If, as a result of childhood trauma, we felt betrayed by our parent/primary carer in a way that deeply affected us, this could have lead to us developing a generally suspicious mind-set in our adult lives. This may entail beliefs that others are out to harm us or a feeling of being generally persecuted.
For example, during a period when I was unwell, I got into a minor argument with someone in a pub in London, and, later, over the next few days (possibly even weeks, my memory’s hazy on this) I was convinced he had engaged the services of a hit-man to shoot me. There was no evidence for this whatsoever, of course (although, in fairness to myself, the person I argued with was quite intimidating!).
Worse still, I would have periods of imagining all the different ways I might be tortured in ‘hell’ for all eternity. This is especially surprising and unfathomable as I am not at all religious (although my step-mother, who despised me and was deeply religious, did shout at me in what she believed to be ‘tongues’ around about the time I was thirteen years old : go figure!).
POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS :
If we have developed an unusually suspicious mind-set, symptoms may include :
– feeling we are being watched
– feeling others are talking about us (not in a complimentary way)
– people are using hints and double meanings in what they say to us with the intention to threaten us
– feeling others are ridiculing us behind our backs
– believing others are spreading malicious rumours about us
– believing others are trying to financially harm us (e.g. by somehow getting us fired from work)
and, at the more extreme end of the spectrum, crossing the boundary into paranoia :
– believing others are trying to poison our food/drink
– believing others can read our thoughts/broadcast our thoughts/control our thoughts
– believing the government intends to assassinate us for unknown reasons
WHY DO SUCH SYMPTOMS DEVELOP?
I provide three examples below:
1) As I stated previously, those of us who felt betrayed in childhood are at particular risk of developing such symptoms. For example, we may have been made to feel we were ‘intrinsically and irredeemably bad’ and therefore ‘deserve’ to be persecuted.
2) Alternatively, people who develop ‘delusions of grandeur’ (this can be linked to narcissistic personality disorder – click here to read my article on this) may be more prone to feelings of being persecuted, the subconscious thought process being ‘my importance and power mean people are jealous and fearful of me and therefore want to hurt me’ (or something running along similar lines).
3) Another possibility is that, if we were made to feel worthless and inadequate when we were young, we may, subconsciously, believe others are bound to notice our vulnerability and will therefore pick on us.
a – 4 in 5 believe a stranger has looked at them critically, without provocation
b – 1 in 3 believe that bad things are regularly said about them behind their backs
c – 9 in 10 believe the above (b) has happened to them at least once
d – 1 in 5 has at sometime felt the impression that they were under some kind of indefinable threat
e – TAKING STATISTICS AS A WHOLE, ABOUT 1 in 3 PEOPLE REGULARLY HAS SUSPICIOUS OR PARANOID THOUGHTS
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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).