Paranoid Personality Disorder: Causes and Symptoms

People with paranoid personality disorder are often characterized by very marked mistrust. and pervasive to other people over a relatively long period of time.

People who suffer from this disorder are extremely suspicious of the actions, attitudes or intentions of others, to the point that they believe that there are “suspicious” plots and movements that seek to harm them or to harm them in one way or another.

Throughout this article, we will look at what are the symptoms, possible causes and treatments for paranoid personality disorder, and its general characteristics such as psychological disorder.

    What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

    We know as paranoid personality disorder a clinical entity in the field of psychiatry and clinical psychology from the DSM-IV manual. In this personality disorder stands out the existence of paranoid delusions: The belief that there are third parties who seek to harm us in some way, secret or covert.

    Therefore, people with this clinical picture tend to attribute malicious intentions to other people or entities, whether they are physically or close to them or actually exist.

    Paranoid Personality Traits

    People affected by this disorder strongly believe that other people are trying to take advantage of it, or want to harm or harm them, although there is no data or evidence to lead to this conclusion. We should not confuse this pathological pattern of beliefs with what an average human being may think or experience at certain times in life, for example in the work environment, how to feel less valued than a colleague, etc.

    People with paranoid personality disorder are in extreme cases of this trait, and they bring these false beliefs to all or almost all walks of life: From the professional field to friendly or family relations.


    Repeating paranoid experiences is the main hallmark of paranoid personality disorder. During these episodes, the affected person will have one of the following symptoms:

    • Excessive worry on the feelings of loyalty of their relatives and peers.
    • Unfounded anticipation that other people want to harm you, Cheat or take advantage of it.
    • Strong distrust of others. They avoid disseminating sensitive information as they believe it can be used against them, being betrayed and mocked.
    • Overestimation of risks and threats.
    • Tendency to mental repetition of certain memories, Remarks or gestures by third parties that were offensive to him, such as taunts or insults (often experienced in an exaggerated manner), which also provoke strong resentment.
    • excessive abstraction, A little self-centeredness and presumption: generally considered to be more important than others.
    • Disproportion in their response to alien attacksEven going so far as to present attacks of anger and unbridled rage for no logical reason.
    • emotional hermeticismThey are contemplative, cold and demanding with others to prevent them from harming them.
    • hypersensitivity in the face of third party comments about him, considering a personal attack or mockery that compromises his reputation.
    • Recurring suspicions their spouse’s infidelity, which involves an embarrassment in the relationship, and can often lead to the end of their life together.
    • The isolation, given their elusive behavior, avoids prolonging social relationships beyond what is strictly necessary.

    • family conflicts, Usually for economic reasons. Their disproportionate suspicion leads them to believe that their close circles are deceiving them or revealing their intimacies to third parties.
    • Inability to keep employment, Because of their lack of commitment to carry out their tasks, especially when they are in front of the public, in addition to their feeling of being exploited and receiving a salary not according to their preparation or their talent.
    • Recurring problems Health, Due to their mistrust of health workers and doctors, which prevents them from going to the consultation regularly. In some cases, they resort to self-medication.
    • unjustified assault and nerves to the skin, with an attitude marked by contempt for others.
    • Expressions of admiration and respect for people of social value or greater power. On the other hand, they are often reluctant to contact people they consider socially inferior or weak compared to those they despise.

    the causes

    Although this disorder has been studied extensively, there is still no reliable data on its causes.. There are different theories and assumptions about what causes paranoid personality disorder.

    In most cases, mental health experts agree that the causes are biopsychosocial, that is, a mixture of biological and genetic factors combined with learned and social factors. In other words, there would be a certain genetic and biological predisposition to having a paranoid-type thought structure, but also the learned roles and the environment can cause this predisposition to manifest itself clearly, or not.

    In addition, there are also psychological causes, related to the personality, character and temperament of the person, which can also be related to the onset of paranoid disorder. For example, having learned coping strategies as a child can be a preventative factor in the development of certain mental disorders, as it helps alleviate the discomfort caused by stress caused by certain everyday situations.

    Either way, this is a multicausal disorder and each case is unique.


    Treatment for paranoid personality disorder usually relies on psychological therapy with an experienced psychologist trained in professional support in such cases. They can also administer certain psychotropic drugs if the symptoms and the personal and social context of the person concerned justify it.

    1. Psychotherapy

    Psychotherapy is the least invasive and the most effective method when treating any type of personality disorder.

    Being a disorder that has its origin in the patient’s maladaptive and irrational beliefs, the approach will revolve around regaining the confidence of the affected person, as it is not usual for them to speak at the outset of their ideas. .

    2. Pharmacological

    Psychotropic drugs, although effective from a psychiatric point of view, are not recommended. in such cases, because they can generate suspicion and suspicion on the part of the patient, which usually leads to the abandonment of the therapeutic process. In this case, if strictly necessary, the administration of drugs should be limited to short periods.

    Psychotropic anxiolytic drugs, such as diazepam, are usually given in cases where the patient is suffering from anxiety or agitation. Antipsychotic drugs, such as haloperidol, may be indicated if the affected person has psychotic thoughts that can be potentially dangerous to themselves or to others.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Belloch, A .; Sandín, B. and Ramos, F. (2006). Manual of psychopathology. (2 vol.). Madrid; McGrawHill.
    • López-Ibor Aliño, Juan J. & Valdés Miyar, Manuel (eds.). (2002). DSM-IV-TR. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Revised text. Barcelona: Editorial Masson.
    • Waldinger, Robert J. (August 1, 1997). Psychiatry for medical students. American psychiatrist.

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