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Is trusting good, is not trusting always better? The enormous power of paranoia

Is trusting good, is not trusting always better? The enormous power of paranoia

“The paranoid is that person who says to you: ‘just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean that others don’t have it in for me'” – Luigi Cancrini

The prevalent, practically constant sensation in people who have a paranoid disorder is that of threat, danger, aggression. “Here you see? They all look at me badly, I knew they were mad at me! “

The result is a state of unbearable alertness and physical tension and thoughts like: “You can never let your guard down!”, “As soon as you relax, they are ready to rip you off!”. Sometimes the internal feeling takes on a different nuance , that of derision, and the others, more than dangerous, are perceived as contemptuous or provocative: “Your friend looked at me in a strange way… surely he doesn’t like me and now he will go on talking badly of me to all your friends. “

But what is paranoia?

Paranoia is nothing more than an exacerbation of a trait that, in different measures, is present in all of us:  suspicion . Everyone in life has had a suspicion on at least one occasion which turned out to be unfounded. And many are often cautious and suspicious, because it is known that: ” Trust is good, but don’t trust … “.

The problem is when suspiciousness becomes exaggerated and unjustified. For example, when we have a suspicion, what should normally be done is to seek objective evidence, that is, not distorted by our own judgment.

Of course, sometimes the conviction that moves our suspicion can be so strong that it does not induce us to seek these tests (and, moreover, man by nature seeks above all the tests that validate his conviction, not those that deny it); However, it is also true that, when faced with fully objective facts, we are ready to admit that we were wrong, or at least to say that things are perhaps not exactly as we thought. The person suffering from paranoia rarely manages to do this.

First of all, his belief is so strong that he needs no proof. Furthermore, her perceptions are so distorted that every insignificant detail is proof for her that confirms this belief.

Thus, a paranoid convinced that others laugh at him could find confirmation in this belief in the smiles of all the people crossed on the street.

Or, a paranoid certain that his partner cheats on him could reinforce his conviction whenever he delays returning from work, or in extreme cases even when he puts the bag down in one way rather than another. Logic is useless in these cases. 

Paranoid personality disorder

Paranoid personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by the persistent and unjustified tendency to perceive and interpret the intentions, words and actions of others as malevolent, humiliating or threatening.

The world is experienced as hostile and always looked at, in the most varied contexts, with suspicion and suspiciousness , with the consequent “compulsory preference” for a solitary lifestyle .

Mistrust and suspiciousness lead people who suffer from this disorder to have a hyper-vigilant attitude (they look for signs of threat, falsehood and underlying meanings in the words and actions of others), to act cautiously and cautiously , to appear “cold “And devoid of feelings;

these subjects are also excessively touchy , controversial, obstinate and always ready to fight back when they believe they are criticized or mistreated.

Individuals with this personality disorder can also be morbidly jealous and suspect, for no real reason, that their spouse or partner is unfaithful. “You and Antonio exchanged too many looks during dinner, I knew you were cheating on me with him!”.

Those who suffer from this disorder are, or often are told to be, excessively touchy or jealous and above all always suspicious, about “who goes there”.

Others almost never inspire confidence . The person with paranoid disorder, in fact, thinks that there is always “underneath there is a rip-off” and expects to be damaged, exploited or humiliated in some way.

In general, he prefers to limit contact with others and tends to isolate himself and lead, even if with suffering, a solitary lifestyle . It can alternate between periods in which anxiety and tension prevail, with more angry and resentful periods or even states of depression and depression; what is certain is that he does not lead a peaceful life, but a state of suffering and a difficulty in “living well in the world with others” still prevails.

Can a paranoid disorder be treated?

Yes, although it is not always easy. First of all because a paranoid person rarely comes to a psychotherapist of his own free will: he would not see the reason .

But when this happens the prognosis can be more favorable, because it could mean that he already has doubts about his distorted beliefs .

More often, however, it happens that it is the family members who push her to turn to a psychologist, or that she comes for secondary problems: for example because she wants to find a way to get help in managing those people who have it in for her. In these cases, the motivation to get rid of paranoia – and in general to admit that the problem is not in others, but in one’s own perceptions – is more difficult.

In any case, however, the therapist’s main job is to autonomously bring the person to change their perceptions, that is to make first-hand experiences that contradict his suspicions , helping him to reach a healthier and more flexible perception.