There are many triggers for paranoia: unsafe living conditions, verbal attacks, extreme income or social inequality, family trauma, workplace trauma, trauma within educational institutions, unresolved conflicting values (failing to find points of agreement), bullying, mockery, incivility, inadequate personal coping skills, lack of personal communication skills, prolonged stress, low self-esteem.
Here are common symptoms of paranoia:
Be easily offended
Find it difficult to trust others
Not cope with any type of criticism
Assign harmful meanings to other people’s remarks
Be always on the defensive
Be hostile, aggressive and argumentative
Not be able to compromise
Find it difficult, if not impossible, to ‘forgive and forget’
Assume that people are talking ill of them behind their back
Be overly suspicious – for example, think that other people are lying or scheming to cheat them
Not be able to confide in anyone
Find relationships difficult
Consider the world to be a place of constant threat
Feel persecuted by the world at large
Believe in unfounded ‘conspiracy theories’
In the absence of support and adequate intervention, paranoia can lead one person to antagonize a group of people who in turn react with the same behaviour until everyone is paranoid of everyone else.
Some cope through avoidance, others become overly zealous, while others resort to addiction. The problem with addiction is that drugs and alcohol increase paranoia. The problem with zealous behaviour is that the coping skills needed for inclusion are never developed, particularly learning to understand that diversity can be an asset. The problem with avoidance is that there is never any effort to change or improve.
Social identity can help to reduce paranoia when social identity enables resilience and adaptation to challenges.
Among UK residents, neighborhood identity was associated with lower levels of paranoia and depression through improved self-esteem; however, no correlation between neighborhood identity and auditory or visual hallucinations was reported.
For university students, friendship group identification was significantly associated with depression and paranoia as mediated by self-esteem
Self regulation and objective reflection can be effective ways to reduce paranoia
Self-Regulation is important because social change is disruptive and, without trust, social change will be rejected or attacked. Reducing personal paranoia can become a group practice that enables the development of improved spaces which in turn creates the safer conditions necessary for neighborhoods, good governance, social enterprise, non-profit and corporate activity to develop mutually beneficial synergies.
Trust and Ethnic Tolerance in the Face of Social Change (2017)
The study’s results suggest that generalized trust and ethnic tolerance are interrelated. What links these processes are the collaborative relationships that form based on ties of friendship and neighborliness.
One way to learn to build trust is to collaborate on activities that improve the lives of vulnerable populations. The learning journey leads to greater awareness that we are all vulnerable and we overcome our vulnerabilities by reducing barriers.
World Health Innovation Summit Birmingham "Leaving No one Behind"
At CSTI we believe innovation and creativity is more enjoyable in communities of trust. New technologies such as synthetic biology are difficult to discuss in environments where fear and paranoia are high.
Contact World Health Innovation Summit (WHIS) - Kenya for more details on reducing paranoia and improving well-being in your community