What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

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Detailed information about the signs, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of Paranoid Personality Disorder.

Paranoid personality disorder is a condition in which a person is distrustful and suspicious of others. The individual believes that other people are going to hurt, exploit or deceive him, even though he has no supporting evidence of his claims. Signs and Symptoms of this disorder are sometimes shown during the childhood years, but usually start to show during early adulthood. This disorder is seen more in men than in women.

Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder

Individuals with this disorder usually do not notice their paranoia. They symptoms the person has often interfere with personal relationships and other important areas of the individual's life. The main symptoms of paranoid personality disorder are:

  • Beliefs that other people have hidden motives
  • Beliefs that other people will use given knowledge to exploit the individual
  • Beliefs that others are deceiving the individual
  • Show hostile and argumentative behaviors
  • Poor self image
  • Do not do well with criticism
  • Hold grudges
  • Have problems making and keeping friends
  • Find hidden meanings in remarks made by others
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Isolation from society
  • Do not trust others

Diagnostic Criteria

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists two categories of criteria that need to be met for an individual to be diagnosed with paranoid personality disorder. The criteria are:

1. The individual must show distrust and suspiciousness of others. Other people's motives have to be interpreted as malevolent. The paranoia starts by early adulthood and has to be present in a variety of contexts indicated by at least four of the following:

    - Suspects that others are exploiting, deceiving or harming him even though there is no basis to believe so.

    - Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about loyalty and trustworthiness of associates or friends.

    - Does not confide in others because of fear that the information will be used against him.

    - Finds hidden demeaning or threatening meanings in benign events and remarks.

    - Hold grudges for unusually large amounts of time.

    - Perceives attacks on his character or reputation when there is none. Is quick tempered and shows anger during the counterattack.

    - Believes that his spouse or significant other is being unfaithful even though there is no evidence of an affair.

2. The paranoia cannot occur during the course of schizophrenia, mood disorder with psychotic features or another psychotic disorder. The paranoia cannot be caused by medications.

Causes of Paranoid Personality Disorder

There is no known cause of this disorder. Paranoid personality disorder is seen more frequently in individuals that have other members who have psychotic disorders.

Treatment of Paranoid Personality Disorder

Many people who have this disorder do not willingly seek treatment. The person does not see that there is a problem that needs to be treated. Their distrust of others makes it hard for the person to find a counselor and stick to treatment plans that are made.

The most popular type of counseling for individuals with this disorder is psychotherapy. The concentration of the therapy is on coping skills, and improving social and communication skills.

Medications are not always used to treat this disorder. If medications are prescribed, it is usually anxiety, depression or anti psychotic drugs.


American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC

Cleveland Clinic Paranoid Personality Disorder: Http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_paranoid_personality_disorder.aspx

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lucia anna
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Posted on Mar 31, 2011

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