What is paranoid personality disorder?
A paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is a type of mental illness wherein a person avoids to trust others. People who are diagnosed with PPD are in constant suspicion because they believe that the world will deceive them. Thus, they are vigilant in trying to prove their suspicion. In addition, people with this disorder would always give meaning to meaningless events or environmental cues. Moreover, they are sensitive to criticisms.
Paranoid personality disorder has a direct impact on several aspects of life. For example, a person with PDD may have unstable interpersonal relationships. Being paranoid can significantly affect the way people function.
What are the characteristics of people with a paranoid personality disorder?
There are some behavioral signs among people with PPD. The following are the common characteristics:
- Have difficulty in establishing commitment, trustworthiness, and believe that other people are deceitful
- Doubtful and reluctant in sharing personal information due to excessive fear that the information will be used to demean them or put them in danger
- Find it hard to forgo grudges
- Take every criticism as personal attack
- Suspicious of meaningless cues
- Accuse loved ones or spouses as unfaithful without apparent reasons
- Unable to establish attachment in a relationship
- Do not accept mistakes, believing that they are always right
How paranoid personality disorder develops?
To date, no clear explanation as to what causes PPD. However, some researchers believe that PPD is hereditary. This means that a person can acquire paranoid personality disorder from his/her parents. Furthermore, PPD is most common in families who suffer from schizophrenia. Thus, many have speculated that these disorders are connected to each other.
However, cognitive theorists believe that paranoid personality disorder develops due to maladaptive thinking. In other words, a person may develop PPD if s/he has constant suspicious thoughts regarding other people. These thoughts are generally unfounded. A person who is vulnerable to this disorder is someone who constantly sees others as deceptive and malevolent.
In addition, the lack of self-confidence may add to the development of PPD. People who have low self-reliance are doubtful on their own capability. Such doubts strengthen the unfounded belief that the world is indeed hostile.
Treatment of paranoid personality disorder
Can we treat PPD? A cognitive therapy seems to be effective in treating this disorder. However, people with the paranoid disorder do not believe that they suffer from this illness. Therefore, they hardly consider treatment.
The main purpose of cognitive therapy is to bring back the self-confidence of people who suffer from PPD and lessen the hostility towards others. Because people with PPD do not trust others, establishing trust is the biggest challenge among psychotherapists.
Fortunately, paranoid personality disorder is avoidable. How? Simply by developing positive and functional strategies in dealing with different life situations.