person include you as part of the paranoid belief.
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Author: BC Schizophrenia Society
Helpful things to do when someone who has a mental illness is experiencing hallucinations, delusions or paranoia.
Delusions & hallucinations
How a person might act:
Talking to voices that are not there
Talking about a strongly held false belief (delusion)
Talking about something they hear, see or feel that is not there (hallucination).
Behaving oddly because they have a false belief, or because they are hearing, seeing or feeling something that is not there.
Being distracted and unable to concentrate.
Helpful things to do:
Avoid arguing with the person about their delusions. Delusions are extremely fixed and difficult to change.
Connect with the emotion of the delusion or hallucination e.g. It must be frightening to believe that all your water is poisoned.
Calm things down—reduce noise and have fewer people around the person.
Show compassion for the how the person feels about their false belief. If possible do what you can to help when the person is acutely unwell. e.g.: turn off the TV if they think it is talking to them.
Note: Unusual beliefs and behaviour may be part of a person’s normal belief system or culture. If they are, they may have nothing to do with mental illness.
How the person might act:
Behaving as though they are being followed, tricked or spied on
Being overly sensitive and suspicious
Being aggressive. The person could be afraid because of the delusion and may act out of fear.
Avoid arguing with the person about what they are being paranoid about.
Let them know you can understand why they would feel afraid, given the things they are thinking.
Show them with your body language that you are on the same side. E.g.: Sit beside rather than in front of them. Stay calm. Consider your own safety as well as theirs.
Talking in a way that does not make sense.
Not seeming to cooperate or seeming ‘spacey’ and ‘not there’.
Having a hard time doing regular things like as making meals and keeping themselves clean.
Dressing inappropriately or strangely e.g. lots of clothes on a hot day.
Speak to the person clearly and simply.
If necessary, repeat things talking slowly and allowing plenty of time for the person to answer.
Give step-by-step instructions.
Not showing a wide range of feelings (affective flattening)
The person’s face may seem not to move or respond, or have no expression.
The person may not meet your eye or looks away.
The person may not express much using their body.
Be aware that this may be a symptom of the illness. Don’t take it personally.
Try not to get frustrated or hurt that the person isn’t showing their feelings much.
Be aware that just because the person is not showing their feelings very much, does not mean that they are not feeling anything.
Being silent or not talking much
What the person might do:
Having trouble starting and keeping going with activities or getting things done.
Sitting for a long time doing nothing.
Not showing much interest in participating in any sort of activity.
Understand and acknowledge that these are likely part of the illness. The person is not behaving this way on purpose.
Try not to become frustrated with how they are acting.
Encourage them gently to participate in activities.
This information is adapted and reprinted with the permission of the Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria (Australia).
The BC Schizophrenia Society helps individuals and families find their way in the mental health system. They also provide regional programs and services to help people with serious mental illnesses and their families. For more, visit www.bcss.org or call 1-888-888-0029.
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I am under the care of a therapist and diagnosed as Paranoia. I have neighbors that are – to me – bizarre methods of ‘getting even for my smoking’. (I’ve almost stopped. Did stop for three weeks, but the problems never went away, so I went back to it. They send odors of smoke into my home somehow. One part of me says it’s not possible, the other ‘freaks out’ and I wind up with a panic attack. I have been ‘getting feisty’ lately, with loud comments to them, like “Thank You. You just made my day!” etc. I also belong to a group who meets weekly. What coping skills should I use? I just want to get back to my “old self” as soon as possible. Thank you.
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Paranoia means that a person has become inordinately suspicious of others’ motives and behaviors, interpreting them as hostile when in actuality, there is no hostile intent. By diagnosing you as paranoid, your therapist is saying that you are reading premeditated hostile intent and personal malice into events that are actually not at all intentionally designed to harm you, which may not involve you, or (if your paranoia is severe enough), which may not actually have happened. In all levels of severity of paranoia a person’s judgment has been compromised or has become systematically biased and as a consequence that person cannot rely upon their own interpersonal judgments when making decisions. There are several problems associated with paranoia. Paranoid people may attack other who don’t deserve it and thus inflict harm on innocents. They may get attacked back themselves after provoking someone. They may be subject to court proceedings or prison for their actions. They may avoid the health care system and thus not get help for conditions that could otherwise be treated. Finally, since they can’t trust anyone they tend to become intensely lonely people which is one of the more painful emotional states that anyone can experience in life.
Because paranoia is essentially a problem with judgment and thinking, the best thing paranoid people can do to help themselves is to partake in activities which will help restore their judgment or which will prevent them from acting out their paranoia in potentially destructive ways. For example, a paranoid person might come to believe that someone they know meant to insult them, and then get upset about that insult and attack that person, possibly seriously harming them. Though from the paranoid person’s point of view, the attack might seem like self-defense, in point of fact of shared social reality (e.g., the way that most other people see the world), there was no insult that occurred, and in any event the attack was well out of proportion to the crime. A jury of peers would send such a paranoid person off to jail despite the fact that he saw himself as only engaging in self-protective behaviors. Effective coping with paranoia means finding ways to 1) recognize when you’ve come to the wrong conclusion, and 2) stop yourself from acting out in ways that will cause harm to innocent other people.
Paranoia comes in different strengths. Some people are mildly paranoid and can still perhaps have some ability to recognize when their judgment is failing them. Other people become severely paranoid and completely lose their ability to question their own judgment, flawed though it may be. When you are paranoid, your judgment may be so compromised that you really can’t tell what is going on without outside help. For this reason, the best thing a paranoid person can do when trying to figure out if their judgment is okay or paranoid is to share what they are thinking with someone they trust and get a second opinion. This process is often referred to as “reality testing”, and it is a very valuable thing to do. By testing your perceptions against what trusted others think, you can gain an appreciation for how far off your own judgment is from others. If you see things very differently than other people do, then you have a warning sign that your own judgment may be off.
Making a decision to give people ‘the benefit of the doubt‘ is another way for a mildly paranoid person to cope with their paranoia. Many paranoid people feel that they are being attacked or harassed by others (as you seem to feel), but it is not necessarily the case that this is actually what is happening. Deciding to give people the benefit of the doubt means that you engage in an active process of trying to figure out other ways to understand what it is that other people may be doing or intending to do besides attacking or harassing you. Someone walking around might not actually be spying on you, for instance. He or she may just be visiting a family member or friend and outside for a smoke. Your neighbors may not actually be putting smoke into your apartment. Instead, the smell you are picking up on may come from a completely different source. If you are paranoid enough, there may not even be a real smell there; it may be an olfactory (smell) hallucination that no one but yourself could ever perceive. By deciding to give people the benefit of the doubt, you are acknowledging that your first impulse to see them as attacking you may be wrong and since you can’t really tell what the truth is very easily, you have decided to hold off on doing anything in retaliation.
‘Not sweating the small stuff‘ is another coping strategy that a mildly paranoid person can use. This little bit of philosophy essentially is advice to pick your battles carefully and conserve your fighting energy for only those which are truly intolerable. Paranoid people are quick to read slights and insults into comments and to see others as attacking them. They are also frequently operating under the assumption that they have to respond to all attacks and slights. This just isn’t the case. Even when people really are being attacked (and it’s not just a faulty and paranoid perception), not all attacks have to be responded to. In fact, many times, it is not worth getting worked up about small attacks and slights and insults because it is more costly in personal energy to defend against them than it is to simply brush them off and not take them seriously. If paranoid people can keep in mind that most small insults and slights aren’t worth responding to, they don’t have to feel so attacked in the first place.
People become paranoid for different reasons. Sometimes paranoia is a long standing personality style that people develop after early difficult abusive experience. They have been treated badly by people and thereafter find it inordinately difficult to trust others. Post-abuse, they are left constantly waiting to be betrayed by the next people they trust. Beyond paranoia as a personality style, there is also paranoia as a brain problem. Paranoid symptoms are characteristic of disease processes such as Schizophrenia and Schizo-Affective Disorder. They can also occur in the wake of drug abuse, particularly abuse of stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine (although plenty of other drugs can lead to paranoid symptoms). If your paranoia is caused in part due to a brain problem, you can take action to help your brain problem. If your paranoia is due to drug abuse, you can get sober from the drugs you have been using. If your paranoia is due to a disease process like Schizophrenia, you can work with a psychiatrist to see if some combination of medications can help reduce your symptoms.
I’m very glad to know that you’re working with a therapist and in a group setting to get a grip on your paranoia. The people in your group and your therapist will hopefully be in a position to help you do some reality testing, and to let you know if things seem to be getting better or worse. If you are under a doctor’s care, I encourage you to continue with that course of treatment. If you are not, it may be a good idea to get yourself evaluated by a psychiatrist so as to see if medication can be helpful for your problems (as sometimes is the case). Good luck.
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Paranoia is not always due to a mental illness. Recent studies have shown that mild paranoid thoughts are fairly common in the general population.
People become paranoid when their ability to reason and assign meaning to things breaks down. We don’t know why this happens. It’s thought paranoia it could be caused by genes, chemicals in the brain or by a stressful or traumatic life event. It’s likely a combination of factors is responsible.
Mental disorders that cause paranoia include:
Paranoid personality disorder
A personality disorder is a long-standing pattern of problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviour. People with paranoid personality disorder have a tendency to assume that others will harm, deceive or take advantage of them. They may appear secretive, argumentative or cold and be difficult to get along with. This disorder is uncommon and usually improves with age so that many people recover by their 40s or 50s.
People with a delusional disorder have one delusion (a fixed, false belief) without any other symptoms of mental illness. Paranoid delusions are the most common, making people feel there is a conspiracy or they are going to be harmed. But people with a delusional disorder can also have other types of unusual beliefs.
Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis and causes people to have trouble interpreting reality. The main symptoms are hallucinations (such as hearing voices that aren’t there) and delusions (fixed, false beliefs). Some people with schizophrenia have bizarre delusions such as believing that their thoughts are being broadcast over the radio or they are being persecuted by the government. Other symptoms include confused thinking and reduced motivation for everyday tasks.
Psychotic disorder and bipolar disorder can cause paranoia.
Other causes of paranoia include:
- Recreational drug use: Cannabis and amphetamine abuse often causes paranoid thoughts and may trigger an episode of psychosis. Other drugs such as alcohol, cocaine and ecstasy can also cause paranoia during intoxication or withdrawals.
- Neurological disease: Diseases such as dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or brain injury can cause paranoia.
- Severe trauma and stress: Some studies have found that paranoia is more common in people who have experienced severe and ongoing stress. This may include abuse in childhood, domestic violence, racial persecution or living in isolation.
Where to get help
If you need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:
- SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) – call 1800 187 263.
- beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) – call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
- Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) – online help.
- Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online.
- Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) – call 1300 659 467.
Paranoid Personality Disorder
People with paranoid personality disorder are generally characterized by having a long-standing pattern of pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others. A person with paranoid personality disorder will nearly always believe that other people’s motives are suspect or even malevolent.
Individuals with this disorder assume that other people will exploit, harm, or deceive them, even if no evidence exists to support this expectation. While it is fairly normal for everyone to have some degree of paranoia about certain situations in their lives (such as worry about an impending set of layoffs at work), people with paranoid personality disorder take this to an extreme — it pervades virtually every professional and personal relationship they have.
Individuals with paranoid personality disorder are generally difficult to get along with and often have problems with close relationships. Their excessive suspiciousness and hostility may be expressed in overt argumentativeness, in recurrent complaining, or by quiet, apparently hostile aloofness. Because they are hypervigilant for potential threats, they may act in a guarded, secretive, or devious manner and appear to be “cold” and lacking in tender feelings. Although they may appear to be objective, rational, and unemotional, they more often display a labile range of affect, with hostile, stubborn, and sarcastic expressions predominating. Their combative and suspicious nature may elicit a hostile response in others, which then serves to confirm their original expectations.
Because individuals with paranoid personality disorder lack trust in others, they have an excessive need to be self-sufficient and a strong sense of autonomy. They also need to have a high degree of control over those around them. They are often rigid, critical of others, and unable to collaborate, and they have great difficulty accepting criticism.
A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates from the norm of the individual’s culture. The pattern is seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition; affect; interpersonal functioning; or impulse control. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations. It typically leads to significant distress or impairment in social, work or other areas of functioning. The pattern is stable and of long duration, and its onset can be traced back to early adulthood or adolescence.
Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder
Paranoid personality disorder is characterized by a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent. This usually begins in early adulthood and presents in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
- Suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her
- Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates
- Is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her
- Reads hidden demeaning or threatening meanings into benign remarks or events
- Persistently bears grudges (i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights)
- Perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others, and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack
- Has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner
Paranoid personality disorder generally isn’t diagnosed when another psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia or a bipolar or depressive disorder with psychotic features, has already been diagnosed in the person.
Because personality disorders describe long-standing and enduring patterns of behavior, they are most often diagnosed in adulthood. It is uncommon for them to be diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, because a child or teen is under constant development, personality changes, and maturation. However, if it is diagnosed in a child or teen, the features must have been present for at least 1 year.
Paranoid personality disorder is more prevalent in males than females, and occurs somewhere between 2.3 and 4.4 percent in the general population, according to the American Psychiatric Association (2013).
Like most personality disorders, paranoid personality disorder typically will decrease in intensity with age, with many people experiencing few of the most extreme symptoms by the time they are in their 40s or 50s.
How is Paranoid Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
Personality disorders such as paranoid personality disorder are typically diagnosed by a trained mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. Family physicians and general practitioners are generally not trained or well-equipped to make this type of psychological diagnosis. So while you can initially consult a family physician about this problem, they should refer you to a mental health professional for diagnosis and treatment. There are no laboratory, blood, or genetic tests that are used to diagnose paranoid personality disorder.
Many people with paranoid personality disorder don’t seek out treatment. People with personality disorders, in general, do not often seek out treatment until the disorder starts to significantly interfere or otherwise impact a person’s life. This most often happens when a person’s coping resources are stretched too thin to deal with stress or other life events.
A diagnosis for paranoid personality disorder is made by a mental health professional comparing your symptoms and life history with those listed here. They will make a determination whether your symptoms meet the criteria necessary for a personality disorder diagnosis.
Causes of Paranoid Personality Disorder
Researchers today don’t know what causes paranoid personality disorder; however, there are many theories about the possible causes. Most professionals subscribe to a biopsychosocial model of causation — that is, the causes are likely due to biological and genetic factors, social factors (such as how a person interacts in their early development with their family and friends and other children), and psychological factors (the individual’s personality and temperament, shaped by their environment and learned coping skills to deal with stress). This suggests that no single factor is responsible — rather, it is the complex and likely intertwined nature of all three factors that are important. If a person has this personality disorder, research suggests that there is a slightly increased risk for this disorder to be “passed down” to their children.
Treatment of Paranoid Personality Disorder
Treatment of paranoid personality disorder typically involves long-term psychotherapy with a therapist that has experience in treating this kind of personality disorder. Medications may also be prescribed to help with specific troubling and debilitating symptoms.
For more information about treatment, please see paranoid personality disorder treatment.
Do You Know Anyone With Paranoid Personality Disorder?
The main characteristic of Paranoid Personality Disorder is a general suspicion and distrust of others. Other people’s motives are interpreted as malicious. This pattern is usually identified in adulthood, although there may be signs before which can be seen in a variety of contexts. People who suffer from this disorder assume that other people are exploiting, harming or cheating them, although there is nothing solid to support these ideas.
People with Paranoid Personality Disorder suspect, without any evidence to back it up, that other people are conspiring against them. They also tend to think that other people can attack them suddenly for no reason. So they always show a defensive attitude.
The world is a hostile place and I must protect myself
People suffering from this often feel that they have been deeply and irreversibly harmed by one or more others, even when there is no proof of this damage or that the damage was intentional. They have unjustified doubts about the loyalty of their friends or acquaintances. For them, the world is an insecure and very threatening place to live in.
People with Paranoid Personality Disorder carefully examine the actions of their loved ones to try and find hostile intentions in them. Any violation of honesty or loyalty that they perceive simply serves to support their hidden presumptions. We all have a certain confirmatory bias when it comes to highlighting some aspects of reality versus others, whereas they have a much more pronounced bias.
These people are surprised when a friend shows loyalty to them, and they cannot really trust or believe it is true. If they get into trouble, they expect friends and family to attack or ignore them. If they receive help, they will think that the person who is offering that help has ulterior motives.
“The essential characteristic of Paranoid Personality Disorder is a pattern of generalized suspicion and distrust of others”
Individuals with Paranoid Personality Disorder are reluctant to trust or maintain a close relationship with others because they fear that the information they share will be used against them. They may refuse to answer personal questions, saying that the information is nobody’s business. They see hidden meanings that are deregatory and threatening in innocent comments.
For example, a person with this disorder may misinterpret an innocent error by a shop worker as a deliberate attempt at deception. They may also perceive a funny comment from a co-worker as a directed and premeditated attack. In addition, they often misinterpret praise, and may perceive an offer of help as criticism of their way or doing things. They may also feel that the other person is helping them because they think they are incapable.
You’d better treat me well or you’ll suffer the consequences
People with Paranoid Personality Disorder are resentful and are not willing to forgive the insults or contempt they believe they have received. Even minor snubs can make them very aggressive. In addition to this, this anger and hostility can last a long time.
As they are always looking out for the supposed bad intentions of others, they often feel that their character or reputation is being attacked or that they have been undermined in some way. They are quick to counterattack and react with anger to the insults they receive. These people can be pathologically jealous and often suspect that their partner is not being faithful to them, without having any evidence at all.
The 7 main symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder
As you can imagine, people with Paranoid Personality Disorder are usually very difficult to deal with and often have problems in their relationships. There are many symptoms and consequences connected with this disorder. Here are some of the main ones:
- Suspicion, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting or harming them. They also frequently feel that people are letting them down.
- Unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trust of friends or colleagues.
- Little willingness to trust others, due to the unjustified fear that the information is being used maliciously against them.
- Seeing threats or derogatory meanings in innocent comments that are made without any malice at all.
- Holding grudges (they don’t forget supposed insults, offences or snubs).
- A perception that others are attacking their character or reputation. They are prone to react quickly with anger or to counterattack.
- Recurring suspicion, without any justification, regarding the fidelity of the spouse or partner.
Suspicion and hostility are their hallmark
The excessive suspicion and hostility of people with Paranoid Personality Disorder means that they often argue about everything openly. This can take the form of continual complaints, or a distant, and apparently hostile, attitude. Because they are excessively watchful of potential threats, they can act in a cautious, secret or malicious way.
These people often seem cold, lacking in feelings, and devoid of love. Their belligerent and suspicious nature can provoke a hostile response in others, which in turn will serve to confirm their original expectations (a type of self-fulfilling prophecy).
“People with paranoid personality disorder often have thoughts of the type: “They want to con me”, “They’re going to betray me”, “They’re making fun of me”.
When controlling everything is not enough
Because people with Paranoid Personality Disorder don’t trust others they have an excessive need to be able to cope all by themselves. This gives them a strong sense of autonomy. They also need to have a high degree of control over their environment. They tend to be rigid, are not able to collaborate, and are overly critical with others. Yet they themselves have great difficulty accepting criticism from others.
Everyone is to blame, except me
People with Paranoid Personality Disorder usually blame others for their own shortcomings. Due to how quickly they go on the offensive, responding to the perceived threats around them, they can quickly become involved in legal disputes. They blame others by attributing malicious motivations to them. This attitude is actually a projection of their own fears.
Fantasies of power
People with Paranoid Personality Disorder often have grandiose, but unrealistic, hidden fantasies. These often have to do with power and rank. They often tend to build up negative stereotypes of others, particularly of ethnic groups other than their own.
The simple worlds beliefs and overviews tend to attract them. This means that they are often by nature very cautious about ambiguous situations and hardly ever put themselves at risk. We can perceive them to be fanatics. They tend to attach themselves to cults or groups of other people who share their paranoid belief system.
People with Paranoid Personality Disorder feel great distrust and intense suspicion of other people. They interpret other people’s motives as malicious and blame them for all their ills. They are cautious and monitor their environment continually to detect potential attacks or threats.
For these people life is difficult and they need all the help they can get. Think for a moment how you would feel if you spent your whole life thinking that those around you constantly want to harm you.
American Psychiatry Association (2014). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5), 5th Ed. Madrid: Editorial Medica Panamericana.
How to Deal with a Person with a Paranoid Personality Disorder
There were times when I thought that there’s good in every single person on the Earth and you can find it when you give them enough love and attention. There were times when I thought that most people are psychopaths and there’s no other solution than run away because there’s no way to help them.
Yet, the reality is not so black and white but has different colors and shades. Life always does. Different people have different problems, illnesses and need different treatment. Some of them will get cured, and some of them won’t.
Although you might not need a precise overview of all mental illnesses, I believe that it is very useful to have at least some basic idea what are different personal disorders about. Whether you know it or not you are in contact or will get in contact with someone who has a personality disorder and the more you know the more you can protect yourself and/or help that person. It will help you understand many things as well.
We can all fall into an unhealthy relationship and before we realize it, it’s too late.
So let’s start with the first personality disorder I mentioned. Paranoid personality disorder.
How can you distinguish that someone has a paranoid personality disorder?
Signs of a Paranoid Personality Disorder
- a person who thinks that you are trying to harm him, you are using him or are cheating on him in some way,
- is more than too much interested in your loyalty and trustworthiness,
- is having a hard time telling you something personal, and is very cautious about giving you his personal information,
- feels like you are threatening him or diminishing him even when you are doing your best to praise him,
- very often he feels offended or overlooked,
- he feels like being attacked often and he reacts with anger and rage,
- he seems to be chronically paranoid,
- is very suspicious,
- seeks reassurance,
- feels rejected, excluded or hypersensitive.
Personality is a pattern of a behavior and manner in which a person thinks of himself and the world.
The paranoid personality disorder is such a disorder of a personality when an individual interprets actions of others as deliberately demeaning, threatening, untrustworthy or not loyal. They fear being betrayed or exploited very much. A person with the paranoid personality disorder may seem cold and calculating and behaving suspiciously.
Typical Quotes of a Person With the Paranoid Personality Disorder:
- Where have you been?
- With whom have you been there?
- Why do you need to go there?
- Why do you give me less attention than I give you?
- Why do you buy me cheaper gifts than I buy you?
- Why do you look at me like that?
- Why do you go to a meeting without me?
- Are you talking about me with your friends?
- Do you cheat on me?
It might be confusing because a person without a paranoid personality disorder can have some of these questions as well. A person does not have to be paranoid to be suspicious but there is a difference between being suspicious for some amount of time and being suspicious all.the.time.
Dealing with a Person with Paranoid Personality Disorder
Argue with this type of person is not a good idea, because these people are very fragile and hypersensitive. Ideally, if possible, try to empathize but not agree with the person. Express openness and understanding without judgment but don’t support the suspicious thoughts and emotions.
Seek for some professional help – consult a therapist or a psychiatrist on possible treatment. If you feel unstable or fearful, and if you don’t feel comfortable living in such a relationship discuss your friends and family and think about leaving. You should be the best friend to yourself and the person who protects you the most. You can’t help anybody else if you don’t feel safe or stable yourself.
Crazy Love: Dealing with Your Partner’s Problem Personality
Paranoid Personality Disorder
Coping with Paranoid Personality Disorder
Signs That You Are In an Unhealthy Relationship
Things To Remember When You Love Someone With Paranoid Personality Disorder
Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.
Why You Need a Vision
Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.
How to Create Your Life Vision
Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.
What Do You Want?
The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.
It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.
Some tips to guide you:
- Remember to ask why you want certain things
- Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
- Give yourself permission to dream.
- Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
- Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.
Some questions to start your exploration:
- What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
- What would you like to have more of in your life?
- Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
- What are your secret passions and dreams?
- What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
- What do you want your relationships to be like?
- What qualities would you like to develop?
- What are your values? What issues do you care about?
- What are your talents? What’s special about you?
- What would you most like to accomplish?
- What would legacy would you like to leave behind?
It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.
What Would Your Best Life Look Like?
Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.
A few prompts to get you started:
- What will you have accomplished already?
- How will you feel about yourself?
- What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
- What does your ideal day look like?
- Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
- What would you be doing?
- Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
- How are you dressed?
- What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
- What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
- Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.
It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next step. Give yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.
It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.
- What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
- What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
- What would you have needed to learn along the way?
- What important actions would you have had to take?
- What beliefs would you have needed to change?
- What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
- What type of support would you have had to enlist?
- How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
- What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?
Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.
It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.
Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com