General Question

raven860's avatar

Do you know anyone who suffers from Paranoia?

Asked by raven860 (2163points) February 20th, 2012

What behavior of theirs might classify them as paranoid?

What causes it?

What happened in their life?

Is it possible for them to recover from it?

What kind of treatment helps?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

14 Answers

deni's avatar

I have a friend who is paranoid about everything. Not to the extent that I think he needs professional help, but he needs some type of help. I think the way he is paranoid makes him extremely self conscious. (Everyone is talking about me. Or, oh my god, how are they going to react to what I just said? Should I not have said that? Or, he just won’t say things in the first place. Sometimes stop in the middle of the sentence if he doesn’t think it will get a good reaction) I think it stems from issues with his parents, I know his dad was not too loving growing up and I think he feels like what he has to say is not worth while, and I also think he is terrified of people not liking him, so he focuses in on the really little things way too much. He used to be my best friend, and I’ve watched over the years as his poor self esteem and minor/(major?) paranoia have ruined his social life almost completely. He is too afraid to ask people to hang out with him, as he is SURE that they will say no. He didn’t ask me once to hang out until five years into our friendship. And by that point we were great friends! But he is afraid that he is always “bothering” you, so he avoids it in the first place, and thus, he now has no social life, and is extremely unpleasant all the time. It is a real shame.

anartist's avatar

Everyone does to some extent. Like most diagnoses of mental illness, it is a matter of degree. If it clearly interferes with their lives, it may be considered a problem. And then there was a fascinating study in the 60s that drew the conclusion that most paranoids have reason to be paranoid. However, it is a chicken-and-egg thing. Paranoid behavior may cause people to talk about the person who exhibits it.

The best way to approach it is “why do you think you are that important that all these people are thinking about you?”

In a most exaggerated example, someone who thinks the CIA is following them:
Itemize the man-hours of CIA employees of various pay grades who would have to work on tag-team surveillance, on foot and in cars, employees and equipment to set up bugs at workplace and home and s/o, employees and equipment to monitor electronic transmissions, employees to collate the data and ask, are you worth that kind of expense? Why?

Rock2's avatar

Gettting “professional help” is not the big deal you are making it out to be. He should get evaluated. It will do him good.

stardust's avatar

I agree that everyone experiences it to some extent. I do know a couple of people who are extremely paranoid. If a person looks at them in passing, they feel they are being “stared” at and get quite angry. It’s very uncomfortable as it’s hard to hold any level of decent conversation as the focus is on everyone else “watching” her, etc.
Another guy is paranoid as a result of taking drugs.
It’s definitely something that can be overcome. It’s like everything else – finding out what’s at the root of the issue.

deni's avatar

@stardust Oh yeah, that reminds me, he takes everything personally. The road rage he has is incredible. “OH MY GOD, THAT PERSON IS WALKING SLOWLY ACROSS THE CROSSWALK. THEY MUST BE DOING IT TO FRUSTRATE ME. THIS IS LITERALLY RUINING MY DAY.” I have seen him almost run people over at the crosswalk at the grocery store before. It’s terrifying. I stopped getting in a car with him.

wundayatta's avatar

Most of the people I know who have been paranoid are bipolar. Perhaps that’s because I meet them in a bipolar support group.

Once they found the right meds, the paranoia went away. They were all much happier to no longer be paranoid.

KateTheGreat's avatar

I had an aunt who was extremely paranoid. She always worried about people following or watching her. She homeschooled her kids and never answered the door due to fear of the police or a freak accident. It seriously inhibited the entire family’s life.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

One person who had to take lithium in order not to go into full blown menacing paranoia. I got away as soon as I learned the extent of their issues. It’s like nothing I’d ever exerienced before and never want to encounter again.

bkcunningham's avatar

There was a man in my hometown who wore a towel around his neck. Underneath the towel was aluminum foil. The foil deflected the rays from outer space aliens and the FBI who had a beam that would control his mind and read his thoughts if he didn’t have the aluminum foil. Now that is paranoid.

anartist's avatar

@bkcunningham I just love the tin-foil guys! Did this guy think the aliens and the FBI were in cahoots to get him? That’s some strange bedfellows.

I wonder if it has anything to do with
1. wrapping tin foil around security tags in stores to fool the shoplifting scanners
2. something to do with an “Ask Mr Wizard” level of early ham radio.
[I did see someone who was assisting operating a ham radio tower system set up an odd contraption in his bedroom that utilized an oven grille to cut some kind of interference to—I think—his private electronic gadgets]

@stardust I hope that guy’s road rage never crosses the line into plowing down those deliberately provocative slowpokes . . .

Moegitto's avatar

I’m Bipolar, so I suffer from random bouts of Paranoia. It ranges from thinking someone is talking about me to thinking someone is in the room with me. I’ve paused games and walked around my apartment because I had a feeling someone was around. I wouldn’t say it was fear based, it’s just that I get this urge to look behind me on the street. Wal-mart is the worst for me, I have to look down EVERY isle even if I know what I’m looking for.

bkcunningham's avatar

I don’t know, @anartist. My mom always told us not to make fun of him, because he was sick and couldn’t help it. I wonder if it was some form of paranoid schizophrenia. He worked at a little Tastee Freeze type place just outside of town and lived to be an old man.

My husband was working in downtown Washington, DC, a few years ago. It was about 3 a.m. and a homeless woman wandered on the jobsite; still in her hospital gown. He described the conversation he had with her and it was apparent she had the same syndrome the aluminum foil guy had from my childhood. She wanted him to pull down a radio tower because it was broadcasting the signals. I wonder what the illness is they both had?

Moegitto's avatar

@bkcunningham I’m thinking schizophrenia, that was a common action among PCP users in the 50’s and 60’s. The drug was tested on the civilian populace and it caused spurts of public crazy.

lo's avatar

We have a family member who will not answer phone calls because she believes the person calling is an impersonator. She does the same with emails.
We don’t know how to communicate with her. Her immediate family justs laughs it off but we feel she needs help.When describing these situations, she will say she was not fearful. You can feel the fear as she is talking. I don’t know why people are ‘afraid’ of admitting to ‘fear ’(no pun intended).

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