High on Suspicion
By Iona Miller, CHT, September, 2008
"Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power." (Lao-Tzu)
“The conflict between the opposites can strain our psyche to the breaking point, if we take them seriously, or if they take us seriously.”
(Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections).
“To struggle against paranoia is to defend multiplicity and differences as founding conditions for the exercise of the cultivation of the Soul, the love for images. It is an ethical imperative in the name of the image’s freedom of speech and the free exercise of thought and ideas. This is the battle. This is the combat.”
(Marcus Quintues, Jungian)
Guerilla Info War
All that is paranoid is not delusional, just as all that is delusional is not paranoid. What we are really talking about is a field of relative points of view (POV). The tyranny of the One is that of the official, spin-doctored version of past and current events, and future potentials – the fabricated consensus. Society expects the church to bring soul back into everyday life, something it should rightly do for itself. But we love to be prime time victims and play the persecutor/persecuted game (kick the dog).
Collectively, the dynamic field of paranoia is the unconscious shadow condition of mass institutions. Cognitive dissonance dwells somewhere between the ideal and the actual. Paranoia has become the background of our experience – the experiential ground. Is there any greater monomania than globalization at any human cost?
Our government is paranoid, trapped in its own greedy delusions; thus it is caught in the first trick of the collective conscious: The Shadow, the cryptocracy. The light and the dark meet in the Twilight Zone of liminality, which has its own Uncertainty Principle. Truth always hides just around the corner. Nothing is real in the imaginal world, or everything real is illusory. Things are not what they seem.
The idea of an unconscious brings opponents to see the other's unconscious as a screen for their own concealed intentions. We project our machinations onto others. Statements about the other become self-reflexive.
As a paranoiac you don’t trust; you watch. Our nation has extended its obsessive surveillance to its own citizenry. We have institutionalized Watchers, watchers of watchers, and watchers of watchers of watchers. And watchdogs to keep them all in check. Inexplicably, they call it intelligence but isn’t it paid paranoia?
Confusion of Understanding
Anyone not complacent or apathetic should be interested with natural curiosity in all aspects of the world around them. Politicians and history have taught us to be mistrustful and suspicious of the official “truth,” which means lies in Newspeak. What used to be called fringe conspiracy theory is now just common knowledge of the middle class about clandestine operations by shadow government, operating for its own interests and agenda.
In Washington D.C., paranoia may be essential. Maybe the “paranoids” are just not content with political delusion. Personal investigation is the means of forming one’s own critical point of view. The ability to do so is inherent in our Constitutional rights and arguably is the antithesis of self-absorbed narcissism – the hallmark of paranoia in the clinical sense.
Paranoia is invasive – it intrudes and worms its way through the psyche like a computer virus. Alienation in extreme cases disturbs relationships and ability to function in daily life. Authority feeds on fear. Yet, paranoia could be the basis of our collective shadow, including our unlived potential for the good.
There is no final correct reading of Reality – a final, definitive, unequivocal one. Not even tyrannical unification. Reality is too wiggly, too mercurial for that. The tyranny of the one, that single-minded thought, demands struggle on behalf of the ethical imperative to find ways to love together in our differences.
The highlight of an great drama is "the reveal." When we speak poetically, we hint gently at the proposed nature of reality, neither hidden nor revealed. Freedom from desire's materialism and denial's formalism is to be found in the middle earth of the poetic, the fantastic, the numinous, where things are not “one way or the other.” Things are not meant to be taken literally. Facts have nothing to do with it.
Paranoia is a defense through mobilization, against suppressed anger and depression, the malaise of our age. Giving in to external domination and giving in to internal pressure are threatening. More than delusions of persecution, who doesn’t fear being tricked into surrendering some element of self-determination?
Can we out-trick the Trickster? Can we use our imaginations to cure the imagination? Can we elude our own delusions? Maybe the veils themselves are delusional. Does meaning hinge on our individual view? It may depend on our worldview, our reality filter: do we serve the gods (religion), or become one (New Age), or eschew that in the name of science? Is there a clear distinction between delusion and revelation?
The fervor of “conspiracy freaks” can take on quasi-religious dimensions: it is revelatory, salvific. Spreading the word takes on a missionary quality. And at the core is the eternal mythic “quest for the Holy Grail”: “What do these things mean and whom do they serve? When life is perceived in the context of tyranny, meaning and freedom are lost, and rebellion is aroused. We may feel we are personally targeted, but aren’t we all the target in the psychophysical (psyops) war that is 21st Century life?
Spirit at the Edge of the Abyss
Paranoia might be seen as a disorder of the spirit. In his masterwork, ON PARANOIA, James Hillman presents paranoia in the context of the liminal edge where "psychology cannot be fully separated from religion--religion as relation with divinity and as relation with community ... where psychology is drawn to consider theology and politics." “Conspiracy theory” is inherently revelatory, potentially salvific – but what constitutes “correct” and “incorrect” revelation? And who is the arbiter of that consensus?
Hillman defines paranoia as a true disorder of interpreting the meaning of things: the presence of "incorrigible delusions." Hillman draws upon the analogy between the soul of the state and the state of the soul in Plato's Republic to find the remedy for the paranoia of the state in the remedies proposed by individual paranoid souls for their own recovery, the return of the poetic and Jung's idea of the unconscious. He then proceeds to demonstrate how paranoia has engaged and intrigued philosophical inquiries as well as medical psychology.
Hillman defines paranoia as a disorder of meaning. Hillman lays the blame for our collective misanthropy and social irresponsibility at the feet of the anomic archetype of individualism, one that wears a Protestant face. That worship of individualism in its most narrow sense underlies many of the new religious movements whose adherents hold that they can dissolve the thin boundary between the God within and the "wholly other" God without -- if they're only self-actualizing enough, only a little more enlightened, a little more ethical, a little more good-hearted. Just tear away one more veil, peel one more layer of the onion. (Nostrand)
Hillman identifies characteristics of paranoia that include:
- an "incorrigibility" in the delusions that attests to an impersonal, noetic factor that intimates that the disorder of mind rests in a prior disorder of spirit,
- "literalization" of ideas. Succumbing to a seductive search for meaning, and
- "concretization" of words into events.
He examines and rejects the following as criteria in determining "incorrect revelation":
- societal acceptance,
Weighing the Evidence
Suspiciousness based in experience is not paranoia. Paranoia is only unfounded or exaggerated distrust. In today’s volatile world, hell-bent on globalization, paranoia may simply be prudence – care, caution and good judgment. It is foresight, sagacity, insight, and informs us what appropriate actions are in any time and place. It is a survival mechanism – sound judgment in practical affairs. Prudence also implies caution (risk-mitigation), an understanding of first-principles and open-mindedness.
This is the paradox of our time – those accused of being paranoid are the only ones who are fit to judge certain issues, having bothered to acquaint themselves with all sides of each issue (circumspection). The problem with burdensome knowledge is, what are you going to do about it? That answer determines how radical you are, from depression to militancy.
Whether or not “they” are out to get YOU is only one of those issues. The sense of betrayal is real enough, unfortunately. From many perspectives, you have already been “gotten” – from the cradle to the grave through vaccination, dumbed-down education and social conditioning, media manipulation, poor nutrition and contaminated water, spectacular distractions, drugs and electronic dope, disinformation and spiritual programming.
Any kind of declared “war” is suspect for not being what it seems and a cover for covert operations – war on drugs, war on cancer, war on terror.
Pointless Paranoia -- Presuming Delusion
Paranoid personality disorder is a non-psychotic compulsion – a generalized projection of fears and anxieties onto the external world. It includes hypersensitivity, hypervigilance and ideas of being followed, monitored, poisoned, infected, externally controlled or chosen by God for a special mission.
The term pure paranoia describes a condition where a delusion is present, but without any apparent deterioration in intellectual abilities. Clinical use of the term has been used to describe delusions where the affected person believes he is being persecuted and contains two central elements:
1. The individual thinks that harm is occurring, or is going to occur, to him or her.
2. The individual thinks that the persecutor has the intention to cause harm.
Today’s ‘paranoia’ is neither irrational nor delusional. Political paranoia is not phob ic. It’s a fact of life.