These forms of paranoia have been with humanity in every age. Every form of panic apocalypticism is individual and group paranoia. This panic apocalyptism may be ‘Christian’ with hysterical predictions of Christ’s return and the disintegration of the world system. It may be the paranoia of conspiracy theories of all sorts. “It’s the international banking families or the Jews or the homosexualists or the Freemasons or the Communists or the aliens or the US government or the CIA or the liberal mainstream media.” And lest the left wing feel innocent, they too have their paranoid belief systems. “It’s a ‘vast right wing conspiracy’, it’s global warming or nuclear disaster or overpopulation or world ecosystems collapsing and its global famine and the oil hungry cabal of American capitalists…” All these are forms of paranoia–fear of ‘The Power’ whatever it is–which is going to cause the end of the world and the collapse of all things. Of course this paranoia may be mild in form, but very often it takes the form of true paranoia–in which every news item, every fact of history, every event on the world stage is interpreted as part of the paranoic world view, and when the fact doesn’t fit the theory it is either rejected as a lie or it fits into the vast ‘cover up’ of the facts which goes along with all paranoia.
What interests me is that paranoia is the one form of mental illness that cannot really be treated. You can see why: the paranoid person suspects the doctor, won’t take his medicine and doesn’t believe he is insane. Tell the paranoid person that he’s lost his grip on reality and you become ‘one of the enemy.’
The only remedy is the opposite belief system: child like trust in the Divine Providence. If you are human you have to have some sort of belief system, so you might as well go with the one which not only offers peace of mind, joy and hope, but which also happens to be true.
It’s the way we’re made, and St Augustine’s words were never more deeply true that “O Lord, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”