April 02, 2008

From Tim Kelly:

Re: Paranoia rife among us, researchers say (March 31): I have to say I agree with most of your article, especially how many people are suspected of having ‘Paranoia’, however I don’t agree with the generalised term of ‘Paranoia’.

I do not disregard the word and the problems that it causes. I have a belief that this word ought to be looked at more carefully in terms of learned anxiety or learned fear and not be discounted by using the word paranoia. The word is used too glibly and is therefor dismissed to easily. The word has evolved into such statements as “you’re just being paranoid” leaving the person involved feeling dismissed and negated.

My experience of “irrational or imaginary fears” are that the majority of these fears are not ‘irrational or imaginary’. They are, in fact, very real. At least to the person suffering them.

And these fears usually come from past trauma or past negative experiences, and when looked at closely are very appropriate. After all, noone who gets bitten by a dog would be called ‘paranoid’ if they were to avoid dogs on future occasions.

People feeling that are being laughed at when they hear ‘innocent laughter’ may have very real reasons for thinking that it is they themselves that are being laughed at, especially if one goes back to school days and any form of bullying or intimidation.

Perhaps it would be better to choose another word, and let that evolve into more appropriate labelling of genuine occurrences where once ‘paranoia’ was used.

Obviously the word can be used in severe cases where a person is imagining things to the point where it is having extreme effects on themselves and others. This must not be confused with other forms of “fear” or “anxiety” that unfortunately fall under the same umbrella at present.

Tim Kelly


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