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Thread: Paranoia

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    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Paranoia

    At times I suffer through irrational bursts of paranoia and high anxiety. I should say, more in recent years. I worry that someone I know may be hurt and don't relax until I hear from them. I worry about fraudsters and hackers and disable my wifi, try to better protect my personal accounts, remove vacant ones while my imagination runs wild with ridiculous nightmarish scenarios of identify theft. I recognize the irrationality, but the tinge of plausibility can work me up.

    Why does this happen? What makes a person become suddenly security-focused and risk-averse?

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    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    How do you handle things when bad stuff actually does happen? If your ability to cope with that is poor, then it makes sense to be very sensitive to those sorts of things happening.

    Also, what sorts of thoughts do you feed yourself on these matters generally? irrational as the thoughts may be, you may not be reinforcing the alternative thought patterns enough that they can stand against the paranoia. So, perhaps you've watched a load of documentaries on hacking and identity theft, but you haven't spent a lot of time thinking about how many people you know who have had their identity stolen, and the likelihood that you'd be a target, or whatever other sorts of perspectives that would allow you to easily dismiss the paranoia?

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    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    I handle myself fine with real issues from what I've observed but none have been existentially serious/threatening. I'm not sure to what extent I'm reinforcing anything but I'm sure that it isn't helping. During the only time I've had an anxiety attack, I wasn't fixated on anything in particular at the time, it just happened - I had been dwelling about job prospects and my relationship occasionally, but the anxiety sort of found a life of its own. I have not experienced the same unexpected, ambiguous surge of anxiety since, just thoughts which bring on anxiety with them. Usually it's about my relationship. Which is ridiculous because we're both clearly devoted.

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    I worry that someone I know may be hurt and don't relax until I hear from them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    I handle myself fine with real issues from what I've observed but none have been existentially serious/threatening.
    this sounds like my bf. he can worry himself into a frenzy if somebody he cares about doesn't get back to him for a while, which i find incredibly irrational and it probably would be intolerable if i didn't have anxiety issues myself (about entirely different things). he says his biggest fear is losing people he loves, but he's never actually lost anybody he loves (to dying). i think not having that experience makes it actually worse, maybe cuz you can't imagine how llfe even goes on after that, and it's true that the cruelty of it all is unimaginable, unless you've been there. having been there just means life's given you this chance to learn & internalize the most profound acceptance of all. i can't say it's anything to envy. it just is.

    knowing that i haven't yet experienced the worst but that it's going to come, i can't see the fucking point of hurting myself. i just try to remind myself i have plenty of time to worry and grieve. can i just do that later? my own self-indulgent worrying isn't gonna teach me shit or create value. it isn't the right time. i tell myself this, so at least i always know it's fucked up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    Why does this happen? What makes a person become suddenly security-focused and risk-averse?
    Because you are a victim of human evolution. Worry is an atavistic, fear-based reaction that developed over 100,000 or more years of human evolution, 99.9% of which related to a marginally effective way of escaping or evading saber toothed tigers and the like. Most people worry about things they can't control, which is almost everything. Worrying about things you can't control is irrational. You can only control your intentions, opinions, aversions, attitudes, and whether you assent to certain impressions. You may be able to influence a few other things, to a limited extent, but not control them. Other than a few things, you have no control whatsoever. Chill out--you'll survive for a time and then you'll die. It's guaranteed.

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    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thevenin View Post
    Because you are a victim of human evolution. Worry is an atavistic, fear-based reaction that developed over 100,000 or more years of human evolution, 99.9% of which related to a marginally effective way of escaping or evading saber toothed tigers and the like. Most people worry about things they can't control, which is almost everything. Worrying about things you can't control is irrational. You can only control your intentions, opinions, aversions, attitudes, and whether you assent to certain impressions. You may be able to influence a few other things, to a limited extent, but not control them. Other than a few things, you have no control whatsoever. Chill out--you'll survive for a time and then you'll die. It's guaranteed.
    Anxiety is both instinctual and pathological. Pure instinctual anxiety/fear is not debilitating...it heightens our awareness in a functional way, while anxiety disorders actually cloud our awareness and cause us to fixate on threatening things. Instinctual fear brings threats to our attention and facilitates our efforts to avoid those perils.

    When anxiety is debilitating, there's usually some reason why it has become dysfunctional, say, like when a parent manipulated you throughout childhood and laid a ton of guilt trips over stuff, and you took that to heart....then as an adult, you have this sense of not living up to expectations, and it makes you a basket case because regardless whether expectations are even there, you feel like you're incapable of meeting them.
    ...there are a ton of pathologies.

    I'm curious about the onset of these experiences for @Faust ...like...did they begin at a time when you were going through a life transition? Even one that's seemingly unrelated?

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robcore View Post
    When anxiety is debilitating, there's usually some reason why it has become dysfunctional, say, like when a parent manipulated you throughout childhood and laid a ton of guilt trips over stuff, and you took that to heart....then as an adult, you have this sense of not living up to expectations, and it makes you a basket case because regardless whether expectations are even there, you feel like you're incapable of meeting them.
    truth

    i'm also curious about the "onset" since usually there's something there. i've found, though, that if i really can't find an immediate source, that often gives my brain the OK to drop the issue, but of course it takes some (a LOT) of practice to do this. i was introduced to this "technique" of "finding the source" as a way of clearing one's mind before meditation, actually. i've also heard that it's something people learn in CBT (but i've never done/explored that).

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    schlemiel Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robcore View Post
    I'm curious about the onset of these experiences for @Faust ...like...did they begin at a time when you were going through a life transition? Even one that's seemingly unrelated?
    I don't know anymore. The first I began to think of it as an issue was when I had the anxiety attack. I was working a contract month-to-month, trying to find fulltime work, which I eventually did, out West. My relationship was going well. That doesn't seem like enough to trigger what I felt. It's as though my body decided one day to say fuck you and tolerate anxiety less. I haven't had an attack since but the surges of anxiety come and go. More prone to it on weekends. In the not-so-distant past I would frequently cope with anxiety by watching pornography.

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    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    @tele
    I've never really been an anxiety sufferer, but I have studied a number of techniques for letting things go...and generally, you can divide the techniques into two opposite yet equally effective approaches...one is focusing outward, so the issue seems smaller in the big picture, and the other is focusing deeply on the issue, as though it were an atom...so closely that the space between the neutrons and protons and electrons is so vast, that the nothingness of the issue overwhelms the somethingness.

    These are also the two approaches to meditation that I'm aware of...a focus-on meditation, and a focus-off.

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    Dr.Awkward Robcore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    I don't know anymore. The first I began to think of it as an issue was when I had the anxiety attack. I was working a contract month-to-month, trying to find fulltime work, which I eventually did, out West. My relationship was going well. That doesn't seem like enough to trigger what I felt. It's as though my body decided one day to say fuck you and tolerate anxiety less. I haven't had an attack since but the surges of anxiety come and go. More prone to it on weekends. In the not-so-distant past I would frequently cope with anxiety by watching pornography.
    So had your porn watching habits changed around that time? Could be something to do with connecting to people?..porn addiction has facets that relate to that I think.

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