Category Archives: Paranoia

Those Raised In Care Homes More Likely To Develop Paranoia

 

raised in care home

In the past, research on how schizophrenia develops in individuals focused heavily on genetic factors. However, more recent research is now making it increasingly clear that the environment in which we grew up is strongly related to our chances of developing a psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia, in adulthood. Indeed, a meta-analysis of the relevant research, conducted at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, suggests that those individuals who were brought up in the care system are at significantly increased risk of developing paranoia (often a major symptom of schizophrenia) as adults.

Schizophrenia (including, of course, paranoid schizophrenia) is a form of psychosis (psychosis involves the affected person losing touch with reality / entering delusional states). The research conducted by the University of Liverpool also revealed that those who suffered severe childhood trauma were at significantly increased risk of developing not just paranoia, but a range of psychotic conditions. One figure derived from this research is quite staggering : in cases of severe childhood trauma, the individual affected may be 5,000% (i.e. 50 times) more likely to develop psychosis than the average person.

In connection with those who had suffered any form of trauma during childhood, such individuals were found to be at a 300% (3 times higher) increased risk of developing psychosis later on in life when compared to the average.

The bottom-line is, we may conclude from this research, is that the environment (i.e. the degree to which it is experienced as traumatic) in which one grows up is strongly associated with one’s risk of developing a psychotic disorder in later life.

 

And, just as it has already been found that being brought up in a care home increases one’s risk of developing paranoia later in life, it is thought other specific forms of psychosis may be linked to other specific forms of childhood trauma – however, research into this area is still at an early stage.

Finally, it should also be stated that genetic factors may also play a role; for example, some individuals may be ‘genetically’ more resilient to the adverse effects of trauma than others. Further research into this area, too,  needs to be conducted so that the role of genes in the development of psychosis may be more fully understood.

In the past, people with psychotic conditions have largely been treated according to the medical model (sometimes called the biological model) of mental illness; in other words, with medication. However, the above findings suggest that non-medicinal interventions may also be vitally required, such as ‘talk therapies’- therapies of this type may help the individual to process, and come to terms with, his/her traumatic past. One such therapy is trauma-focused cognitive therapy.

 

RESOURCES :

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Childhood Trauma Leading To Adult Paranoia

rp_cropped-childhood-trauma-fact-sheet1.png

If we suffered from childhood trauma, particularly if, as a child, we felt frequently persecuted, then, all else being equal, we are more likely to develop symptoms of paranoia in our adult lives than those who were fortunate enough to have experienced a relatively benign childhood.

In this post, I will focus on how FAULTY REASONING, also known as COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS, are a major contributory factor in fueling symptoms of paranoid. Such faulty reasoning has its roots in adverse childhood experience.

I will look at four main types of faulty reasoning. These are:

1) A need for certainty

2) Blaming others

3) Jumping to conclusions

4) A failure to look for alternative explanations

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

1) Need for certainty:

When we are under stress and occurrences take place that upset us and disturb our peace of mind there is a human tendency to develop a strong desire to obtain a definite reason why the event happened (as, theoretically, if we know the true cause, we put ourselves in a less vulnerable position).  However, this need for knowledge may become so potent that it can, potentially, lead us to preferring an upsetting explanation to no explanation at all/being forced to live in an uncomfortable state of uncertainty and ignorance.

Indeed, cognitive therapists, who help to treat people who suffer from serious psychological problems compounded by their tendency to employ faulty reasoning, have found that individuals who can accept living with uncertainty are less likely to develop suspicious/paranoid thoughts.

2) Blaming others:

When unpleasant events happen to us we assign the cause to one of two categories. These are:

a) internal factors

b) external factors

(or, of course, to a combination of both).

If we attribute the cause to internal factors, this tends to mean we blame ourselves; if, on the other hand, we attribute the cause of the unwanted event to external factors, this will tend to mean that we see the negative happening as having been outside of, and beyond, our personal control.

For example, let’s say I’ve just failed an exam. I may attribute my failure to:

a) internal factors (eg I failed to revise adequately or am simply too stupid to have passed)

or, alternatively, I may attribute it to:

b) external factors, thus exonerating myself from responsibility (eg whilst I sat the exam it was 98 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade outside and the air conditioning had broken down, or, the person next to me impaired my concentration with his constant hiccuping).

If I am the type of person who tends to attribute my problems to the kind of explanation represented by the second example of ‘b’,above ( the habitual hiccuper) and, therefore, tends to blame external factors/ other people when undesirable things happen to me, then, research suggests, I am also more likely to be the kind of person who suffers from suspicious/ paranoid thoughts.

In the case of my example, if I was very paranoid indeed I might even think that the relentless hiccuper was only pretending to have hiccups simply to distract and infuriate me (perhaps, I might think, I have an enemy who was paying him ten pence per hiccup).

3) Jumping to conclusions:

Anxiety may compel us to jump to hasty conclusions without gathering, scrutinising and assessing all of the relevant evidence.

This is related to:

4) Ignoring alternative, less upsetting explanations for what has happened.

Above: Some people suffering from clinical paranoia believe a powerful secret angency is spying on them and monitoring their every move.

Why Paranoid Thoughts May Persist.

Once we start to think in paranoid ways, we may set off a chain of behaviours and beliefs which perpetuate our paranoid thoughts. Examples include:

– CONFIRMATION BIAS : this is a common error (and is certainly not limited to paranoid thinking). It involves focusing on evidence that supports one’s theory, whilst ignoring or minimising the, quite possibly more compelling evidence, against it.

– BEHAVING IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR ERRONEOUS PARANOID BELIEFS : eg by avoiding situations we (falsely) believe to be threatening and dangerous. This perpetuates our fear as we do not allow ourselves to confront and master the fear. It also prevents us from learning that the previously feared situation is not a danger to us after all.

– NOT SEEKING HELP WITH AN ANXIETY CONDITION (anxiety and paranoid thinking are closely linked)

– NOT SEEKING HELP FOR A DEPRESSIVE CONDITION (depression leads to the kind of negativity that paranoid thinking thrives upon

RESOURCES :

Reduce suspicious thinking hypnosis MP3, available for immediate download. Click HERE.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE( FAHE).

 

 

Constant Feelings of Threat/Paranoia And Their Link To Childhood Trauma

 
 
If we felt frequently threatened as young children, and this occurred over a significant period of time, it is not at all improbable that THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM WAS ADVERSELY AFFECTED.
 
Our nervous system is involved with our physiological response to stress and, in the situation described above, it can become ‘stuck’ in this RESPONSE TO STRESS STAGE, leading us to feel constantly FEARFUL and IN DANGER; or, in other words, as if our nervous system is on PERMANENT ‘RED ALERT’. This is an exhausting and extremely painful mental state to be in, and, indeed, was one that I myself suffered for more years than I care to recall: it can, at worst, take on the form of feeling in a permanent state of psychotic terror, leading to suicidal intent.
 
 
INCOMPLETE BIOLOGICAL STEPS OF THE STRESS RESPONSE :
 
The typical, healthy, biological response to stress can be described as consisting of five major stages (see below). Let’s look at what happens when we fail to complete all five stages, as can occur if the development of our nervous system was harmed by the constant threat we may have felt when we were growing up.
 
 
BIOLOGICAL STAGES :
 
 
1) STARTLE RESPONSE – if we were constantly in a state of fear as a child, our STARTLE RESPONSE can be hypersensitive in our adulthood and therefore too easily activated, and over-activated, in response to even very mild perceived threats.
 
 
2) SCANNING THE ENVIRONMENT FOR DANGER – if we were constantly anticipating danger as children, once we become adults we may find we are constantly on-edge and hypervigilant, looking for, and perceiving, danger everywhere
 
 
3) EVALUATING LEVEL OF DANGER – if we were mistreated as a child in an unpredictable manner, it is very likely that, as adults, we will tend to greatly overestimate the level of danger posed by a perceived threat.
 
 
4) FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE – when we perceive ourselves to be in danger, we instinctively respond with a ‘FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE’ RESPONSE.
 
If such a response was frequently activated as we grew up, due to mistreatment we received from our parents or primary caregivers, the same reactions will tend to be far too easily triggered when we’re adults (ie the ‘fight/flight/freeze’ response becomes overly sensitive, so we may, for example, become disproportionally angry over anything that makes us feel we are under threat (the ‘FIGHT’ RESPONSE). SUCH ANGER IS A DEFENCE MECHANISM LEARNED IN CHILDHOOD.
 
 
5) RELEASE OF RESIDUAL ENERGY AND REST – if we felt in perpetual danger as a child, it is possible we never reached this stage and continue not to reach it in adulthood, becoming, instead, stuck at one of the earlier four stages in response to a perceived threat. Relief and respite from fear and anxiety can, therefore, remain frustratingly elusive.
 
At present, COGNITIVE-BEHAVIORAL THERAPY (CBT) IS ONE OF THE LEADING TREATMENTS FOR SUCH PROBLEMS and there is increasing evidence that EMDR,  NEUROFEEDBACK YOGAandTrauma Release Exercises can be very effective.
 
 
 
 
 
 
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)