Paranoid Personality: What It Is And How To Deal With It

paranoid personality

Have you ever felt like you were being watched or followed? Surely yes, especially if you have ever gone out at night and returned home alone. And have you ever had the suspicion that some people were plotting against you?

These doubts are less frequent, and may appear because there are reasonable causes or we have already had that experience. But what happens if we feel this way all the time, that we perceive that everyone has bad intentions towards us?

Well, it is possible that there is already a psychological problem: paranoid personality. In this article we help you, whether you have this personality or someone you know, by describing what paranoid personality is and how to deal with it.

What is paranoid personality?

The paranoid personality is one whose trait is frequent distrust and suspicion when attributing intentions to cause harm to others. As with all personality traits, there is no problem as long as they are at medium and healthy levels.

The extreme at which this personality trait is at its highest level is what is known as paranoid personality disorder. In this disorder there are two key problems that determine the rest of the symptoms: the perception that thoughts and emotions represent objective reality, and the difficulty in cognitively and emotionally putting oneself in the other’s shoes. Below I describe other symptoms of this disorder.

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1. Unjustified distrust and hypervigilance

In paranoid personality disorder, suspicion is the constant pattern of interacting with others, misinterpreting their intentions as malicious and intended to take advantage of them at any level. When it comes to being in a relationship, they often feel jealous and frequently question the intentions of this partner.

Their suspicions are generally unfounded, as they do not have sufficient grounds on which to base them, even though they carefully examine all the actions of others to find justifications. However, attempts to convince them that their distrust is illogical often fail, and even “confirm” their original beliefs that they are trying to deceive them.

Suspicion leads them to be in a constant state of alert and to try to control everything, which is impossible. Likewise, underneath this mistrust there is usually a real fear of being criticized, betrayed or rejected. These three characteristics are really exhausting and frustrating, and can lead to other psychological problems, such as anxiety or depression.

2. Resentment and isolation

In addition to distrusting others, they tend to be spiteful. When someone does cause harm to them, whether through insults, injuries, or slights; They feel resentment and remember this fact for a long time. Between resentment and suspicion, they present great difficulties in maintaining social relationships, since trust is usually the basis of an intimate relationship and it is usually difficult to deal with them.

It is even usually the paranoid person themselves who decides to isolate themselves and try to be self-sufficient, to thus avoid being manipulated or deceived. This lack of intimate relationships only increases their distrust of other people and their psychological discomfort. People are social beings, who need love and support to maintain our well-being; and it is very difficult to find them for a paranoid person.

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How to deal with paranoid personality?

Dealing with a person with paranoid personality disorder can be very difficult as we can’t find a way to make them see their misconceptions and get them to trust us. The best thing you can do to deal with them is really what they want: to make you feel heard and supported, even if you think differently.

If from the beginning you try to change my mind, most likely you feel attacked (again, since the world is always against him) and closes completely. It doesn’t matter what you tell him/her if you don’t actively listen to him/her first and try to understand him/her and empathize with him/her.

Obviously, you don’t have to believe what he/she says if you see that it doesn’t make sense, but understand that he/she is suffering and needs support. Once you have supported him, he may be more receptive to the inconsistencies you want to explain to him, and you can gradually change his ideas by showing him that he is not being rational with objective facts.

Is there a treatment for a paranoid person?

Yes, there are several treatments to deal with paranoid personality. The first choices are usually cognitive behavioral therapy and metacognitive therapy.

They often use techniques such as cognitive and metacognitive restructuring, and borrow techniques from narrative therapy, such as thought writing. These therapies focus on:

However, if the person with paranoid personality disorder is not cooperative or does not recognize that they suffer from a psychological problem, it is difficult for these therapies to work. The best thing is to try to persuade them by pointing out the discomfort they suffer. And it is that Psychological therapy is not only for people who suffer from a disorder, but it can also help reduce discomfort or treat individual problems.

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Another alternative is psychopharmacological therapy, although it is usually taken as a second option as it shows fewer results. The medications that are usually prescribed are new antidepressants, which help with rumination and discomfort; as well as second-generation antipsychotics, which allow them to reduce their anxiety and paranoia.