301.0 Paranoid Personality Disorder*

Associated Features and Disorders

Individuals with Paranoid Personality Disorder are generally difficult to get along with and often have problems with close relationships. Their excessive suspiciousness and hostility may be expressed in overt argumentativeness, in recurrent complaining, or by quiet, apparently hostile aloofness. Because they are hypervigilant for potential threats, they may act in a guarded, secretive, or devious manner and appear to be "cold" and lacking in tender feelings. Although they may appear to be objective, rational, and unemotional, they more often display a labile range of affect, with hostile, stubborn, and sarcastic expressions predominating. Their combative and suspicious nature may elicit a hostile response in others, which then serves to confirm their original expectations.

Because individuals with Paranoid Personality Disorder lack trust in others, they have an excessive need to be self-sufficient and a strong sense of autonomy. They also need to have a high degree of control over those around them. They are often rigid, critical of others, and unable to collaborate, although they have great difficulty accepting criticism themselves. They may blame others for their own shortcomings. Because of their quickness to counterattack in response to the threats they perceive around them, they may be litigious and frequently become involved in legal disputes. Individuals with this disorder seek to confirm their preconceived negative notions regarding people or situations they encounter, attributing malevolent motivations to others that are projections of their own fears. They may exhibit thinly hidden, unrealistic grandiose fantasies, are often attuned to issues of power and rank, and tend to develop negative stereotypes of others, particularly those from population groups distinct from their own. Attracted by simplistic formulations of the world, they are often wary of ambiguous situations. They may be perceived as "fanatics" and form tightly knit "cults" or groups with others who share their paranoid belief systems.

Particularly in response to stress, individuals with this disorder may experience very brief psychotic episodes (lasting minutes to hours). In some instances, Paranoid Personality Disorder may appear as the premorbid antecedent of Delusional Disorder or Schizophrenia. Individuals with this disorder may develop Major Depressive Disorder and may be at increased risk for Agoraphobia and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Alcohol and other Substance Abuse or Dependence frequently occur. The most common co-occurring Personality Disorders appear to be Schizotypal, Schizoid, Narcissistic, Avoidant, and Borderline.


Note: This excerpt is from the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. American Psychiatric Association. 1994.

It is intended to help you distinguish between the milder "stylistic" use of these terms by Shapiro and the formal sense in which they figure in professional clinical diagnosis.

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