What is Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Do you know someone who is always suspicious and distrustful of others? They might have a Paranoid Personality Disorder. Yes, that’s a real thing. Let me explain.

Paranoid Personality Disorder is a mental health diagnosis. Individuals with this disorder tend to constantly believe that others are out to get them. They do not trust anyone, and they misinterpret the motives of people who are genuinely trying to be kind to them. This generally begins in adolescence or early adulthood.

Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder:

Individuals with this disorder will have at least four of the following traits:

  • They suspect that others are trying to harm them, use them, or deceive them, often without any evidence or legitimate reason. They never give anyone the benefit of the doubt. They don’t believe that there is ever an “honest mistake.”
  • They spend a lot of time obsessing about whether others are loyal to them or not, even though their doubts are unjustified. They scrutinize everything that others say or do, trying to catch them in a lie.
  • They are hesitant to open up because they fear that if they confide in someone, that person will maliciously use that information against them somehow.
  • They twist up innocent remarks, circumstances, and events and incorrectly read hidden meaning into them. They perceive things as an insult or threat when that was not the intention of the other person at all. In other words, they make mountains out of molehills, and they constantly think someone is picking a fight with them or doing something underhanded. They take things the wrong way.
  • They are often quick to anger and may blow up easily when they perceive that someone has insulted them, cheated them, or harmed them in some way. They may talk a lot about revenge or getting even with someone. And sometimes, they may act on it.
  • They hold grudges for a very long time and are very unforgiving. If you ever slip up, they may hold this against you forever, regardless of how many times you apologize or prove yourself. They may say something like, “I love you, but I just can’t trust you.”
  • With their spouses or partners, they will frequently suspicion that you have been unfaithful to them, even though you have given them absolutely no reason to believe this. They may demand to know your whereabouts at all times and who you were with. They may ask you to account for every moment of your time, and they may go through your phone and other personal items frequently to check for any clue that you might be cheating or lying to them. They may be pathologically jealous and become unhinged if someone else talks to you, looks at you, or shows interest in you, regardless of how you responded.

Interacting with an Individual with PPD

Individuals with Paranoid Personality Disorder are very controlling in general, and because they are difficult to get along with, they struggle with close relationships. They will often have a string of ex’s and broken friendships. They might also have a long list of previous employers because they may struggle to get along with supervisors and co-workers, or they may have the notion that the company they work for is corrupt and out to get them.

Their interactions with others are often negative and turbulent, and they make frequent accusations without having any real evidence to back them up. For this reason, many people get fed up and break off their relationships with them. Ironically, when this happens, they will often process this as proof that confirms that those people couldn’t be trusted.

In general, the tone of an individual with PPD will be sarcastic, stubborn, and hostile. They adamantly believe that they are right (about pretty much everything), and they refuse to entertain evidence to the contrary. They blame their shortcomings on others — in fact, everything always seems to be someone else’s fault.

In extreme cases, their hostility and suspicious nature may lead to involvement in cults that share their paranoid belief systems. They may be viewed as fanatics, and seem to always be looking for a fight with people groups that they negatively stereotype and hate with a passion. In less extreme cases, their hostile mindset may lead to a pattern of rocky relationships, repetitive scrapes with the law, arguments with neighbors or co-workers, or a tendency to always want to sue someone.

Because of the nature of this thought disorder, it may be next to impossible to convince someone that they have a Paranoid Personality Disorder. However, mental health help is available if they are willing to participate. If you are in a relationship with someone who has PPD, you might need help and support as well.

For other basic information pertaining to all personality disorders and how they are diagnosed, please read the introductory article to this series:

For additional information about Paranoid Personality Disorder, which is diagnosed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, please visit:

Published by Julie Bailey, LCPC

I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois. I hold a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I'm an author and a clinical manager and my life goal is to help you live your best life possible. I get excited about the daffodils in the spring and the colorful leaves in the fall (I mean like ridiculously excited). I enjoy genealogy, old cemeteries, loud music, and trivia, and I refuse to ever outgrow Harry Potter. I am an empath, which means that I literally feel the pain of others, and from time to time, this requires a visit to a quiet beach so that the wind and waves can soothe my soul.

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