I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. In using the expression “paranoid style” I am not speaking in a clinical sense, but borrowing a clinical term for other purposes. I have neither the competence nor the desire to classify any figures of the past or present as certifiable lunatics. In fact, the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.





Thanks for this post. I'm only halfway through, but the perspective is clear. This is not the first time we've felt like we're going to hell in a hand basket.

Someone is always paranoid in our system. I'm now wondering if things may seem worse since we can set on our asses at home, yet meet virtually, in an echo chamber, online with similar paranoid folks.

Is it that we can now share and amplify our paranoid beliefs, that the extreme belief system is so dominant?

posted by galen: 651 days ago