Does your partner have trust issues and fears others might want to harm them?
Do they constantly find things to be offended by and respond to them by counter-attacking? Do they have difficulty talking openly about a problem out of fear that it might be used against them at some point? Do they constantly suspect you of being unfaithful – even if their suspicions are completely unfounded?
If your partner exhibits these traits in an extreme, constant, and intense manner, and they are affecting both of your lives in a significant way, then they might be suffering from a paranoid personality disorder.
And just like every other psychiatric condition, a personality disorder must be diagnosed by an expert who will investigate for the signs and symptoms listed in the DSM-5 diagnostic manual.
1. Interpreting other people’s motives as hostile due to deep suspicion and distrust.
This symptom can be observed in early adulthood and can present itself in several contexts. In order to be diagnosed, patients have to show paranoia in four of the following ways:
- Suspects, without sufficient evidence, that other people are exploiting, harming, or misleading him or her.
- The mind is filled with doubts about the honesty of friends or acquaintances.
- Is hesitant to confide in others out of fear that the information will be maliciously used against him or her.
- Reads everything as a personal attack.
- Is vengeful and unforgiving of insults, harm, or slight remarks made by others.
- Sees personal attacks on his or her character or reputation that others cannot notice, and is swift to react with anger or to fight back.
- Has recurrent suspicions, without evidence, regarding the sexual loyalty of their partner.
2. Paranoid personality disorder does not exclusively occur during the course of bipolar disorder or depressive disorder with psychotic features, schizophrenia, or another psychotic disorder, and is not attributed to the physiological effects of other medical conditions.
It may, however, have symptoms in common with schizophrenia, the main difference being that people with paranoid personality disorder do not hallucinate about things that are not happening – such as hearing voices as schizophrenics do.
What can you do if your partner suffers from paranoid personality disorder?
In order to help someone who suffers from this condition, it is advisable not to dispute the things they believe to be true. If they believe that someone has given them a dirty look for some reason, or they feel like someone is out to get them, don’t be quick to support or reject their claims. Rather, examine the feelings that are accompanied by their beliefs, and calmly respond in a way that might cause them to rethink their suspicions. Also, try to encourage your partner to seek the advice of an expert in the field if you believe things are truly going in a negative direction.
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