I have an extremely paranoid friend,what do I do?(Long post)
Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Location: Great Britain
I have a good friend who I go to see at her house a lot. But for the past 6 months or so she has become very obsessive with her next door neighbours. I must admit, they aren't very nice people next door to her, they are very snobby and often don't speak to her. But somehow she seems to think that they are watching her and listening to her all day long (and all night along!) If she hears one little noise coming from next door, she immediately jumps up and whispers to me, ''did you hear that? It's them - they're listening to us!''
I have doubts that they are watching and listening for her. I know you get strange people about these days, but I still doubt they are. They have got 2 teenage boys who seem all right, and both the parents work (the woman works in an expensive fashion shop and the man does shift work for the council). I very much doubt that they have got all the time in the world to stand there with their ears against the wall listening to us talking, or standing at the window watching us going out. The other day both their cars weren't even there and the kids were at school, but my friend was still creeping around thinking they were listening.
It's starting to get on my nerves. Every time she answers the door to me, she puts her finger to her lips and so I've got to take off my shoes as slowly as I can, then creep into the kitchen with her. For the first couple of minutes she is whispering, but then her voice gets louder anyway so even if they were ''listening'', they would be hearing us anyway, so I don't know what the big problem is. She even thinks they have been in her garden, but I doubt it. If she knew that all of this was true (she acts like it is), then she would have got the police ages ago.
I don't know why my friend has turned out like this because I've known her for a long time, and she had a descent upbringing with really good parents, so it's not like she was living in fear as a child or anything. She's just become so obsessive over her next door neighbours, and sometimes she goes a bit hysterical like sticking her fingers up manically at the wall and calling them the C-word under her breath a lot.
The other day she saw a young man talking to the man next door, and they were just having a general conversation about some party they were going to tonight, and then the young man got into his car and drove off, and the other man just went back into his house, waving to his friend, and my friend suddenly turned to me and whispered, ''they were watching us and listening to us.'' I just agreed, but inwardly I knew they weren't in the least bit interested in us. I may be an Aspie but I can read body language well, and I knew that they were not watching us.
How do I contend with my friend? Her paranoia is beginning to make me jumpy at her house. Yesterday I laughed (not loud), and she went, ''SSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!'' which made me feel annoyed, but I don't like to say anything. I know I can be paranoid and think people are watching me, but not to the same degree as my friend. Mine's more of a social phobia thing. My friend's paranoia type is different to mine.
Yes I am a straight female.
From East UK
Joined: 22 Apr 2012
I think perhaps your friend may be mentally unwell. That level of unwarranted paranoia, especially when you say that you have known her a long time and she has not always been this way, is quite concerning.
This is the difficult situation, because 'going along' with her and supporting her delusions will not help her, but disagreeing with her will only upset her. Do you know her family? If so perhaps you could talk with them, and see if they have any concerns. Of course by doing this there is a possibility that you will lose her as a friend. The only other option that I can think of is to suggest to her that she seems stressed and miserable and suggest she speaks to a doctor. With any luck a doctor will pick up on her paranoia and investigate further.
Has your friend exhibited any other strange or unusual behaviour? Is her house less tidy, or has her appearance changed at all?
Joined: 12 Oct 2010
Yes, I think your friend is paranoid. Maybe not clinically, but in the general sense of "being much more alarmed than there's any reason for". Although, if she had a serious reason for thinking they were spying on her, they could do so even with no one home (it's called a recording device) - but they'd have to have some reason to spy on her to go to all that trouble. In everything you've said, there's no suggestion she's offered even a vaguely plausible reason for this.
What's more, some of the things you say show she's acting completely irrational. Say that they were spying on her. In that case, there would obviously be things she would reasonably not want them to know. But when you laughed - even if they were listening, what harm does it do to have them hear laughter? What information does that give them? In other words, she's not behaving rationally. If she insisted on whispers only when discussing topics she might reasonably want kept private, that wouldn't prove she was being watched, but it would at least be a rational response to the suspicion she was being watched.
If she's behaving irrationally, and there's no reason she should be watched (I'm assuming she's not a spy, or an undercover police officer, or anything else that would make it likely people would want to spy on her), then the whole thing is fairly obviously irrational. Which leaves you with a difficult choice: do you try to help her by confronting her about this and risk destroying the friendship? Or do you wait for it to come to a head some other way and go on humouring her? Only you can decide what you want to do here.
AQ Test = 44 Aspie Quiz = 169 Aspie 33 NT EQ / SQ-R = Extreme Systematising
Not all those who wander are lost.
In the country of the blind, the one eyed man - would be diagnosed with a psychological disorder
Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Location: Great Britain
No, she hasn't changed in her appearance or anything like that. She is a bit disorganised, but she's always been like that for as long as I've known her. She causes a lot of delays and procastinates everything (sometimes I wonder if she has ADHD). But her house isn't messy, she's just ordinary with that (not too houseproud, but not exactly messy).
She says she talks to her friends and her platonic boyfriend about it, but I always wonder if they think she's being a bit overparanoid and obsessive. I don't think they do, she said they seem to be getting cross with her neighbours too. But because I go round hers the most, I can sort of see that she's the one who is being very obsessively paranoid, and her neighbours may not be the nicest of people but they definately are not watching out for her. I think that the more she acts like this, the more they will pick up on it and probably will end up ridiculing her if she's not careful. If I was her I'd just ignore them and get on with me life like I don't care, and so will they, whether they're watching her or not.
I don't really know her family that well, her mother and father live a couple of towns away, and her brother is very busy and I haven't really spoken to him. She is a good friend, but I just wish she would just tone down this behaviour a bit. I suppose I can talk, I'm an Aspie with obsessions and anxieties, but I try not to drag my friends into it. Each time she tiptoes around nervously whispering all these things to me, I don't know what to say. I am good at empathising with people, but now I'm getting a little bit fed up.
Yes I am a straight female.
From East UK
Joined: 6 Jul 2011
Location: out of the loop
My first suspicion might be paranoid schizophrenia, but without other related symptoms (unusual disorganization, for instance), it is likely nothing to do with that (which is why a single symptom is insufficient for diagnosis, unlike in the popular opinion). A bit of googling resulted in this as the first (and reliable looking) result on paranoia: link So some other possibilities include: depression, sleep issues, just having gone off on the wrong train of thought in general (and finding things that seem to reinforce the original idea), and stress. She may benefit from reading this website, as stress from the paranoia may very likely be causing even more stress and paranoia.
Plus, some interesting stats (from the linked article):
- in a Frence study, "10.4% had sometimes believed there was a conspiracy against them"
- a larger UK study said "1.5% said there’d been times when they’d felt people were plotting to cause them serious harm"
- another UK study indicated "19% had thought that they might be being observed or followed. 5% thought there might be a conspiracy against them"
So that was pretty surprising, that the numbers were so very high.
Beware of geeks bearing gifts.
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