Understanding Paranoia: A Guide for Professionals, Families, and Sufferers

Understanding Paranoia: A Guide for Professionals, Families, and Sufferers

Understanding Paranoia: A Guide for Professionals, Families, and Sufferers

Understanding Paranoia: A Guide for Professionals, Families, and Sufferers

Synopsis

The only guide currently available on paranoia, this work offers a method for understanding, coping with, and treating this widespread and neglected condition, which can result in serious social consequences from isolation to violence in schools and the workplace.

Excerpt

Paranoia is a surprisingly common and widespread disorder that takes many forms, benign as well as malignant, covert as well as overt. Yet few of us spot paranoia and fewer still understand it through and through. Instead, glossing over paranoia is die rule, and mishandling paranoia the result. While most of us recognize when someone does not have the physical stamina or strength to run and do not expect them to win a race, most of us fail to recognize when someone is paranoid and does not have the full ability to reason, and we instead expect them to correctly perceive reality and to make free-will choices. When we should be attempting to explain the deviant behavior of paranoid individuals as the product of pathological forces creating a recognizable syndrome, we instead attempt to understand the unfamiliar forces of paranoia solely in familiar terms. So when a criminal kills in response to voices, a reporter writes with a straight face that “his motivation remains unknown.” We think behavior that is irrational is rational and respond accordingly. When driving, if we find ourselves followed too closely from behind by another driver who is honking the horn and flashing headlights, we respond by giving the finger instead of just pulling over into the right lane after shrugging off the behavior as crazy. Wives of paranoid men who should be treating their highly sensitive, overly thin-skinned, hyperreactive husbands with kid gloves instead cavalierly cross, humiliate, reject, or embarrass them. Gay men throw caution to the wind and seduce rough trade—latent homosexuals just looking for a blank screen onto which they can project their own homosexual desires, then, finding one, killing their unacceptable self-image as externalized and reflected in their victim. Teachers unthinkingly criticize, or diss, potentially or actually paranoid students, making them angry and possibly violent. Bosses . . .

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