The Social Context of Paranoia

“One of the core assumptions made when diagnosing paranoia is that the person is fearful or hostile because their beliefs about the intentions of others are false.”

In De-Medicalising Misery: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Human Condition, Chapter 5 – The Social Context of Paranoia – is written by clinical psychologist David Harper. It begins:

“’Psychiatry’, suggests Hornstein … ‘is the most contested field in medicine’ and, as Bracken and Thomas … note, ‘it is hard to imagine the emergence of “antipaediatrics” or “critical anaesthetics” movements’. But why is this so? One of the reasons is that there is often a fundamental disagreement about the meaning attributed to experience and who has the right to confer that meaning.

Experiences like paranoia are often decontextualized and stripped of meaning. For example, psychiatry variously classifies paranoia as a subtype of schizophrenia, a separate delusional disorder, or as a type of personality disorder. Yet arcane discussions of the differences between diagnostic subtypes distract from commonalities in the way paranoia is experienced.

In this chapter I investigate the concept of paranoia, paying attention to its contested nature …”

Read more within Chapter 5 of the book concerned.

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