Bats amongst birds

Daniel Freeman and Philippa A. Garety take a look at the psychology of paranoia.
Suspicions amongst thoughts are like bats amongst birds – they ever fly by twilight. Certainly they are to be repressed, or, at the least, well guarded. For they cloud the mind, they lose friends, and they check with business, whereby business cannot go on currently and constantly. They dispose kings to tyranny, husbands to jealousy, wise men to irresolution and melancholy. – Francis Bacon (1612) Do you ever have suspicions about the intentions towards you of strangers, acquaintances, work colleagues, neighbours, employers, or even friends and family? Does the thought ever pass through your mind that they may deliberately try to upset, irritate, or harm you? The suspicions may almost be dismissed as unfounded or excessive at one and the same time. But such thoughts may be nearly as common as anxious or depressed thoughts, though much less discussed in our personal, social and cultural lives. In this article we suggest that paranoid thoughts are indeed part and parcel of our mental life, and we introduce a new experimental means of studying the phenomenon.

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