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SELF MANAGING PARANOIA

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Paranoia is disabling, paralyzing, and manageable without a lot of clinical jargon. Paranoia puts limits and restrictions on our everyday experiences. The limitations are self-imposed. Paranoia is an internal experience that impacts how people perceive their external world.

Cut off from your previous understanding of the world, paranoia creeps into our mental outlook, almost undetectable. By the time you might begin to experience paranoia, there are so many fearful thoughts it can be hard to make rational sense of the world. Paranoia can cause people to become defensive and dispute the input of beliefs of other people. If you ever encounter someone experiencing paranoid thinking, do not challenge their perception too much as it can do more damage than good to clear up distorted thoughts.

Many of the people I’ve worked with as a therapist were paranoid. I’ve experienced paranoia first hand during the constellations of symptoms activating from first-episode psychosis. From my lived experience, I was able to get a first-hand understanding of how paranoia complicates the lives of people living with it. I also teased out how untreated paranoia can only further impact a good prognosis for people with comorbid mental health issues.

There is no reason to live with paranoia. Paranoia is fear, and fear stops us from celebrating every moment of our existence. So, how do we stop it? Eliminate it?

The most important place to start is assessing what you are afraid of and categorizing it into three domains of fear. 

The categories include: 

1) letting our small critical thoughts snowball into major fears, 

2) eclipsing hopes and limiting our future-oriented thinking, 

3) combining our fears or apocalyptic projections

We are critical because we care. We want to manage our lives effectively and precisely. But these little critical thoughts can snowball into major crippling fears that stop us from getting out of bed or being social and making new friends. Why let that happen? Check-in with yourself. Self-monitor and find a balance internally with your thoughts.

Ever look forward to something? Future-oriented thinking keeps us motivated and happy about time elapsing, in plain language, of experiencing every moment of every day. Paranoia stops us from experiencing our days because we are so pained we stop and detach. Do anything to stop the internal fear from strangling other aspects of our lives.

The worst thing you can do to make paranoia worse is combined fears. A hurricane is a terrible news, but flooding due to high winds and water is worse. See what I mean? Please don’t do it!

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice in New York City. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist, and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a ‘2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10’ award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes about his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

‘I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery,’ Guttman says. ‘After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my ‘break,’ I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others.’

‘In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity, and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and Recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients.’

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