Paranoia

Lisa N. Richey, Anne Leonpacher Walsh, M.D.
Paranoia is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide.

To view the entire topic, please or .

Official website of the Johns Hopkins Antibiotic (ABX), HIV, Diabetes, and Psychiatry Guides, powered by Unbound Medicine. Johns Hopkins Guide App for iOS, iPhone, iPad, and Android included. Explore these free sample topics:

-- The first section of this topic is shown below --

DEFINITION

  • Paranoia is a response to perceived threats that is heavily influenced by anxiety and fear, existing along a continuum of normal, reality-based experience to delusional beliefs.
  • Paranoid symptoms represent a spectrum with a range of severities:[1]
    • Subclinical social evaluative concerns (e.g., fear of rejection, anxiety about vulnerabilities)
    • Passive ideas of reference (e.g., a person having suspicious beliefs that they are being talked about or watched)
    • Persecutory threats toward oneself (e.g., others have malicious intent to actively inflict harm, deceive, exploit, or condemn the person for a specific reason)
  • The content of paranoid thoughts varies greatly among individuals.
    • These expectations may be supported by loosely related or no objective evidence.
    • Individuals may find hidden meanings or associations between things, ideas, or events that support their beliefs.
  • Paranoia can negatively impact an individual’s mood and ability to engage in daily life.
    • Paranoid individuals may have trouble maintaining social connections due to doubting the loyalty and trustworthiness of others.
    • Of all delusion types, persecutory delusions are tied to greatest amount of negative affect; paranoia can produce low or anxious mood and can also be triggered by these moods.[2]
  • Paranoia can be a symptom of psychosis.
    • In the context of a psychotic episode, delusional paranoid thoughts may be accompanied by related hallucinations.

-- To view the remaining sections of this topic, please or --

DEFINITION

  • Paranoia is a response to perceived threats that is heavily influenced by anxiety and fear, existing along a continuum of normal, reality-based experience to delusional beliefs.
  • Paranoid symptoms represent a spectrum with a range of severities:[1]
    • Subclinical social evaluative concerns (e.g., fear of rejection, anxiety about vulnerabilities)
    • Passive ideas of reference (e.g., a person having suspicious beliefs that they are being talked about or watched)
    • Persecutory threats toward oneself (e.g., others have malicious intent to actively inflict harm, deceive, exploit, or condemn the person for a specific reason)
  • The content of paranoid thoughts varies greatly among individuals.
    • These expectations may be supported by loosely related or no objective evidence.
    • Individuals may find hidden meanings or associations between things, ideas, or events that support their beliefs.
  • Paranoia can negatively impact an individual’s mood and ability to engage in daily life.
    • Paranoid individuals may have trouble maintaining social connections due to doubting the loyalty and trustworthiness of others.
    • Of all delusion types, persecutory delusions are tied to greatest amount of negative affect; paranoia can produce low or anxious mood and can also be triggered by these moods.[2]
  • Paranoia can be a symptom of psychosis.
    • In the context of a psychotic episode, delusional paranoid thoughts may be accompanied by related hallucinations.

There's more to see -- the rest of this entry is available only to subscribers.

Last updated: February 6, 2020