TheParanoiac The Paranoiac YKTTW Discussion
The Paranoid personality style or disorderTropeworthy? Needs Examples Description Needs Help
The Paranoiac is the person who is paranoid all the time, as a major aspect of their personality. They may or may not suffer from specific paranoid delusions or believe crackpot conspiracy theories (and such theorists may or may not be paranoiacs themselves; most, it should be said, do not qualify, though many of course do), but they have a natural inclination to mistrust the people around them and the situations they find themselves in. This trope is the Paranoid Personality Disorder as demonstrated in the media. In both fiction and Real Life, it is often a major importance to areas of study such as crime, cults, terrorism, dictatorships and mass murder. To qualify, the character or characters must meet at least three of the following criteria: 1. Never My Fault: Paranoiacs are hypersensitive to setbacks and rebuffs. They tend to either blame others for their mistakes and bad behaviour, or take pride in them as achievements. This is usually a defensive act- since they are constantly on guard against attacks, deceit and criticism, they typically experience being caught out as a personal assault on themselves and thus, denial and blaming others is their way of deflecting attention away from their weaknesses if they feel their defences are being breached. At extremes, they may go full-on Tautological Templar. 2. Revenge: Paranoiacs are the most likely of all the personality types to hold grudges and hold them long. Once again, this is primarily a defensive act, taking the view that if people know they will take vengeance for any wrongdoing done to them, real or imagined (often imagined), they will be less likely to mess with the paranoiac. This also compensates for their typically low self-esteem- since they constantly feel embattled, revenge is a way of asserting control over their lives, and taking out their stress on those who they feel deserve it (often, anyone and everyone). Disproportionate Retribution is to be expected as well.
- 2.5: In practice, most Real Life paranoiacs are more likely to fantasise about revenge than to actually do anything about it, since as said they are primarily defensive, often stressed, and prone to low self-esteem. Actually taking revenge exposes them and invites retaliation, so usually a paranoiac taking revenge is a sign that they either have reached their Rage Breaking Point or they have found themselves in a position of strength or confidence; many extremists are paranoiacs who have gained that confidence from interacting with like-minded people, sometimes leading to terrorism. As such, many paranoiacs take out their stresses on their friends and family since they can't or won't act against their "enemies".
Anime / Manga
- Gaara from Naruto had well-justified paranoia, stemming from having a demon stuck inside him as a baby (that threatened to possess him if he ever fell asleep), causing everyone in his village to hate and fear him and eventually leading his father (who put that demon there, to make a weapon out of him) to try and assassinate him after deciding that Gaara was too unstable (and the person chosen was the uncle he loved, who then denied ever loving Gaara). As a young teen, he's an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer who keeps his siblings in line with threats of murder, mistrusts and despises everybody and refers to his inner world as chaos that can only be fed by murdering people.
- Mewtwo from Pokémon: The First Movie exhibits several paranoiac traits. His primary motivation is an utter distrust of all humanity for enslaving Pokémon (stemming from being himself a scientific experiment Gone Horribly Right and later used as a weapon by Giovanni), to which end he seeks to Kill All Humans and save Pokémon by enslaving all of them, the idea being that since he cares more about them than their trainers do (in his mind at least), its for their own good.
- Doctor Doom is the archetypal paranoid narcissist, and his creator Jack Kirby even occasionally referred to him as a paranoid. The absolute monarch of the tiny nation of Latveria where he has fostered a cult of personality around himself, Doom frequently and often refers to himself in the third person, accepts zero responsibility for any of his mistakes and failures, and is completely convinced that the reason The Fantastic Four are fighting him is because their leader Reed (and everyone else, but especially Reed) is and always had been insanely jealous of Dooms' own "superior" brilliance.
- Darkseid, the Galactic Conqueror and Evil Overlord of the DC Universe, shows many signs of a paranoiac Sadist. Though always a total bastard, Darkseid became insanely mistrustful and paranoid after his mother Heggra, who had manipulated and controlled him his entire life, murdered the only woman he ever loved via Darkseids' own underling Desaad, with Darkseid responding by ordering Desaad to murder Heggra back, and then treating him and every other underling with even more cruelty and mistrust than before. Questioning Darkseid is an instant death-sentence, and his ultimate ambition is to control all life everywhere and eradicate The Evils of Free Will including love, happiness and hope, turning it into a bleak, miserable dystopia where everyone suffers and worships him as God.
- The Riddler from Batman, for much the same reasons as Doom- he assumes that Batman and everyone else is jealous of his "obvious" intellectual superiority, and dismisses every defeat he's had as Batman somehow cheating.
- A more blatant example is the Scarecrow, who was violently bullied in his youth and was left with a crippling inferiority complex that developed into an obsession with fear and a career in supervillainy, his "gimmick" being scaring people to death with hallucinogens and drugs. Like most Batman villains he is prone to Bad Boss behaviour and violent overreactions. He also believes that the entire world runs on fear; hard to get a bleaker worldview than that.
- Two-Face, though "officially" diagnosed as having a Split Personality, probably fits this better than anything. He has Black and White Insanity and bleak worldview down to a tee, as he literally makes nearly every decision based on a coin flip (and has a Freak Out if he ever loses said coin) because he thinks all laws and rules are based on random chance; he has an explosive temper, and once killed a lackey over spilling a drink; he murdered his mistress because "Harvey Dent is a married man" and later was livid to learn that a female detective he had been stalking was a lesbian and accused her of tricking him. Works such as The Long Halloween suggest that much of this attitude was present even before he became Two-Face, as that story showed a grim and humourless Harvey Dent willing to break the law to defeat the mob, having zero time for human relationships (including his wife) and maybe-or-not being the Serial Killer who was murdering mobsters and served as the Big Bad of the plot. A drunken and abusive father is also a consistent feature of his backstory, as is the implication that Harvey is mistrusting and pitiless as a result.
- Batman himself is also frequently accused of being a paranoiac; how much this is true is a case of Depending on the Writer, but he certainly demonstrated many paranoid traits, including a grim attitude, Control Freak tendencies, and a habit of resorting to violence to solve his problems, with some stories going so far as to imply that being the Batman is simply an excuse for Bruce to take revenge for the murder of his parents by beating the crap out of criminals every night. He also has a grim and bleak view of the society he lives in- mostly because that society is Gotham City, and his explicit reason for choosing a Bat as his gimmick is to scare the hell out of his enemies. However, most stories portray him as fundamentally an idealist, who actually does trust his allies (just brutally aware that he lives in a world where Mind Control, Demonic Possession and exposed secret identities are all very real dangers) and who is actually an extremely humble man who has decided to sacrifice his life to the cause of saving others from the evil that took his family away from him.
- Darth Vader fits this type quite well, as years of war, the death of his mother, and mountains of shame and guilt over the atrocities he kept committing turned him into a ruthless Control Freak with delusions of "bring order to the Galaxy" via crushing any and all opposition to Imperia rule. He is filled with self-loathing and takes it out on others, including his subordinates for the heinous crime of failing him. Its strongly implied that he wants revenge on the Emperor for manipulating him into being this way, but he is simply too afraid of him to do anything about it, at least until his son comes into play.
- Michael Corleone from The Godfather movies is a paranoid Control Freak by the time Part 2 roles around. As Michael sees it, the family was attacked and betrayed in the first movie because the other mobsters no longer feared them, so if he wants to keep them safe he has to act like a biggest bastard on the planet; naturally, he ends up becoming the greatest enemy of his family himself, alienating his wife and ordering the death of his own brother.
- Several characters in A Song of Ice and Fire, but the stand-out example is Cersei Lannister, who believes that her younger brother Tyrion is behind every bad thing that ever happens to her and is prophesied to murder her and murdered her "best friend" to conceal this "fact", and thought it was bold of herself. She is proud of her son Joffrey because he acts like a psychopath, and ashamed of her son Tommen because he isn't and therefore views as weak. In later books she starts seeing conspiracies everywhere and stupidly recruits the local fundamentalists to her cause in order to better control the kingdom and enforce her will, only to predictably be turned on by them as they recognise her for the lunatic she is. The only person she trusts is her twin brother Jaime and she ends up repelling even him with her arrogant, callous and paranoid behaviour.
- Sauron and Morgoth from the Lord of the Rings verse both fit this disorder, particularly as they get progressively weaker over the Ages and increasingly spiteful, envious, controlling, petty and grandiose as a direct result of that. Sauron in particular, as by the end he simply wants to control absolutely everything and is completely enraged by any challenge to his authority.
- Voldemort from Harry Potter is a pure paranoid sociopath. He is incapable of love (and pretty much every other positive emotion) because he never experienced it himself and is unable to understand it, leading to an extreme Might Makes Right way of thinking as he thinks power is the only thing that matters in the world. He hates Muggles as inferiors despite secretly being half-blood himself, is utterly terrified of death to the point that he can't imagine anything worse than it, believes himself to be the greatest wizarding genius who ever lived despite being repeatedly bested by a teenage boy (on whom he swore eternal murderous revenge), and has an explosive Hair-Trigger Temper that he often takes out on his own followers. Oh, and he's built a personality cult around himself based on his aforementioned supposed genius along with vague ideas of class and racial superiority.
- The Daleks from Doctor Who are an entire species of paranoid xenocidal maniacs. Genetically programmed to feel hatred for all forms of non-Dalek life, they live in pressured pepperpot tanks both for mobility and because they are utterly terrified of being somehow infected by interacting with other lifeforms. They have a highly rigid command structure and are perfectly willing to die for the cause of racial purity, with their ultimate aim being the eradication of all life everywhere so that they will be protected from contamination from their supposed biological inferiors.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In a first-season episode, Quark makes a note of Odo's suspicious nature by saying the paranoia must be a trait inherent to Odo's species. Much later in the series, it is revealed that Odo's species are indeed paranoid, and regard all non-changelings with distrust. The entire species takes this paranoia to such extremes as subjugation of entire civilizations, and hiding their own homeworld from any outsiders.
- Many, many people in 24, both terrorists or otherwise.
- Live Another Day has two stand-out examples, both Big Bads. The first is terrorist mastermind Margot Al-Harazi, a maniac out to avenge the death of her terrorist husband. She is such a Control Freak that she even has cameras in her daughters' bedroom is willing to mutilate her to punish her son-in-law, and is willing to murder her when she is captured in case she talks; she then has the gaul to be mortified when she actually does talk. The second is Cheng Zhi, Jack's Chinese nemesis, now Ax-Crazy after being tortured by his government and presumably executed. He is now a Dirty Coward out to incite global nuclear war and is utterly terrified of Baeur; all traces of Affably Evil are gone to be replaced by a snivelling, vindictive bastard out for revenge on all the world for crimes he absolutely deserved to be punished for.