One of the most debilitating and frightening mental disorders is schizophrenia. The ability to decipher and decide what is real and what is not, is hindered or absent in people with schizophrenia. They are plagued by hallucinations and delusions, and slowly lose touch with reality. Schizophrenics have a damaged thought process, where their mind repeatedly plays tricks on them, by blurring fantasy into reality. Their feelings and emotions are muted, as they cannot respond emotionally to situations. There are different types of schizophrenia, based on how the symptoms manifest themselves. In this article, learn more about the paranoid form of schizophrenia, its symptoms, causes and what can be done to help with this illness.
"Do you feel as if everyone is in a secret plot against you? They are, the whole world's in it. They are watching you quietly, talking about you and trying to harm you. They go through your garbage, stalk you, keep tabs on you, anything to gather more information to destroy you. For that is their ultimate aim. They will not hesitate to hurt your family. They will even turn them against you, so that you are all alone. And vulnerable. Trust no one."
The above paragraph is just a small and rough glimpse into the mind of a paranoid schizophrenic. Delusions can take many forms and paranoia is a pretty graphic sub-type of schizophrenia. A person suffering from this type of schizophrenia thinks that he is being persecuted and followed constantly. Unlike other forms of schizophrenia, where the thinking process is hampered and mental abilities dimmed, a paranoid schizophrenic can behave normally and is actually smart and highly tuned to his surroundings. They do not have speech problems or inability to show emotions.
The real issue is with the imaginary foes he battles, always out to get him. Today someone is a close friend and confidant, tomorrow he/she turns into a backstabbing enemy. The consequences of such recurrent thoughts are devastating, not just for an individual, but for his family as well. It affects his self-esteem and confidence, not to mention his nerves. For his family, his behavior takes the form of an emotional yo-yo: one minute he's calm and friendly, the next minute he's urging them not to talk to the neighbors. Such schizophrenics also obsess about ways to defend themselves and how to defeat the "enemy".
Paranoid Schizophrenia Causes
It is difficult to predict or assume causes of any mental disorder but here are some probable factors that could cause a paranoid schizophrenia personality:
- Whether schizophrenia is hereditary or not, is a debatable issue, especially among psychiatrists. Regardless, a family history of paranoid schizophrenia can increase the risk of it appearing in the next generation.
- Very stressful jobs or situations can cause an individual to develop paranoid schizophrenia. For example, a bodyguard or security agent used to looking for potential dangers everywhere, could become schizophrenic by obsessing over hidden enemies.
- Substance abuse through drugs and alcohol, can cause an imbalance in the brain's functioning. Such substances are known to cause delusions, so they can induce paranoia.
- Viral infections and poor health in an unborn child can cause a brain dysfunction, which could result in paranoid schizophrenia later in life.
Paranoid Schizophrenia Symptoms
This type of schizophrenia is the most prevalent type. An approximate 40% of all schizophrenia cases are paranoid in nature. Here are some key symptoms:
- Hearing voices and sounds that are imaginary
- Always suspicious of other people's intentions
- Very condescending and arrogant manner
- Tends to argue and fight out of situations
- Harbors feelings and ideas of suicide
- Imaginary foes and enemies
- Delusions of grandeur and fame
- Delusions of being singled out to be harmed or killed
- Feeling alone and against the world
- Reserved and withdrawn attitude
- Sizing people up as a potential threat
- A violent and defensive thought process
Such signs can be chronic or fluctuate with episodes of paranoia followed by a calm period. The symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia are most prominent in individuals between 25-30 years of age. In young children, such signs are difficult to diagnose. Teenagers do not have consistent behavior patterns, and so if such an illness is present, it could get ignored.
Diagnosis is carried out based on prevalence and occurrence of at least 3-4 symptoms and their duration. The key sign over here is a paranoid method of thinking. It is often necessary for someone close, a friend or family member to actually seek medical help for the affected individual, as their suspicious nature makes paranoid schizophrenics, naturally reticent and difficult. A mental health expert experienced in such cases is best.
Paranoid schizophrenia can turn a passive man dangerous and violent, if the individual does not get the right help in time. Suicide, erratic behavior, physical actions etc. are some methods, a paranoid schizophrenic might resort to, to express his/her grief. If you know someone who exhibits some or all the above listed symptoms, then please aid them in seeking professional help. In their current state, your help and support might be the lifesaver, in their endless sea of paranoia.
Disclaimer: This PsycholoGenie article is for informative purposes only and does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical expert.