What is paranoid personality disorder?

Paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is one of a group of conditions called Cluster A or eccentric personality disorders. People with these disorders often appear odd or peculiar. The essential characteristic of people with PPD is paranoia, a relentless mistrust and suspicion of others without adequate reason to be suspicious. This disorder often begins in childhood or early adolescence and appears to be more common in men than in women. Studies estimate that PPD affects between 2.3% and 4.4% of the general population.

What causes paranoid personality disorder?

The exact cause of PPD is not known, but it likely involves a combination of biological and psychological factors. The fact that PPD is more common in people who have close relatives with schizophrenia and delusional disorder suggests a genetic link between the two disorders (may run in the family). It is also believed that early childhood experiences, including physical or emotional trauma, play a role in the development of PPD.

What are the symptoms of paranoid personality disorder?

People with PPD are always on guard, believing that others are constantly trying to demean, harm, or threaten them. These generally unfounded beliefs, as well as their habits of blame and distrust, interfere with their ability to form close or even workable relationships. People with this disorder:

  • Doubt the commitment, loyalty, or trustworthiness of others, believing others are exploiting or deceiving them.
  • Are reluctant to confide in others or reveal personal information because they are afraid the information will be used against them.
  • Are unforgiving and hold grudges.
  • Are hypersensitive and take criticism poorly.
  • Read hidden meanings in the innocent remarks or casual looks of others.
  • Perceive attacks on their character that are not apparent to others; they generally react with anger and are quick to retaliate.
  • Have persistent suspicions, without reason, that their spouses or lovers are being unfaithful.
  • Are generally cold and distant in their relationships with others, and might become controlling and jealous to avoid being betrayed.
  • Cannot see their role in problems or conflicts, believing they are always right.
  • Have difficulty relaxing.
  • Are hostile, stubborn, and argumentative.
  • Tend to develop negative stereotypes of others, especially those from different cultural groups.