A paranoid personality, often expressed by individuals with a paranoid personality disorder, is characterized by excessive and irrational mistrust and suspicion of other people or entities. Such individuals tend to feel that others are constantly plotting against them or that, at the very least, they have motives that are not beneficial to the afflicted individual. Accordingly, paranoid people tend to find it very difficult to form close personal relationships because they are always suspicious and mistrustful of those around them. They also tend to find it very difficult to seek help, as they are generally hesitant to admit that their paranoid suspicions are merely delusions.
The mistrust and suspicion of an individual with a paranoid personality may manifest itself in any of a number of diverse forms. In addition to general suspicion of the motives of others, paranoid individuals are highly reluctant to confide in other people because they believe that any personal information they confide in others could be used against them. If a paranoid person is in a romantic relationship, he will often suspect his partner of infidelity or will doubt his partner's affection and commitment. Also symptomatic of this type of personality is reading far too deeply into innocent and meaningless gestures and phrases.
The factors that contribute to the development of a paranoid personality are not well understood, but they are believed to be both psychological and biological in nature. People who have suffered from some form of childhood trauma are more likely to suffer from paranoia than those who did not. There are also suspicions of some form of genetic link, as family members often have similar disorders.
Many different treatment options are available for paranoid individuals who are willing and able to admit they have a problem. While psychotherapy without medication is an option, it is often complicated by the fact that trust is an essential part of therapy. If one with a paranoid personality cannot develop some form of rapport with his therapist, he will likely be unable to benefit significantly from therapy. As such, psychotherapy is often combined with a variety of antipsychotic, antidepressant, and antianxiety medications.
A paranoid personality can, in some cases, be a symptom of or indicative of some other disorder. Brief psychotic episodes, for instance, often involve intense paranoia. A variety of other disorders, including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder, also often involve paranoia. Paranoia, to an extent, also result from the abuse of alcohol or other drugs.