Recovery from Schizophrenia Home Page Table of Contents Schizophrenic Thinking
© Copyright 2012 Kurt Snyder
Paranoia seems to me to be a very primitive psychological response to subconscious fear. Every person has this from time to time. It is part of our evolutionary response to potential danger. The key word here is 'potential'. We can't always evaluate whether the danger is real or not, because it is only potential danger, not actual danger. We see this happening in animals all the time. Squirrels run away from us, birds fly away when we approach, and dogs bark at us to scare us away. They see us as a threat, even when we have no intention of harming them. The same evolutionary response occurs in people. The perception exists that something is dangerous to us, or that it might be dangerous. The problem in people with schizophrenia is that the perception of potential danger grows out of control. Often, the perceived threat is influenced by subconscious thoughts of which we are only partially aware.
Paranoia has many forms, but it is usually related to a perception of danger. It is the idea that there is something out there, either seen or unseen, heard or unheard, but which is an immediate or future threat to us. It is a vague, abstract idea that danger looms everywhere. The threats can also be perceived as a precursor to real danger. Just as a lion follows and stalks an antelope before the kill, the threats we imagine can be that someone is watching us, following us, or stalking us.
If you have paranoid schizophrenia, you will be helped immensely in your life if you understand what paranoia is, and learn how to recognize it in yourself.
Advanced paranoia can be associated with thoughts that you are already under attack, or have already been harmed. Those of us who have paranoid schizophrenia are influenced by these subconscious fears. We anticipate many of the possible ways that we might be harmed, or attacked. The problem is that our thoughts are not based in reality.
Paranoia also extends to our possessions. We may imagine that someone may be plotting to steal our possessions, screw up our computer, our car or other machinery or objects which are very important to us.
Many thousands of years ago, when our species lived as hunter-gatherers, we probably were under attack quite often by other predators, and other groups of human beings who were competing with us. When our lifestyle changed and we became more like farmers, we developed more permanent settlements with larger numbers of people and a more integrated society. Afterwards, these attacks probably came less frequently. Now that we live in cities and more stable societies, being under attack is far less likely for most of us. But the subconscious fears of the unknown and unseen attackers remain. We become paranoid when these fears come to the surface and alter our awareness of reality. We see danger where there is none. We anticipate that harm will come to us, when there is nothing harmful around us.
What follows is a list of how these fears may manifest themselves in our modern world:
This list is not complete and can not capture all the ways we may become paranoid. It is a general description of thoughts in the paranoid spectrum. If you are unsure whether or not you are paranoid, or whether you need a psychiatrist, you should consult with a psychiatrist.
This list is not intended to diagnose any illness, and this writing is not intended to educate you about how to assess danger, whether it is real or not. It is intended to familiarize you with thoughts that may be considered paranoid, and to educate you that paranoia is associated with fears that often have no basis in reality. Paranoia is a distorted assessment of a threat which is perceived, and it is a distortion of the risk of that threat. We are paranoid when we believe the risk of danger is far greater than the actual risk, or when we alter our behavior to accommodate a danger that we perceive to be low-risk.
If you know that you have paranoid schizophrenia, you must continually be aware of these types of thoughts. If you are experiencing these thoughts on a regular basis, you should discuss these thoughts with a psychiatrist of your choice.
Learning to recognize when there is real danger, and when you are only imagining danger, is a key skill that will help you manage your illness. You should discuss your paranoid thoughts with a qualified psychiatrist of your choice.
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Recovering from Schizophrenia Home Page Table of Contents Schizophrenic Thinking
© Copyright 2012 Kurt Snyder