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A condition in which the central main feature is the delusion that events or people are particularly connected to oneself.  The term paranoia can also be used to describe feelings of persecution.  A person suffering with paranoia builds up an elaborate set of beliefs based on the interpretation of change remarks or events.  Typical themes are jealousy, persecution, love and grandeur (belief in one’s own superior powers and position).

Types and causes

Paranoia can be acute or chronic.

Acute paranoia, lasting for less than six months, can arise in those people who have experienced dramatic life changes, such as refugees.  In shared paranoia, delusion develops because of someone else who has the delusion. 

Chronic paranoia can be caused by abuse of alcohol or amphetamines, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and brain damage.  It is also a feature of paranoid personality disorder, which is a psychological condition that causes people to be consistently suspicious of the motives of other people.


There are mainly no other symptoms of mental illness apart from the rare hallucination.  In time, however, the suspicion, anger, and social isolation can become extreme.


If acute illness is treated early on with antipsychotic drugs, the outlook is positive.  In long-standing cases of paranoia, however, the delusions are often firmly entrenched, but antipsychotic drugs can make them less debilitating.

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