If we talk about the typology of personality, according to “Psychoanalytic Diagnostics” Nancy McWilliams, she identifies several leading types. In this article, consider the paranoid personality type. The article is based on the principle of gradual illumination of the main features of the type, its characteristics, signs, and features of the psychologist’s work with it. The reader who is interested in self-development, self-knowledge, and the study of psychology will find in this article information about one of the personality types.
PSYCHOLOGICAL FEATURES OF THE PARANOID PERSONALITY TYPE
The leading characteristics of the paranoid personality type are suspicion, alertness, lack of or blunted sense of humor.
The paranoid personality treats its qualities as negative, projecting them outside. And then they are perceived as an external threat. We can say that everything that this person worries about and experiences is in her. For example, such a person may not realize that in some of his manifestations he is quite aggressive and, projecting this quality on other people, notes these traits in them.
It is also often possible to observe the consciousness of their own greatness in paranoids.
A paranoid person must suffer very much to seek psychological help, they are not disposed to trust strangers. And in this regard, they tend to avoid consulting with psychologists and trust few people.
Paranoid personalities often play political roles where their projective traits can be contrasted with existing views. They can “climb on an armored car”, proving something to someone. However, it is important to note that such people do not always exaggerate the real danger. However, they can also be ironic and suspicious.
THE DRIVES, AFFECTS, AND TEMPERAMENT OF PARANOID INDIVIDUALS
About paranoid personalities, we can say that they are less suicidal than depressive ones. They are often unfriendly. They have a high degree of internal aggression and irritability.
It is difficult for a child to control their reactions, they may have an inner feeling that they are being persecuted.
In social interactions, paranoids may not be adaptive. Hyperexcitability is also noted. They struggle with hostile feelings, and they have many different fears.
Most often, paranoids have a combination of fear and shame. This can lead to quirkiness. Such people are vigilant about all interactions of other people with each other and with them.
Narcissistic individuals can be subjected to a sense of shame if they are somehow “unmasked”. Attempts are made to impress others in such a way that the devalued self is not noticed by them. Paranoid individuals, on the other hand, use negation and projection. Shame remains completely unattainable within the Self. Therefore, the paranoid personality rushes straight at those who try to shame, humiliate them. At the same time, narcissistic individuals are afraid to discover their own inconsistency with some standards, and paranoid individuals are afraid of judging other people.
In paranoids, it is possible to note a focus on the motives of other people, instead of focusing on their own “I”. They like to discuss possible motivations and the consequences of other people’s actions.
Paronoid personalities are vulnerable to envy. They cope with it by projection, believing that they envy them. In fact, we can say that they can project and deny the qualities of other people that are in them. For example, the fact that they were betrayed.
Paranoid individuals project qualities that they may not notice or deny about themselves. For example, an office employee who is constantly late may make comments about this to other employees.
Paranoid individuals are not always aware of the feelings of guilt that are projected as well as shame. They believe that the psychologist, having learned about their sins, will reject them. They transform any sense of guilt into a threat from outside. The fear of being exposed pushes them to recognize them earlier than others, thereby preventing evil intentions towards them.
PROTECTIVE AND ADAPTIVE PROCESSES IN PARANOIA
The degree of projection in paranoids can be borderline or neurotic.
In a disturbed personality, the Ego is completely projected and is located outside, regardless of how these projections may look to other people.
Individuals with a preserved Self still have the opportunity to test reality.
Borderline personalities act to make their projections suitable for the projection target. For example, a woman who does not recognize her hatred and envy may tell her psychologist that he is jealous of her. And she interprets the psychologist’s empathic manifestations as a desire to control.
In neurotic paranoids, their feelings are projected in a way that is potentially alien to the Ego. Such a person projects, but at the same time there is a part of his own “I”, which, when forming a trusting working alliance of the client with the psychologist, can reach the level of awareness.
Paranoid individuals project their feelings outside of themselves, including in order not to recognize an off-balance relationship.
Psychologist Karen, studying paranoid dynamics, summarized the main psychological defense mechanisms of the individual. For example, how a person with delusions can cope with the desire for intimacy with a person of their own sex. At the same time, the personality seeks to refute “I love him!” through a number of ways:
Megalomania: “I don’t love him, I love myself!»
Erotomania: “I don’t love him, I love her!”
Delusional jealousy: “I don’t love him, she loves him!»
Projection of homosexuality: “I don’t love him, he loves me!”
Reactive formation: “I don’t love him, I hate him!”
What allows me to hate him: “He hates me! If I hate him, I don’t love him!”
INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS IN PARANOIA
A child who has grown up paranoid suffers from feelings of his own reality. He was subjected to periodic suppression and humiliation. The family can broadcast to the child that they are the only ones who can be trusted. This makes the child suspicious of other people.
Paranoid individuals of the borderline or neurotic level come out of the family system, where critical attitude and ridicule prevail. A child can be a “scapegoat”.
Uncontrolled anxiety can trigger the development of paranoia in children. When a child came to such a parent with a problem, he either imagined the situation to be disastrous, because he could not bear the child’s anxiety, or devalued it, because he could not condense it. Such an adult transmitted to the child that thoughts are equivalent to actions. And the child perceived that his personal feelings had a dangerous power.
In childhood, paranoid individuals did not have the opportunity to express their feelings in a natural and safe way. In the office of a psychologist with such clients, a specialist trains paranoid individuals to do this.
It can also be said that paranoid individuals are capable of deep attachment and relationships.
PARANOID SELF “I”
The paranoid client despises his own humiliated personality. He has a high degree of fear, which leads to the fact that he constantly “monitors others”, observes their reactions, “keeps his finger on the pulse”. Paranoids believe that they are the target of everyone around them, that people think and talk only about them.
It is also important to note that paranoids have a high sense of guilt.
Statistically, there was a link between thoughts about homosexuality and paranoid personalities, this was confirmed by some studies.
Paranoids can fight against existing authorities. Revenge and triumph provide a temporary and shallow sense of security and moral clarity.
TRANSFERENCE AND COUNTERTRANSFERENCE WITH PARANOID PERSONALITIES
Transference in paranoid clients is fast and intense. The psychologist is the recipient of the projection of the image of the rescuer. But more often the psychologist is seen as not supporting, humiliating type. Such clients believe that the psychologist is trying to save them or, on the contrary, is focused on causing suffering. They regard a psychological assessment, believing that the psychologist wants to feel his own superiority.
Paranoid individuals may look closely at the psychologist. This can cause a sense of vulnerability and total protection. The transfer here can be hostile and less often benevolent.
Countertransference can look like an opportunity to directly point out to the client that what the person sees as a danger is not realistic.
THERAPEUTIC RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE DIAGNOSIS OF ” PARANOIA ”
The first requirement is to establish a stable working alliance with a psychologist. This is necessary for building trust, which will make it possible to build effective interaction.
If the paranoid client trusts the psychologist, then the work can be considered completed.
The main task for the specialist will be to increase the access of the paranoid person to the inner world of the client.
Jokes within reasonable limits can safely defuse aggression. They may relate to those topics within which the work is currently being built. For example, a client who is unnecessarily worried about how he will look on a date, you can say something like: “If you think that you will be examined under a microscope, take a blood and urine test, then be sure that your partner is also worried.” This, of course, is possible only after the basic trust is built in the psychological session.
If paranoids feel that their opinions are valued, they will become more open. You can find a way to demonstrate this to them. In addition, it is important to give the opportunity to speak out.
Together with a psychologist to investigate what led to such reactions. This encourages separation, which will eliminate transfers.
It is important to teach paranoid clients to notice what is causing their paranoia. Starting from observing your own body and reactions and ending with external factors that can trigger anxiety symptoms.
It is also very important with paranoids to consider other causes besides those used by paranoid personalities. Give me a chance to think about it myself. There are customers who want ready-made, or even better, quick solutions to their problems. But at the same time, they do not always understand that instead of getting a fishing rod and in the future independently solve current problems that will arise in their lives, they want to immediately get a fish.
Emphasize the differences between thoughts and actions. “Just enjoy the fantasy!”. To think about something does not mean to do it.
The psychologist should be very attentive to the boundaries. This can affect the paranoid’s sense of security. May cause an alarm. You can do something about psychological boundaries if you can identify them. And their identification is realistic only after the discovery of themselves.
A paranoid client versus a psychopathic one: if the paranoid person notes that you share their values with them, then they are capable of loyalty and generosity. Projection is a psychological defense mechanism in psychopathic and paranoid individuals. However, the former are not empathic, and paranoid personalities are deeply connected to the object (for example, another person). The threat can be the experience of betrayal. They perceive any moral violations in their partner as a vice in themselves that should be eradicated.
Paranoid personalities compared to absessives: the latter are sensitive to small things, they are afraid of control, but do not experience the fear of physical damage, moral humiliation, which is characteristic of paranoid personalities. Absessive clients try to cooperate with a psychologist, although they may have alternative positions. A violent reaction to clarifications in the work may indicate that this client is dominated by paranoid qualities.
Paranoid personality versus dissociative personality: Paranoid traits may be present in dissocial personalities.