Sometimes, the normal development of the personality is altered by a fortuitous event that causes trauma, an inappropriate environment for the development of a child, or the voluntary cultivation of certain personal tendencies. These or other risk factors can lead to “paranoid personality disorder,” accompanying the patient throughout his life if it is not put in a professional’s hands. Throughout this article, we will see the symptoms, possible causes, and Paranoid Personality Disorder treatments and its general characteristics as a psychological disorder.
What is “Paranoid Personality Disorder”?
Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) is a psychological disorder in which the sufferer suffers from extreme suspicion. These people are tremendously distrustful, showing significantly marked misgivings about other people; thus, other people’s intentions towards you are always interpreted as malicious. Also, people with this disorder often suffer paranoid episodes. These episodes consist of more or less prolonged stages in which these symptoms appear with special intensity. It is common in these cases that the affected person interprets for no reason that incessant attacks are taking place against them: laughing and mocking at them or even offending them. When in doubt about why another person did a particular action, the paranoid will choose the most unfavorable. These feelings of mistrust are extensible to everyone around them, including their loved ones. Consequently, since, little by little, these are less and less, there is social isolation of the affected person.
The causes of paranoid personality disorder are not entirely clear. It is currently believed that there is a specific genetic component since it is known that people who have relatives with psychotic disorders are more likely to suffer from a paranoid disorder, which is clearly an indication of the existence of hereditary factors. However, it also seems likely that there are factors other than genetic, such as psychological or social. Therefore, other probable causes may be a person’s childhood, interaction with their family or friends, etc. Consequently, it is estimated that there is no single trigger but due to several factors’ interrelation.
What Are the Main Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder?
Several elements allow us to determine if a person suffers from paranoid disorder. In general, the most common symptoms are the following:
- Constant worry about the loyalty of friends and family,
- A permanent belief that other people want to cause harm,
- Exaggeration of circumstances, perceiving dangers or threats everywhere,
- Distrust of other people,
- A permanent sense of threat or danger,
- Grudge, tendency to remember past grievances, whether real or fictitious,
- Egocentricity, tendency to continually think about oneself,
- Maintain a defensive attitude in a generalized way,
- Sometimes, excessive reactions to the alleged attacks, which may present outbursts of anger or extreme rage,
- The tendency not to show one’s own feelings or emotions, for fear of giving an image of vulnerability,
- Extreme susceptibility to the acts or opinions of third parties,
- In people with a partner, presence accused of jealousy, belief that they are unfaithful,
- Social isolation, as a consequence of the rejection they generate in other people,
- Disputes in the family environment, due to the idea that they want to deceive, harm, or make them less,
- Problems in the workplace, given their inability to work with other people.
Prevention of Paranoid Personality Disorder
As it is a personality alteration, the affected person will hardly consider that they have a problem. Hence, the opinion of the people around them is essential. However, they may also be able to realize the difficulties they have at a social level to establish and maintain relationships with others and their problems in the world of work. That is why the advice to prevent paranoid personality disorder is more oriented to family and friends who may observe some of the symptoms that have been described above and who warn the affected person that something is wrong. These people close to the patient should follow the following recommendations:
- When outbreaks of aggressiveness or hostility occur, leave the person calm to avoid further exasperation. When they calm down, you can talk to them, trying to find the reasons for the behavior that could have caused “spark.”
- As a strategy to take the patient to therapy, the professional’s visit to solve a family member’s problem who accompanies them can be justified to trust the therapist.
- Explain to the patient the pros and cons of the decisions you make, so you can see that if something goes wrong is predictable and not due to a conspiracy against them or bad luck that haunts them.
- Ask them about their thoughts and ask them to develop them according to their previous experiences to see that everything does not always go wrong.
- Suggest that they write down the negative things that have happened to them during the day and all the positive things they have also experienced.
- Praise their social initiatives and encourage them, letting the patient be the protagonist of these initiatives.
- Comment on the positive aspects of the people with whom you interact to ensure that each time you focus more on others’ qualities.
- Minimize negative actions carried out by others may have harmed the patient, although without justifying them.
- Promote the patient’s participation in social institutions and collaborative activities because this can improve their self-esteem and favor their social relationships.
Want to know more about the types of paranoid personality disorder and the treatments? Keep tuned for the second part!