Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is a condition in which an individual experiences an excessive degree of distrust regarding other people’s actions and motivations. People with PPD tend to assume anyone they interact with has a hidden evil motive, and many of the behaviors used to contend with this belief can result in others becoming openly hostile. The disorder is more prevalent among men and can cause serious issues with forming and maintaining relationships, handling criticism, and working alongside others.
PPD usually manifests in early adulthood and is rarely related to other conditions which are characterized by extreme paranoid delusions, such as schizophrenia. Like all personality disorders, PPD is classified by a long-standing tendency to adhere to beliefs or engage in behaviors that have very negative consequences for individual sufferers or other people who interact with them. People with PPD are always wary that someone else is going to manipulate or harm them in some way. The high level of confidence they have in their paranoid thoughts often leads them to openly bring unfounded accusations against other people and act in ways that can be described as invasive or deceptive. Alternatively, people with PPD might also act incredibly secretive, deciding to avoid others and hide things to an excessive degree.
While the visible symptoms of PPD can arise in many different fashions, the underlying process of thinking remains the same. Individuals with the disorder will almost always have diminished collaborative ability due to their constant suspicion of others. Emotional coldness is not uncommon, and a constant need to control the people around them prevents the formation of new relationships and severely damages already established ones. This can be seen most prominently in romantic relationships, where individuals with PPD will be overly concerned their significant other is cheating on them, regardless of whether there is any evidence this is the case.
PPD can be difficult to deal with, as it has a tendency to make sufferers fixate on things that are largely innocuous. Small comments or actions that would be considered negligible to most people are thought to be subtle insults or indications of deception in the mind of someone with PPD. Frequently, important information is not relayed to others for fear that it will be used for some nefarious purpose in the future.
A diagnostics test for PPD can only be conducted by a certified mental health professional, mainly a psychologist or a psychiatrist. There is a list of diagnostic criteria that professionals will compare to an individual’s mentality and behavioral history to assess whether they have PPD. Treatment usually consists of psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, which has the ultimate goal of getting patients to understand the legitimacy of their paranoid thoughts and how to better manage their emotional reactions to situations.