Paraphrenia: Types, Symptoms And Treatment Of This Disorder

The most serious mental disorders do not have to be expressed only through hallucinations. Sometimes they do this through delusions, which are totally irrational beliefs that are resistant to physical evidence that contradicts them.

This type of phenomenon is precisely what occurs in a mental disorder known as paraphrenia, which is something like a chronically maintained delirium. Below we will see what are the types, symptoms and treatments associated with this health problem.

What is paraphrenia?

The term “paraphrenia” refers to a chronic psychosis, that is, a break with reality that leads to believing very bizarre and unreasonable ways of understanding things. Besides, what characterizes paraphrenia is not hallucinations but delusionsalthough the former can also occur in some cases.

As it is a mental health problem, paraphrenia causes suffering to the person who suffers from it and/or the people around them, but as it is chronic in nature it does not have an immediate cure.

Furthermore, the delusions that appear in paraphrenia are very florid, that is, they contain many strongly irrational components, a great variety of recurring themes, relatively complex narratives about what reality is like, and these affect many facets of the mind. person’s life. For example, a delusion that appears in paraphrenia may consist of a conspiracy by humanoid ants to control all the water sources on the planet.

The word “paraphrenia” was proposed by psychiatrist Karl Kahlbaum during the 19th century, and Its meaning was developed by Emil Kraepelin a few decades later. For this reason, it is currently considered an imprecise clinical category with little use in professional practice. As it is not very well defined compared to other psychiatric entities, it does not appear in the ICD-10 or DSM-5 diagnostic manuals, but despite this it is still common today.

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Symptoms

The symptoms associated with paraphrenia are the following.

1. Tendency towards distrust

Patients whose behavior resembles the descriptions of praphrenia often tend to distrust others in a very striking way. Many times, this goes to the extreme of becoming a delirium of persecution; Ambiguous facts are perceived as signs that someone is after him.

In practice, this symptom has led to the concept of praphrenia being related to paranoid schizophrenia.

2. Erotic delirium

People with paraphrenia often believe they arouse the erotic passions of others, which gives them an excuse to feel persecuted.

3. Delusions of grandeur

The patient believes he is someone important or with a lot of power, which is why he also makes sense of the fact that many entities are interested in him and want to influence his life (or put it in danger, as is common in this type of delusions). .

4. Solipsism and self-reference

Patients with a condition associated with paraphrenia tend to believe that events that seem little related to themselves are in fact related, as if many things happened because of their existence or their proximity.

5. Preserved intelligence

Unlike what happens in dementia, people with mental problems linked to paraphrenia do not have a significantly low level of intelligence, and beyond their beliefs and delusions their way of thinking is functional.

6. Hallucinations

Although they do not occur in all cases, sometimes they can appear, especially visual and auditory. These appearances reinforce the person’s delusional ideas.

Types of paraphrenia

Paraphrenias can be classified into:

Treatment

As it is a psychiatric disorder, medication with psychotropic drugs is common to treat psychoses such as paraphrenia. Specifically, commonly used substances are certain types of neuroleptics such as thioridazine. It must be taken into account that any drug has side effects.

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On the other hand, since it is rare for patients to go to consultation of their own volition, it is necessary to work on the therapist-patient alliance so that the treatment is not abandoned, and it is also recommended to combine this pharmacological approach with cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy and relaxation techniques.

The objective of these interventions is not to definitively cure the disorder, in the sense of making the symptoms stop appearing, but to make the outbreaks less frequent and to make the psychotic symptoms more controllable and generate less anxiety and discomfort.