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Paranoia is a thought process characterized by excessive fear or anxiety, characteristically to the point where it would be considered irrational or delusional. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs concerning an obsession with a perceived threat.
 Origin of the word "paranoia"
The word paranoia originates from the Greek "παράνοια" meaning madness ("para" = outside "nous" = mind).
 Clinical indicators
Historically, this word was used to describe any delusional state of mind. In recent times the clinical use of the term is to describe delusions where the affected person believes they are being persecuted. Specifically, it is defined as containing two central elements:
- The affected thinks that harm is occurring, or is going to occur, to him or her.
- The affected thinks that the perceived persecutor has the intention to cause harm.
Paranoia is often a symptom of a psychotic illness (mainly schizophrenia) although attenuated features may be present in other non-psychotic diagnoses, such as paranoid personality disorder. Paranoia can also be a side effect of medication or recreational drugs.
 Informal definition
"Paranoia is the delusion that your enemies are organized." -- William S. Burroughs