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The social cycle of paranoia

  1. Mar 16, 2004 #1
    A person unwillingly projects fear into the hearts of others. Look at his/her eyes, listen to his/her voice, observe the way he/she acts. But which came first, the chicken or the egg?

    Society is willing to make scapegoats, including those individuals who are forced to endure paranoia. Can you empathize with the "paranoid" that society is as responsible as he/she is for his/her illness? Some, like Thomas Szasz, would blame society for most of mental illness; here I promote an equal interaction ultimately among individuals, equal meaning one-on-one.

    Next time in public, or even here on the web, remember the "gang" mentality's effect that groups have on the one. A helpful analogy would be the presence of a black man in an all white neighborhood, or a woman alone approached by strange men. Have you ever been there? Then remember those who suffer a lifetime of impersonal abuse through a no-fault disease like schizophrenia.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2004 #2
    for my two cents, fear or any emotion-feeling has it's roots within a person's belief system.

    if you believe that urban areas are unsafe you will feel unsafe. if you have an unreasonable belief that you can never be safe, you will always feel affraid.

    if, you believe that you are the meanest SOB in town, you will feel safe. this is an exaggeration.

    believing that the universe means no harm, allows a person to rationaly deal with their fear.

  4. Mar 20, 2004 #3
    Can you conceive of a biological brain disease that causes the victim, against their own interest, to constantly fear other people, to hallucinate, or to have delusions? Think of a person with a "normal" brain continually fed PCP; would their bizarre thinking, emotions and behavior be justified?
  5. Mar 21, 2004 #4


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    People fear behavior they do not understand. Society as a whole still has a long way to go in understanding disorders of the brain.

    I can't imagine having to deal not only with the illness but the unfair judgement of others.
  6. Apr 1, 2004 #5
    For clarification, Loren, are you only discussing paranoid schizophrenia? I'm a tad confused because many people that live with symptoms of schizophrenia do not experience the emotions of fear and paranoia that you are referring to.

    Also, remember that though there is no one "at fault" for having a disorder, everyone has a degree of control over their experience. By implying that the way the menatlly ill persons experience the world is "forced" upon them, though you mean well, you are promoting the idea that they lack power. It takes a great deal of effort but many, if not all, people with a mental illness can be empowered to change the way they allow their disorder to affect them: their emotions, their relationships, their lives, etc.
  7. Apr 1, 2004 #6

    I general I was referring to paranoid schizophrenia. It would be interesting to see the difference in reaction to stress between such a diagnosis and other mental illnesses - i. e., what makes one person paranoid on the street may make another dissociate. Are mental illnesses then, in part, a dysfunctional protective response to environmental stimuli? We may best learn so by improving the lot of America's Third World, those with mental illnesses, by alleviating their stress of suffering. Many radical behaviors are tolerated by others nowadays, but paranoia is actually exacerbated by almost all societal norms.
  8. Apr 2, 2004 #7
    If I understand your question correctly, you are asking the purpose of a mental illness, if in fact they are not entirely beyond the control of an individual?

    This is a difficult question to answer, and the answer varies tremendously depending on the disorder (e.g., Dependent PD v. Social Phobia). Also, keep in mind that this is my own (very subjective) opinion. I believe that every disorder is at least in part genetic, and that it is brought about by a trigger. For example, Schizophrenia is more prevalent among the low class. I believe that this is partially because the stress of poverty is triggering. In addition, health factors like childhood nutrition, the mother's diet and stress levels during pregnancy, etc. play a large role. Beyond these factors that any given "client" has little to no control over, there are sometimes (somewhat) logical reasons why a mental illness may develop; as you say, "a dysfunctional protective response to environmental stimuli". Only, the illness starts out as being functional. Here is a very easy example: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Acute Stress Disorder. Both of these involve a person's reaction to a negative major life event (earthquake, rape, death of a loved one, etc.) The reaction (let’s say dissociation and depersonalization) starts out being very adaptive: it helps the person to cope. Over time, however, if those mechanisms that were once used for coping do not go away after their use has run out, the person is left with anxiety, hypervigilance, etc. And these may be more difficult for the person to deal with than the original stress is.
  9. Apr 2, 2004 #8


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    I think people don't like to consider any kind of mental illness or handicap. People like to think that they are free. The mentally ill and the mentally handicapped are a reminder that we are all enslaved to some extent by the physical properties of our own brains. So-called "normal" people, who share essentially the same limitations, usually don't see those limitations because they are so commonplace.

    Imagine walking down the street. Everyday, you and everyone you see wears a light, comfortable collar with a chain attached. You would ignore it, forget it even. But when you saw someone with a heavy metal collar being yanked around by a heavy chain, your own neck would start to chafe.
  10. Apr 2, 2004 #9
    I've wondered if mania is sometimes in this regard an exaggerated reaction to depression.

    This age is amazing. After hundreds of thousands of years of human history, now we have treatments of varying efficacy for mental illness, before a future with possible cures.
  11. Apr 2, 2004 #10
    Loren, that's an interesting thought. I think it is doubtful. Though rare, unipolar mania exists, or mania without the depression. I believe researchers studying Bipolar disorder are theorizing that depression and mania lie on a spectrum, and that some people experience one or the other, and some people experience both (all to varying degrees). When people go from a manic or hypomanic state to a depressive episode, this is referred to as a shift in polarity. This shift can be very fast (rapid cycling), or it can be months or years with "dormant" time in between.
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