WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — A new study finds that paranoia has been on the rise, and although the percentage of those afflicted with such thoughts is not that significant as a whole, such people are heavily affected.
According to a new study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, paranoid thoughts are relatively common among otherwise healthy people. About 12 percent of the population fell into a group the researches labeled, “the persecutory class.”
Such people felt strongly that they were the targets of malicious intent, with 75 percent of this group saying that others were out to get them and 15 percent claiming that others were actively plotting to harm them.
On the other hand, 33 percent of the population fell into the “interpersonal sensitivity” group. These people were highly anxious about interpersonal interactions and worried a lot about being rejected. They also had moderate levels of general mistrust.
Another 28.6 percent of people were in the “mistrust” group. As might be expected, these people had trouble trusting others, reports Live Science. But these respondents were less interpersonally sensitive than the first group. Finally, about 29 percent fell into the “quasi-normal” group. These people were low on all paranoid thoughts, answering yes to only about 10 percent to 20 percent of the questions on paranoid feelings.
“A little bit of paranoia might be quite helpful,” study researcher Paul Bebbington, an emeritus professor of mental health at University College London, told Live Science. “When paranoid thoughts take over, it can be a mental disorder. But wariness and mistrust are not unusual, Bebbington said. In fact, they’re often protective, preventing people from, for example, blurting out their life’s secrets to total strangers.”
“Everybody’s a little bit wary in meeting somebody new,” Bebbington told LiveScience. “In that sense, it’s sort of adaptive.”