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What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Those suffering from Paranoid Personality Disorder often have the feeling that nobody is trustworthy and that almost everything is conspiring against them. Their paranoia and suspicion extend to all areas of their lives, eventually convincing them that nothing in their lives is trustworthy. The degree of exhibited and experienced paranoia can range from general mistrust of everything to more severe mistrust and even antagonism and hostility towards specific people or categories.

If left untreated and unchecked, Paranoid Personality Disorder can ruin all aspects of a person’s life, due to the person’s inability to trust or care for anyone else. In the view of the pervasively paranoid person,  loved ones and coworkers all have hidden agendas, authority figures are instruments of control and oppression, and physicians are only out to make a profit off of a sufferer of Paranoid Personality Disorder. These people are often obsessively independent, believing that to rely on others is to court certain doom. Every bad thing that happens to them, and maybe even a large portion of the good, is likely to be the result of malicious or underhanded motives of others. As a result, paranoid persons they feel the need to work as hard as possible to control their own destiny.

Paranoid Personality Disorder is a step or two below Schizophrenia and Delusional Disorder in terms of severity, but sometimes the symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder develop into one of these more severe conditions. People with this mental disorder are also at greater risk of developing other maladies such as Agoraphobia, Major Depressive Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Research on this disease is somewhat lacking; due to the suspiciousness associated with the disease, few seek to participate in psychiatric treatment research.

What are the Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

One of the most obvious symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder is a sense of suspicion about a wide variety of people and things. People suffering from this disorder usually believe that nobody can be trusted and that everybody has hidden and potentially harmful motives behind their actions. Many other symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder could fall under the heading of suspicion, but a general sense of suspicion is a clear symptom of Paranoid Personality Disorder.

For the person suffering from Paranoid Personality Disorder, specific people are often targets of suspicion and, perhaps, even hostility. A person with this disorder may come to suspect a spouse of infidelity or of plotting murder in order to obtain the life insurance policy. A coworker who has a piece of helpful advice may be trying to curry favor in the office or is planning to steal the patient’s job. A boss may be offering feedback because he or she is about to fire the victim. Parents are simply trying to control and smother their child who has Paranoid Personality Disorder, and doctors want to get rich off of the patient and maybe even conduct clandestine experiments on him or her.

Those suffering from Paranoid Personality Disorder often read alternative meanings into innocuous statements or observations. A friend may comment on an aspect of the patient’s wardrobe, and he or she may take that as a harsh criticism in regards to style or taste. The spouse may say something in jest but the victim will take the bit of banter to heart and stew over it endlessly. A co-worker might say something in passing and the person with Paranoid Personality Disorder might believe the associate to have been talking in code.

People who have Paranoid Personality Disorder are often cold and distant with everyone due to their suspicious natures. Nobody is trustworthy, so everybody should be held at arm’s length and not granted access to the true person within. These people may also be hostile, argumentative, and aggressive in their interactions with others in order to further push other people away. Kindness and affability will often be met with suspicion, because keeping others at a distance is one way to guarantee that one can avoid the pain of betrayal.

What Causes Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The specific causes of Paranoid Personality Disorder are a mystery to doctors and scientists due to the small size of documented cases to study. Those suffering from this mental disorder are likely to view mainstream medicine with mistrust and will assume that anyone in the medical profession wants solely to take control over or experiment on a person with Paranoid Personality Disorder. Enough is known about this disorder that doctors have been able to draw a few conclusions from the available data.

Genetics may factor into the contraction of Paranoid Personality Disorder; doctors have discovered that those with family members who have or have had Schizophrenia or Delusional Disorder are more likely to develop Paranoid Personality Disorder. Some experts also believe that a person’s childhood and upbringing may negatively impact a person into later contracting Paranoid Personality Disorder. A person’s personality and mental makeup may also factor in; naturally aloof loners are more likely to develop Paranoid Personality Disorder than are the outgoing and personable.

What are the Subtypes of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

A psychologist named Theodore Millon has proposed five subtypes of Paranoid Personality disorder. The first is called “Obdurate” and is characterized by compulsive features. Patients who fall under this category are often stubborn and unyielding; they are always right, and everyone else must acknowledge that fact or suffer the consequences. They are often self-righteous and delight in following rigid rules with zealous fervor. They are highly confident and are usually offended when anyone expresses a contrary opinion.

Fanatic Paranoids exhibit narcissistic features and greatly overestimate their own importance. They may be pretentious and condescending, seeking to avoid consideration of their own flaws by making grandiose claims and talking about ridiculous fantasies. Their delusions are easily challenged, and their fantasies are coping mechanisms.

Querulous Paranoids manifest negativistic features and are often aggressively argumentative. They find fault with everyone and everything and are constantly whining and snapping at others. They are resentful and jealous of everything around them and can be sullen and sulky.

Insular Paranoids are avoidant, isolating themselves from an untrustworthy world. They are self-sufficient and constantly vigilant, always believing that numerous threats and dangers are lurking just around the corner. They are reclusive and do not enjoy social interaction.

Malignant Paranoids are sadistic and are usually hostile in demeanor. They harbor often brutal revenge fantasies and desire to persecute others at whose hands they feel wronged. They are aggressive, desire to dominate others, and are often indifferent and callous towards those with whom they hold grudges.

What Types of Treatments are Available for Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Those suffering from Paranoid Personality Disorder rarely seek treatment for their mental illness due to their widespread suspicions. Modern medicine is suspect and is often viewed as part of “the establishment,” “the Man,” or a conspiracy meant to subdue or subjugate the victim. This view leads to reluctance at best in terms of treatment; many Paranoids are overtly hostile towards those in the medical profession. Paranoids usually do not know that they are paranoid and thus do not believe themselves to be in need of assistance; they view everyone else as mistaken about their more benign views of the world.

For those who do seek treatment, Psychotherapy has been the most effective and successful method. While most paranoids are suspicious of any Psychologist, some are willing to listen to them and benefit from one-on-one sessions. If the physician or Psychotherapist can develop a measure of trust with the patient, then true progress can be made. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been the most successful type of Psychotherapy; using this particular method, therapists challenge patients’ negative beliefs and thought processes and replace them with more positive and true ones.

Most people with Paranoid Personality Disorder view medicines with as much suspicion as they view almost everything else, but those who do accept treatment may benefit from anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, or anti-psychotic medications. Some people with Paranoid Personality Disorder may manifest extreme symptoms, and the only way patients can continue to receive psychological treatment is to experience a trusting treatment relationship. Few paranoids are going to embrace this approach, however, because they do not believe that their views of the world are invalid.

What are some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions about Paranoid Personality Disorder?

People who suspect that they or their loved ones might have Paranoid Personality Disorder may have a few questions about this disorder. These are a few frequently asked questions:

How can I know whether or not a loved one has or I have Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The simplest way to tell the difference between reasonable doubt and paranoia is to gauge the pervasiveness of suspicion. Since people with Paranoid Personality Disorder tend to be suspicious of everything, detecting a broad and generalized level of suspicion is a good diagnostic place to start.

Sometimes, family members will feel that a relative is exhibiting symptoms of paranoia because they persistently mistrust the motives of well-meaning loved ones. This may represent a true problem for the family, but unless the individual’s fears are generalized outside the family, then this does not meet the criteria for Paranoid Personality Disorder.

I think I have Paranoid Personality Disorder or I know someone who sounds like he or she does; what should I do?

Most people who have Paranoid Personality Disorder look at doctors and medicine with the same suspicion with which they view everything else, so they may not willingly seek treatment. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, you should ask your general practitioner to send you to a mental health expert for a psychiatric evaluation. If you know someone who may have Paranoid Personality Disorder, try to convince him or her to consult a mental health expert.

I only meet several of the listed symptoms for Paranoid Personality Disorder, so that means that I do not have the disorder, right?

Mental illness diagnosis is not an exact science, so you may still have psychological problems through which you need to work. If you have doubts, talk to a mental health professional and take a psychiatric evaluation so that you can get help for any existing mental problems.

What sorts of treatments are available for Paranoid Personality Disorder, and do they work?

Paranoids often do not seek help for their condition, and when they do, they often do not trust the advice and orders of the attending physician. Psychotherapy can be an effective means of treatment, as can various anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti-anxiety medications. The key to successful treatment for Paranoid Personality Disorder is for the patient to trust the doctors enough to faithfully adhere to the treatment schedule.

Why Should People with Paranoid Personality Disorder Seek Treatment from Bridges to Recovery?

Trust is often the key issue for Paranoid Personality Disorder treatment; paranoids usually do not trust doctors to act in the patient’s best interests. Bridges to Recovery is an excellent place for those with Paranoid Personality Disorder to seek treatment because their exemplary patient care and at least a 1:1.6 staff-to-patient ratio give them the means to pay close attention to those afflicted in a sincere effort to earn the paranoid’s trust. Each the two Bridges to Recovery facilities has a maximum capacity of six clients, which may encourage a level of familiarity that can be comforting to suspicious people.
Bridges to Recovery typically employs intensive psychotherapy when treating patients with Paranoid Personality Disorder. During a psychotherapy session, a therapist and patient will work together to identify the patient’s problematic thoughts and feelings and will seek to understand how these patterns of thinking came into being. Doctors will sometimes prescribe medicine to treat psychiatric symptoms that accompany this syndrome. Bridges to Recovery therapists are highly qualified and will work hard to gain the paranoid patient’s trust.

The locations of the facilities of Bridges to Recovery are private and enclosed, which can provide a high degree of privacy for individuals who may be fearful of being observed. Doctors and patients will work together to create a treatment plan that will work best for each patient. Their program is certified by the California Department of Mental Health, so patients can be reassured that their facility has been thoroughly reviewed by the State.