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What is paranoia? Symptoms and Treatment

The term paranoia, which derives from the Greek words para and noos , means ”  beside the spirit  “. The person with paranoia is suspicious , constantly threatened and persecuted by unknown people, or even by those around him. She interprets situations, words, behaviors in a wrong way. A word or a look can suffice to awaken the feeling of persecution . This may go unnoticed by those around him when he is relatively moderate.

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This disorder of mental functioning can manifest itself in several forms:

  • That of a personality disorder, where the paranoid functioning is found to be constant and constitutive of the personality. This is called paranoid personality, which is a type of pathological personality.
  • That of a paranoid delusion: episode of acute paranoia in a person who does not necessarily have a paranoid personality.

The term paranoia, which originates from the Greek words para and nous , meaning “next to mind” The person with paranoia is suspicious, she feels constantly threatened and persecuted by unknown persons, or even by his A trend paranoid: a way of thinking that is similar to paranoia but does not constitute a personality disorder.

There are several theories to define the causes of paranoia. Some say the illness is a narcissistic injury , a long-standing injury that the subject has kept buried deep inside and makes him particularly vulnerable.

Others argue that brain micro – lesions are the cause of the disease. Head trauma, consumption of alcohol or a toxic substance, stress or lack of oxygenation in the brain could be responsible for these injuries.

How to diagnose it?

The diagnosis is made by a psychiatrist , because between a suspicious people, suspicious but not sick and a person really pathologically paranoid, it is not easy for a person not accustomed to mental pathologies to make a difference. On the other hand, the signs of the disease can direct the doctor towards another mental pathology including elements of paranoia. The psychiatrist is essentially based on the words and behavior of the patient.

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What are the symptoms of paranoia?

Here are the criteria for defining a paranoid personality that are constantly found in pathological personalities, punctually during acute paranoid attacks, or in less important in people with a paranoid tendency:

  • Extreme distrust. A paranoid person is convinced that the people around him are trying to deceive, exploit, harm, manipulate.
  • Doubt: she doubts the friendship, fidelity, benevolence of those around her, family, friends or professionals.
  • The tendency to secrecy: the paranoid person confides very little fear that what she says is used against her.
  • Negative interpretation. A word, a sigh, a silence, an action, a banal behavior, everything is interpreted in a negative way. The paranoid person interprets everything and believes to see humiliating, aggressive and threatening innuendo everywhere.
  • Rancor: feeling (most often wrongly) hurt, humiliated, used, even insulted, this person does not forgive the one he considers to have been aggressive against him.
  • Aggressiveness: this person feels constantly threatened, humiliated, hurt, easily reacts with anger or aggression, reaction often incomprehensible to the entourage.
  • Suspicion: the entourage is suspected of deceiving and plotting. His spouse, for example, is often suspected of infidelity.

Also come into play:

  • Psychorigidity: Convinced that he is right, the paranoid individual thinks logically from false postulates. It is impossible to reason because if you try to do it, he will think you are trying to manipulate it.
  • An overestimate of oneself and underestimation of others.
  • Huge pride.
  • Tyrannical authoritarianism.
  • The absence of self-criticism
  • A disturbance of social relations.
  • Hypochondriac complaints: fear of various diseases, with threats of trial to doctors.
  • The passional reactions to real or supposed events: threats of lawsuits, money stories, jealousies, rivalries …
  • Major depression with possibility of violent acting (multiple suicide).

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What are the risk factors for paranoia?

People over 40 are more likely to be affected by paranoia. Indeed, age plays a role in triggering this pathology. Excessive consumption of alcohol , cocaine and other psychoactive substances also comes into play.

Are also more exposed persons with personality, so-called paranoid , in other words people:

  • likely
  • Who overestimate themselves
  • wary
  • authoritarian
  • Who often judge wrongly
  • Who do not use self-criticism

Men are more frequently affected than women.

What are the treatments for paranoia?

Treating paranoia is a difficult process because the person does not feel sick. She is in denial and is wary of everyone, including the doctor.

The neuroleptic drugs are sometimes prescribed when paranoia is going to delirium, but these drugs do not address the real problem, that is to say, thinking abnormal.
The psychotherapy can be effective if the person agrees to be accompanied in this way which is rarely the case.
The hospitalization may be necessary, sometimes under duress, as a paranoid person can sometimes be aggressive and dangerous to herself (suicide) or others (sometimes very severe physical aggression).

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