Paranoid Personality Disorder is characterized as follows by the World Health Organization’s ICD-10 (PDF) –
At least three of the following:
- excessive sensitivity to setbacks and rebuffs;
- tendency to bear grudges persistently, i.e. refusal to forgive insults and injuries or slights;
- suspiciousness and a pervasive tendency to distort experience by misconstruing the neutral or friendly actions of others as hostile or contemptuous;
- a combative and tenacious sense of personal rights out of keeping with the actual situation;
- recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding sexual fidelity of spouse or sexual partner;
- tendency to experience excessive self-importance, manifest in a persistent self-referential attitude;
- preoccupation with unsubstantiated “conspiratorial” explanations of events both immediate to the patient and in the world at large.
Includes: expansive paranoid, fanatic, querulant and sensitive paranoid personality (disorder)
Excludes: delusional disorder, schizophrenia
The way that I’d describe a relationship with such a person is as follows:
You are always and forever walking on egg shells. We never know when something we’d said would set this person off, because it is unpredictable how this person interprets our words and actions. This person sets her own interpretation to other people’s words and actions and then this person adds onto this entire personal histories of being abandoned, slighted, rebuffed, or rejected.
You are always the perpetrator. No matter what the circumstances, we were always the accused. We were the ones who did something to disrespect the person, or deliberately showing how we were abandoning the person. Never mind that each argument was started by this person. Usually we’d be so stunned at what had precipitated the argument that we’d be tongue-tied and mystified by what we’d said or done to offend this person, except being told (in the way of shouting at our faces) that we were victimizing the person.
You are always wrong and everything about you is fair game. I mean this literally — you start out from the position of being always wrong, and nothing you can say or use to reason with (i.e. logic) will convince the person otherwise. In fact, if you are try to show this person why you’re not wrong, you become the perpetrator who are victimizing the person and you will be told as much by the person. For example, the person will point at me and accuse me of disrespecting the person and on top of this, bring out my personal history and accuse me of disrespecting other persons in my life and then throw this all back in my face.
It is easy to confuse paranoid personality disorder with narcissistic personality disorder because of the level of self-absorption that people who are untreated with these conditions exhibit. This person can KNOW that you are going through the toughest times in your life that rivals hell-on-earth and the person will turn this around and make it all about them and you “doing it to them” (hence, the easy confusion with narcissistic personality disorder). I’ve seen this with my own eyes or I’d never believe that a person can twist things around to make it all about them when someone else is going through hell.
In our situation my solution is to ban this person from ever setting foot in my house. I have a young child and the stakes are too high to expose children to this type of untreated pathology.