Am I just paranoid? You asked Google – here’s the answer

Every day millions of internet users ask Google life’s most difficult questions, big and small. Our writers answer some of the commonest queries

Paranoia is the erroneous idea that people are targeting you for harm. We don’t talk about it nearly enough, but every day each of us must decide whether or not to trust other people. There’s no way around these decisions: they’re an inevitable part of life. Real threats do exist, so not to consider risks would be naive. The difficulty is that we seldom know what another person is actually thinking, least of all when we are the topic. It is easy to misread the intentions of others. But when we are overly suspicious, too mistrustful, then we are advancing along the paranoia spectrum.

It is increasingly being accepted that paranoid thoughts are much more widespread than previously thought
There are daily reminders that the modern world is dangerous: news bulletins, CCTV cameras, and public security announcements are just several of many constant reminders to be wary. But paranoia has always been with us. Francis Bacon, the Renaissance philosopher, captured the danger of tilting our worldview to the mistrustful: “Suspicions amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds – they ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or, at the least, well guarded. For they cloud the mind, they lose friends, and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently and constantly. They dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy.”

Excessive mistrust ends in the psychologically painful position of isolation; Graham Greene, in The Ministry of Fear, describes how, “it is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself.”

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Very interesting article, the way it talks about trust. Seems obvious but the truth is that is a very necessary step to overcome paranoia. Either trust in others and in ourselves, in the context of schizophrenia, when so often we don’t know if we can trust our own thoughts.

Thanks for sharing this.