History of Paranoia

The word “paranoia” was coined by Hippocrates, who is commonly described as the founder of Medicine. Hippocrates was born around 460BC on the Greek island of Kos.

He used the word paranoia to describe people’s experiences when they had a very high temperature.

He did this by putting together the Greek words (Para) beside, and (Nous) mind, to create the phrase “out of one’s mind”.

What is Paranoia?

Paranoia involves intense anxious or fearful feelings and thoughts often related to persecution, threat or conspiracy.

Paranoia occurs in many mental health disorders, but is most often present in psychotic disorders. Paranoia can become delusions, when irrational thoughts and beliefs become so fixed that nothing (including contrary evidence) can convince a person that what they think or feel is not true.

What causes Paranoia?

The cause of paranoia is a breakdown of various mental and emotional functions involving reasoning and assigned meanings.

Often, paranoia thoughts and feelings are related to life events, thereby increasing isolation and difficulty with getting help.

 What is a Delusion?

A delusion is an odd belief that a person firmly insists is true, despite evidence that it is not. Two of the most popular delusions are “delusions of grandeur” or “persecutory delusions”.

What is the prevalence of “Paranoia”

Research shows that:

          • Approximately 8% of the population experience “severe paranoia”
          • Up to approximately 18% of the population experience “mild paranoia”.

What promotes the severity of Paranoia?

FEAR – fear is the master emotion.

Like hearing voices, the level of fear often dictates the severity of paranoia.

Think about these experiences as fear free:

                • What is paranoia without fear?
                • What are voices without fear?
                • What is anxiety without fear?
                • Can you have a panic attack without fear?

Managing Paranoia

                    • Medication (use wisely)
                    • Talking therapy (why am I thinking this way?)
                    • Accept it is part of the human condition
                    • Acknowledge progress
                    • Exercise/endorphins
                    • Practice positive thinking/look at mood
                    • Rationalise thoughts and ideas
                    • Share fears with a trusted person
                    • Keep busy
                    • Reflect on past experiences (what happened?)
                    • Use your intelligence to understand it
                    • Work with people you trust
                    • Create safety.

Where/How can I learn more?

The Foundation runs training workshops on “Working with Paranoia and Unusual Beliefs”. For more details, go to Training Courses.

To view publications and links to other relevant websites, go to Resources.

We are constantly updating our information and resources, so join our mailing list to keep up to date.


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