Paranoia for Beginners

No Escape
No Escape

A person who is paranoid has fears, such as being watched, harmed or poisoned. He or she does not trust others and is suspicious that others are “out to get” him or her.

It is normal to wonder if people are talking about you when you hear them whispering as you walk into a room. These thoughts are usually passed off and not dwelled upon for most people.

A person who is paranoid, however, does dwells upon suspicious thoughts. He or she goes out of their way to prove their suspicions even though no evidence exists to confirm their thoughts. It’s very hard to reason or speak what is real. Paranoia is usually found in small degrees in almost every mental illness.

Symptoms

  • Use and/or withdrawal of certain drugs, such as marijuana, crack cocaine and angel dust (PCP)
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Deafness or problems with hearing
  • Illnesses that affect the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, a stroke, a brain tumor
  • Mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
  • Paranoid personality disorder, (PPD)

How to Recognize Paranoia

A person with paranoia may also:

  • Appear cold and aloof
  • Be withdrawn and anxious in social situations
  • Act stubborn and combative
  • Appear “on guard” at all times, out of fear of being harmed

A paranoid person also:

  • Complains about his or her health and often feels vulnerable and inferior to others
  • Holds grudges easily
  • Displays bitterness and resentment toward others
  • May be easily drawn into religious cults or other groups with strict beliefs
  • Can have delusions of being persecuted

Treatment

Treatment for paranoia depends on its cause. If it is a symptom of another condition, treatment for the condition will often take care of or lessen the paranoia. Paranoid personality disorder is treated with counseling, support therapy and often with medication. Treatment for this disorder is not easy, though, due to the nature of paranoia. Persons who are paranoid often do not trust others including doctors, therapists or family members trying to help them get treatment. It is likely that you will need to intervene, patiently and gently.  Paranoia treatment requires a huge commitment.

What You Can Do for a Friend or Relative

The most important thing you can do is to encourage your friend or relative to get professional help. Be aware that you may need to make the initial appointment with a professional. You may also need to take them to the appointment and stay with them. Be supportive. Paranoia requires patience, understanding, love and encouragement of the person’s loved ones and friends.

Be aware of the types of medication your friend or relative takes and when they should take it. You should also alert their physician or psychiatrist to any side effects that you notice when they do or do not take their medication.  If I may, I would suggest a film for you to watch, “A Beautiful Mind“.  This may give you insight into what you are dealing with.

Further Resources

Cleveland Clinic PPD Intoduction Site http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/personality_disorders/hic_paranoid_personality_disorder.aspx

Suite 101 PPD Site http://personalitydisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/paranoid_personality_disorder

We Shall Sun Ourselves in the Smiles of God

Unknown Galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope
“Heaven is where the unveiled glories of the Deity shall beat full upon us, and we forever sun ourselves in the smiles of God.”

Ezekiel Hopkins, “A Puritan Golden Treasury”

Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the groom is with them, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they cannot fast. (Mark 2:19)

This was Jesus’ idea.  He was bringing correction to the lives of those who were very serious, and therefore most religious.  Our native tendency is to asceticism.  We evaluate ourselves religiously by our prayers and our fasts.  For serious people we have a serious religion, and we focus on doing serious religious activity, for that is what our faith demands.

Jesus pointed out that mournful faces are not indicators of a pious life.  How can His disciples mourn when Jesus the bridegroom is nearby? His disciples are going to a wedding, not a funeral!

I have never been to a “fun” funeral.  I have been to some where effort is made to be as upbeat as possible, but with mixed results.  Think for a moment, you and I are the special guests to the greatest wedding of all time.  Concert tickets to a “Beatles reunion” will pale in the light of the “Wedding Feast of the Lamb.”

Sack cloth and ashes do not befit the believer.  We are to know repentance and self-examination.  We should grieve over our sin, but that grief is to be based in hope, and in joy.  If you are saddened by sin, that sadness must be tethered to joy and not to despair.  Jesus has revolutionized forever the nature of religious faith.

The disciples could not mourn and fast while Jesus was present.   He does not wish His disciples to go mourning and fasting when they have no occasion for such exercises. His words are a defense of Christian joyfulness. Christ wants His friends to be glad. There is an utter incongruity in a sad and mournful Christian life.  It does not make sense in the light of what Jesus has done.

Our sins have been forgiven.  We have been dipped into the righteousness of the Son of God.  The fierce enemies of our souls have been eradicated by Jesus.  All of this is to bring out a song from a grateful heart.  We revel in the smile of Jesus and walk under the banner of a wonderous love.  We have His forgiveness and been given His favor.  We should be radiant!

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Our View From the Tree

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
3He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
 5When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
 7All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ “

Luke 19:1-7

This particular story is one of my personal favorites.  Zacchaeus faced with the chance of missing Jesus shows his resourcefulness by running ahead.  He positions himself up in a tree that grew by a busy road.  Climbing up he placed himself where he could see Jesus.

I can see Jesus stopping under Zacchaeus’ tree, looks up and calls him to come down. “I must stay at your house today”, Jesus declares.  Now there is some serious protocol issues here.  A guest never invited himself to dinner, that just didn’t happen.  Also Jesus, as an esteemed religious teacher/prophet/messiah was supposed to set an example and not to associate with “sinners”. Rules are being broken.

There are many lessons here for the modern disciple.  We would do well to meditate on the many issues imbedded in the text.  The graciousness of Jesus is profound.  He is kind and yet assertive at the same time.

Imagine if this account was all  the New Testament we had, what would our mindset be like?  I think we’d all have to make some adjustments. To put it simply, Jesus is not normal.  He touches peoples hearts in unorthodox ways.

I think what blesses me the most is Zacchaeus’ decision to climb that tree.  He is a man who is “vertically challenged.” But basically he overcomes his liabilities when he commits to climb up into the branches.  He positions himself to see Jesus, and you can’t say a thing against that. Zacchaeus’ adventure is just now begun.

But isn’t that is what we do as Christians?  We put ourselves in a place where we can be close to him.  Think about the ‘disciplines’ of the Christian.  Disciplines like prayer, fasting, Bible study, tithing, baptism, serving and worship.  All of these are like branches on the Sycamore tree.  Ascending we put ourselves in place where Jesus is coming.  It is a way of seeing Jesus. But, that is surely enough.

When I pray, I do so in order to see Him more clearly.  

I can get it all confused and see it as an end in itself.  This is a common flaw in our thinking.  We forget that all these disciplines do is to help us see Jesus. Nothing more– just to see Jesus, and to be seen by Him.

Zacchaeus did not stay in the tree, you might say the tree accomplished its purpose when Jesus drew close.  Zacchaeus did not say, “Jesus, I have this wonderful spot, and it took ‘effort’ to get here. I think I will stay right here.” No, he didn’t just want to climb– he wanted to see Jesus.

“Sir, we want to see Jesus.”  John 12:21

 

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