The 10 Personality Disorders: Paranoid Personality Disorder

This post is intended to list characteristics of personality disorders, causes & treatments.

*These are characteristics often observed in a personality disorder though every feature may not apply to each specific personality disorder. Appreciate what is of value to you in this post and leave the rest.

Individuals with a personality disorder often experience chronic, pervasive difficulty with relationships, impulse control, & emotions. The features may be present in childhood, often become prominent in teen years, but often a diagnosis is withheld until adulthood.  Typically, a personality disorder is in sync with one’s ego. Due to this the person may lack self-awareness and externalize the problems associated with their personality disorder. Personality disorders can co-occur.

In order for a diagnosis a person must exhibit difficulty in at least one of the four, (among other criteria specific to the personality disorder);

  • Distorted thinking
  • Problematic emotional responses
  • Over or under regulated impulse control
  • Interpersonal difficulties

Data supports that any person with a personality disorder is more likely to have a substance use disorder. Though, sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate which is causing the other. Personality disorders should be diagnosed with caution.

Personality disorders are grouped into clusters based on common similarities;

Cluster A: Social withdrawal or awkwardness driven by distorted thinking

Cluster B: Dramatic, impulsive and emotional thinking/behavior

Cluster C: Driven by fear


Paranoid Personality Disorder


[Cluster A]


  • More common in those born male
  • Suspicious
  • Targets for bullying
  • Hypersensitive
  • Lack of trust
  • Vigilant
  • Will find evidence to support their fears/distorted thinking
  • Sense of personal right
  • Others are out to get them
  • May distance themselves

“It’s amazing where the paranoid mind can take you”

Bill Ayers

  • Holds grudges
  • Preoccupied with mistrust
  • Feel they’re being taken advantage of
  • Feel threatened
  • Lack of close relationships
  • Doubts loyalty of others

Often suspicion and mistrust becomes a barrier for treatment

  • Pathological jealousy
  • Gravitate towards solitude
  • Elevated risk if schizophrenia in family
  • Often hostile
  • Perceive harmless intent as malicious
  • Quick to react

“A paranoid thinks that sinister forces are out to get him, not realizing that they are out to get everybody.”

Robert Breault


It is widely accepted that cluster A personality disorders are caused by a combination of brain chemistry, genetics, childhood trauma, and environmental factors.


Therapy & Medication | All treatment should be in collaboration, if possible. Forcing a person into treatment or arguing with someone’s beliefs can be counterproductive.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT | Aim is to focus on the distorted or irrational thinking that often becomes a barrier in interpersonal relationships

Support groups | Able to be validated yet therapeutically focus on their irrational thinking,

Group therapy | May see how others thoughts are irrational and begin to question their own

Family therapy | Can help family members become supportive and more constructive

Medications | Most common are SSRI & Benzodiazepines

Though benzodiazepines come with a risk of dependency they can be particularly helpful with severe anxiety that can accompany this personality disorder.

Antipsychotics, specifically Zyprexa & Risperdal can be particularly helpful. These medications can offset some of the pervasive irrational thinking. In this personality disorder, that can offer huge benefits.

“Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant- it tends to get worse.” Molly Ivins

richard NIxon

Richard Nixon was thought to have paranoid personality disorder


There’s no beauty without difference and diversity. Love unconditionally.

Rasheed Ogunlaru

More on Paranoid Personality Disorder


For the other 9 personality Disorders or other mental health topics visit