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Diamant, L. (1990). A Note on the Possibility of a Paranoia of Everyday Life. Psychoanal. Rev., 77(2):201-218.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Review, 77(2):201-218

A Note on the Possibility of a Paranoia of Everyday Life

Louis Diamant, Ph.D.


For some time I have thought that there may be several categories of psychopathology for which there are some mini-episodes; episodes that provide tachistoscopic views of our narcissism, of our regressions and fixations— early structures of development that are ordinarily well insulated by sturdy ego functions. One such pathology I have noted in clinical and social observations is something that, for convenience, and to lend a touch of class, I have labeled paranoia quotidienne, the paranoia of everyday life. Recently, in pursuing this theme, I discussed it with a number of friends and associates and it seems that they too had noticed phenomena that might fall into this category. I have focused on this particular phenomenon because of the current high degree of recognizability reported on the subjective feeling of “being paranoid” and the common use of the term to describe the behavior of others.

In the years prior to the campus drug and sex revolution, the term “paranoid” was more or less limited to those who toiled in the psychiatric world, and then it seemed more through objective observation, than subjective experience. Depression has historically been a recognized and communicated experience among nonclinical populations. But paranoid experiences were ordinarily unknown to the well, and undifferentiated from reality by the ill. The term “paranoid” was used not only to refer to a mental state but frequently as a term of contumely. Being an observer of the pre- and post-60s era, I would say that the attitude about feeling paranoid has changed dramatically.

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