A Chinese menu of paranoia characteristics: do you recognize anybody?

Part I of my work in progress, How I Learned the Facts of Life, is subtitled “The Facts of Life.” So, logically, Part II is subtitled “The Fakes of Life.”

In my intro to Part II, I found myself using the word “paranoia” several times, I can’t imagine why. Having done so, though, I thought it’d be useful for readers to have the facts about paranoia — a working applicable definition.

My psychiatric dictionary wasn’t lively. I found on Wikipedia a more engaging and understandable definition of paranoid personality disorder (subsequently, annoyingly, referred to as “PPD” — one more of these three letter things and I’m going to do something radical, I don’t know what. I mean, I’m still puzzling over bunches of letters people use on Twitter…but this isn’t what I was going to write so…)

Wikipedia published the following from the World Health Organization definition.

Like any good fun menu, you get a choice of at least three of these items before you can officially label yourself as paranoid. Give it a try, why not?

1. excessive sensitivity to setbacks and rebuffs;
2. tendency to bear grudges persistently (i.e. refusal to forgive insults and injuries or slights);
3. suspiciousness and a pervasive tendency to distort experience by misconstruing the neutral or friendly actions of others as hostile or contemptuous;
4. a combative and tenacious sense of self-righteousness out of keeping with the actual situation;
5. recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding sexual fidelity of spouse or sexual partner;
6. tendency to experience excessive self-aggrandizing, manifest in a persistent self-referential attitude;
7. preoccupation with unsubstantiated “conspiratorial” explanations of events both immediate to the patient and in the world at large.

Includes: expansive paranoid, fanatic, querulant and sensitive paranoid personality disorder.

Hm. Do you recognize any or all of these characteristics in someone you know?

P.S. If you don’t spot any of the above qualities in yourself and feel like giving paranoia a try, here is my own personally tested method: don’t sleep for at least one night and during that time don’t consume anything but water. Then go out onto a street where people are strolling and listen to their conversations.

In such a weird state, I heard two guys cheerfully chat about a murder they’d witnessed, in which the body was dismembered in a bathtub. Good lord — what dark conspiracies were going on out there?

It took me an hour or so before I realized they were talking about a scene in The Sopranos. (Probably.)

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