Paranoid Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder is a psychological condition characterised by apprehension and distrust that permeates all of a person's personal and professional relationships. It is rarely diagnosed in children, with the onset usually occurring during adolescence or early adulthood.

It is not yet known what causes Paranoid Personality Disorder. Like many similar mental conditions, it is theorised that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role in its development, but a clear link has yet to be identified. It is noteworthy that, unlike many similar psychological conditions, Paranoid Personality Disorder is not associated with drug use or substance abuse.

A person suffering from Paranoid Personality Disorder has an inherent distrust of others, usually believing that they have an ulterior motive that is malicious, deceitful, or callous. This can range from believing that people are only pretending to like them, to believing that people intend to inflict serious bodily harm on them. The beliefs themselves vary from patient to patient, and relationship to relationship, and are usually overwhelmingly or completely unfounded.

There are a number of symptoms required for a person to be diagnosed with Paranoid Personality Disorder, the first being suspiciousness of others. This suspicion causes the patient to read far too much into trivial details. This leads to another symptom, which is overreacting to certain occurrences, especially personal critiques. People with Paranoid Personality Disorder will often overreact to seemingly harmless comments or jokes, frequently becoming angry, offended, or defensive.

Another major symptom is the tendency to hold onto grudges. Regardless of whether or not the patient has a legitimate reason to be upset with another person, they will see any perceived attack against them as evidence of their beliefs, which causes them to become increasingly suspicious and unforgiving.

All of the above symptoms lead to the patient ostracising themselves from others, and becoming increasingly concerned about themselves, believing that they have to look after themselves because nobody else will. A lack of humour is emblematic of this isolation and self-concern, as they believe either that jokes are being made at their expense, or because they are making a conscious effort to distance themselves from others by being cold. This usually leads to the patient treating people rudely and angrily.

As you might expect, people who suffer from Paranoid Personality Disorder are preoccupied with the people they suspect, and spend a large amount of their time worrying about others. Therefore, in their minds, self-imposed isolation is the best way to tackle this fixation. However, this is a very degenerative and harmful course of action that only increases the risks posed to both their mental and physical health.

Paranoid Personality Disorder is, by definition, a difficult condition to treat, as those who suffer from it are extremely unlikely to seek help or form a productive relationship with their therapist. That is not to say that treatment is ineffective, but it is a condition that will require long-term therapy. Symptoms also tend to diminish gradually over time, especially towards middle age, making therapy a more viable option with an increased chance of success.