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A mode of thought, feeling, and behavior characterized centrally by false persecutory beliefs, more specifically referred to as paranoidness. Commonly associated with these core persecutory beliefs are properties of suspiciousness, fearfulness, hostility, hypersensitivity, rigidity of conviction, and an exaggerated sense of self-reference. These properties are evident with varying degrees of intensity and duration.
The paranoid mode can be triggered at either biological or psychological levels. Common precipitating biological causes are brain trauma or tumor, thyroid disorder, cerebral arteriosclerosis, and intoxication with certain drugs, including alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, other psychostimulants, and hallucinogens such as mescaline or lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). They can produce disordered activity of central dopaminergic and noradrenergic pathways. At the psychological level, triggering causes include false arrest, birth of a deformed child, social isolation, deafness, and intensely humiliating experiences. See Noradrenergic system
The paranoid mode is resistant to modification by psychotherapeutic or pharmacological methods. Acute psychotic states of paranoidness accompanied by high levels of anxiety are usually responsive to neuroleptic medication. See Psychopharmacology
a mental disorder manifested by fixed, systematized delusions without hallucinations—for example, delusions of persecution and grandeur, and also delusional jealousy—that are distinguished by complex content, logical consistency, and outward plausibility. The paranoiac ignores the facts that contradict his delusion and regards anyone who does not share his conviction as an enemy. His affect corresponds to the nature of the delusion, and his struggle for confirmation and realization of the delusion is relentless and aggressive. There are no clear signs of intellectual deterioration, and occupational skills are usually retained for a long time.
The prevalent view in modern psychiatry is that paranoia is a symptom complex that arises in the course of schizophrenia and certain other mental diseases. Paranoia is rarely described as an independent disease. In contrast to paranoia, the paranoid state is accompanied by hallucinations (for example, the sensation of a violent external influence), psychic automatisms, fear, and bewilderment.
B. I. FRANKSHTEIN