Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Paranoia from Encyclopedia of Alzheimer's Disease: With Directories of Research, Treatment and Care Facilities

Paranoia refers to psychosis characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations; a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.

Summary Article: Paranoia
from Black's Medical Dictionary, 43rd Edition

A condition whose main characteristic is the delusion (see DELUSIONS) that other people are (in an unclear way) connected to the affected individual. A sufferer from paranoia constructs a complex of beliefs based on his or her interpretation of chance remarks or events. Persecution, love, jealousy and self-grandeur are among the emotions evoked. Acute paranoia – a history of less than six months – may be the result of drastic changes in a person's environment, such as war, imprisonment, famine or even leaving home for the first time. Chronic paranoia may be caused by brain damage, substance abuse (including alcohol and cannabis), SCHIZOPHRENIA or severe DEPRESSION. Those affected may become constantly suspicious and angry and tend to live an isolated existence, exhibiting difficult and odd behaviour. Often believing themselves to be normal, they do not seek or reject treatment. If treated early with antipsychotic drugs, they often recover; if not, the delusions and accompanying erratic behaviour become entrenched. (See MENTAL ILLNESS.)

Copyright © A & C Black Publishers Ltd

Related Articles

Full text Article paranoia
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

A mental disorder in which the patient is governed by a system of irrational beliefs (delusions). The sufferer may believe that he is being...

Full text Article Paranoia
Encyclopedia of Human Behavior

Paranoia is a thought disorder predominantly characterized by an intense, but irrational mistrust and suspicion of others, and a corresponding...

Full text Article Paranoia
Reader's Guide to the Social Sciences

Bercherie Paul , Les Fondements de la clinique: histoire et structure du savoir psychiatrique [The Foundations of the Clinic: History...

See more from Credo