Paranoid Personality Disorder is a disorder commonly mistaken for schizophrenic personality disorders. Schizophrenia, a psychosis, is when a person is has an image of a world and its transpiring events, and he/she is “living” it. Paranoid Personality Disorder, however, is a neurosis where an individual is living in the real world. This disorder, though not as debilitating as other disorders, can still devastate a someone’s life.
Individuals with this Paranoid Personality Disorder always assume that other people are “out to get them” even if there is no evidence that this is true. They are constantly doubting others around them and scrutinizing every action. This attitude is taken on towards all people, like friends or associates, not only strangers. For these reasons, people with this personality disorder rarely confide in people and are actually amazed if someone shows loyalty. However, this amazement also gives way to disbelief and falls back towards the idea that this newfound loyalty is part of a plot to cause harm.
Those of with the disorder also tend to bear their grudges and unwilling to forgive. They nurture their grudges and anger, which over time, gives them more of a sense that it is the outside world which the problem, not themselves. At times, these individuals may also conjure up flamboyant illusions to confirm their behavior toward others.
These feelings are also carried out towards family as well. One example could be as if a person with this personality disorder had a spouse or sexual partner, this individual constantly thinks that their partner or spouse is cheating on them. Often, the spouse or partner is barraged with questions questioning their whereabouts, faithfulness, or intentions.
It is believed that these symptoms first appear usually during childhood or adolescence. Those believed to be most prone are “loners,” those who are unable to maintain stable relationships with others, social anxiety, sometimes underachieve in school, are hypersensitive, have strange thoughts and language, and (as stated before) fantasies. To “normal” people, individuals with this paranoid personality disorder may seem out of place and commonly attract teasing.
Those usually affected by these symptoms are usually those who are of minority groups, immigrants, refugees, or people with different ethnic backgrounds. The reason for this is because these people are unfamiliar with these new and different concepts. These individuals may have a language problem, or unfamiliar with local customs and/or laws. Problems such as these may generate anger and mistrust among the individuals, and are paranoid, but not necessarily someone with the Paranoid Personality Disorder. The reason being this person still places trust in the family and may have friends. However, to legally have this disorder, one must show the symptoms listed above, and be completely suspicious and hostility toward others.
Another possibility widely being speculated upon is the brain. In the brain, there are many chemicals, and for the brain to function correctly, there must a balance of each type of chemical. As of now, scientists don’t know exactly which chemicals are responsible, but are optimistic.
There is also evidence suggesting that there is an increased possibility that someone with a relative that suffers from chronic Schizophrenia (specifically Persecutory and Delusional Type) is more likely to develop Paranoid Personality Disorder.
Among people in the United States, there is a relatively small percentage of people with this disorder. In the general population, there is approximately 0.5%-2.5% with Paranoid Personality Disorder. In inpatient settings, the prevalence is much high than in outpatient settings. For inpatients psychiatric settings, the percentage ranges from 10%-30%, as opposed to 2%-10% in the outpatient mental health clinics. Of those diagnosed with this disorder, there are more males reported to have this disorder than females, though the reason is not known why.
These statistics are of those reported, therefore there may be a greater percentage in the world. People with personality disorders such as this tend not to seek treatment. When they do go to a therapists’ office, it is usually on the initiative of a spouse or a problem arising from their child. Unfortunately, these individuals are resistant to treatment, even when they enter therapy voluntarily.
Though not much is known about a cure for the Paranoid Personality Disorder, there treatments performed in an attempt to reduce the extremity of the disorder. One method that can be used is reinforcement of adaptive behaviors. Such as congratulations, or some sort of prize or comment to uplift the person’s morale hopefully change their thoughts about others. Another possible treatment is psychotherapy or psychoanaylsis. The significance these two are that the therapists are able to give the patient a chance to realize their self-defeating behavior or break patterns that lead to unhappiness. By talking to the individual with the disorder, the therapist may gain enough trust to help reduce the paranoia. However, if the therapist breaks the trust, hopes of recovery may be extremely slim, for it would only give support to the paranoia the patient already has.
Hopefully, in the near future, there will be another form of treatment that can cure, or at least come close to curing the Paranoid Personality Disorder. The best hope of this lies in scientific research upon the brain and the chemicals which control emotions and actions. In doing so, many people who suffer from this disorder may lead a life without paranoia.