Paranoia: The Downfall of Greatness


We always hear the term “paranoia”, which is often linked to the word “madness”, and that is true; yet, not in the common sense of madness. Paranoia is a common disease that people, and perhaps entire communities, suffer from worldwide. It has several forms and types that differ in terms of symptoms and treatment methods.

Paranoia is a mental illness that causes patients to suffer from controlling ideas and beliefs that have a special logic invented by the patient’s mind. The behavior of a paranoid person is characterized by suspicion, mistrust, and excessive obstinacy to validate his/her beliefs and ideas. Moreover, the patient’s reactions are exaggerated toward any behavior—even normal behaviors—from other people. The patient believes that he/she is being persecuted one way or the other, by other people, believing they are conspiring to make fun of him/her, or even thinking of killing him/her.


Generally, it is hard to identify specific symptoms of any psychiatric illness, because some symptoms are similar; however, each disease has certain distinguishing symptoms. A paranoid personality is distinguished by:

  • A constant belief that others are deceiving him/her and are plotting against him/her.
  • Elevated self-esteem and an exaggerated feeling of grandeur.
  • Extreme fear to provide information about himself/herself, even to close people, fearing they would use it against him/her.
  • A sense of persecution and suspicion in people surrounding him/her.
  • Expecting lack of sincerity from others.
  • Sometimes, symptoms develop into audio–visual hallucinations.

It is not necessary for a paranoid person to suffer from all these symptoms combined; the type of paranoia is the determining characteristic of its symptom.


  • Persecution Paranoia: The patient feels that everyone persecutes him/her for ethnic, religious, or other reasons of his invention, which he/she believes in.
  • Grandeur Paranoia: Celebrities suffering from problems in the formation of their personalities, and people who are already exposed to harm or harassment from others, are those who suffer most from this disease. This causes them to imagine grandeur or that they have supernatural powers.
  • Delusional Disorder: You may have heard of people who died from delusion. This is true; this patient imagines he/she is suffering from an illness and feels pain in a certain area or all over his/her body, or that he/she has a terminal disease. Analysis and professional opinions show that he/she is healthy; however, the condition of paranoia gets worse day after day, leading to death.
  • Melancholia Paranoia: The patient feels a permanent guilt complex, believing that all disasters are caused by him/her in one form or another. The patient feels that he/she is responsible for the consequences, and is haunted by a constant guilt, believing that he/she deserves punishment that can sometimes lead to suicide.

Paranoia Celebrities

As mentioned before, Grandeur Paranoia is most common among celebrities and high-ranking officials; however, tackling specific figures remains tricky. Most people around the patient, as well as the patient himself/herself, avoid talking about that problem.

Several movies presented paranoia, such as Conspiracy Theory and The Caine Mutiny; yet, A Beautiful Mind remains the most famous. It narrates the story of the renowned mathematician and Nobel Laureate (1994) John Nash. Despite his genius, audio and visual hallucinations surrounded him everywhere; at the end, it led to harming those around him as well as himself. Nash underwent psychological treatment in one of the clinics, but the treatment affected his scientific production; as a result, he left and tried to control the disease himself. Although psychiatrists expected him to fail, he overcame paranoia.


*This article was published in SCIplanet printed magazine, Autumn 2017 Issue.

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