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Paranoia is an excessive anxiety or fear concerning one's own well-being which is considered irrational and excessive, perhaps to the point of being a psychosis. This typically includes persecutory beliefs concerning a likely threat, or a belief in a conspiracy theory. In the original Greek, paranoia means simply madness (para = outside; nous = mind) and it is this use which was traditionally used in psychiatry to describe any delusional state. However, the exact use of the term has changed over time in medicine, and because of this, modern psychiatric usage may vary.
In psychiatry, the term paranoia was used by Emil Kraepelin to describe a mental illness in which a delusional belief is the sole, or most prominent feature. In his original attempt at classifying different forms of mental illness, Emil Kraepelin used the term pure paranoia to describe a condition where a delusion was present, but without any apparent deterioration in intellectual abilities and without any of the other features of dementia praecox, the condition later renamed delusional disorder) the use of the term to signify the presence of delusions in general, rather than persecutory delusions specifically, lives on in the classification of paranoid schizophrenia, which denotes a form of schizophrenia where delusions are prominent.
More recently, the clinical use of the term has been used to describe delusions where the affected person believes they are being persecuted. Specifically, they have been defined as containing two central elements:
Paranoia is often associated with psychotic illnesses, particularly schizophrenia, although attenuated features may be present in other primarily non-psychotic diagnoses, such as paranoid personality disorder. Paranoia can also be a side effect of medication or recreational drugs.
In the unrestricted use of the term, common paranoid delusions can include the belief that the person is being followed, poisoned or loved at a distance (often by a media figure or important person, a delusion known as erotomania or de Clerambault syndrome).
MAK: These constitute a pathological form of projection of the ego-deal onto the object of one's fantasy.
Other common paranoid delusions include the belief that the person has an imaginary disease or parasitic infection ( delusional parasitosis); that the person is on a special quest or has been chosen by God; that the person has had thoughts inserted or removed from conscious thought; or that the person's actions are being controlled by an external force.
Belief that the person is on a special quest or has been chosen by God are the result of the little ego being swallowed up by an attractor or daimon of the intermediate zone, or some astral world. Without an esoteric understanding of thingfs, the tiny human personality, presented with something so much larger, more numenus, and more beautiful than itself (cosmic scale at the subtle physical or supra-physical levels), can only make sense of the experience using exoteric religious framework.
Control by external forces, mind control, etc, refers to the influence of powerful (collective/environmental scale) astral-material (gross astral) forces on the consciousness and astral mental body
In popular culture paranoia is often represented as including: