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Relationship between a paranoiac parent and his children

Dernière mise à jour : 13 oct. 2020

29 décembre 2016

Traduction en anglais de l’article “Sur les relations entre un parent paranoïaque et ses enfants”


Specialized in the psychopathology of power, I have been studying paranoia psychosis for over twenty years, not only through the phenomenological and psychoanalytic studies that I have done in a psychiatric hospital (doctorate), but also later, through all my clinical and psychopathological experience, both as a psychologist of children and adults, as an investigator/auditor in large companies, on the issue of harassment, which is the “way of being in the world” of paranoid or, as I often say, his “masterpiece.”

As a teenager, I was already interested in the deviances of power, and before becoming more specialized in psychopathology, I studied moral and political philosophy in which I earned a master’s degree in the Sorbonne on the question of the disease of civilization from Nietzsche.

This double psychological and philosophical glance gives me access to the passage from peculiar pathology to collective pathology, which is symptomatic of the delirious contagion in paranoia, and explains by itself the tilts in totalitarianism, hence the interest to identify and understand it radically, that is, at the root.

I have been awarded a diploma of Normal Superior (Ulm), clinical psychologist, doctor in psychopathology, I have been an instructor since 2004 in various universities in France, I am an expert on the psychopathology of harassment and paranoia (processes, functioning, trauma, taken in charge, etc.), on which I give lectures in various places, I write, I teach and train the professionals of psychiatry, psychopathology and law in France, in Canada, and today in South America.

Summary of paranoiac psychosis

Paranoiac psychosis is by far the most dangerous of all psychosis for society, considering both its widespread nature and the risks of acting out.

Paranoiac delusion is orchestrated into a series of pseudo-argued interpretations, which creates a logical illusion. It is in this that the psychiatrists Sérieux and Capgras [1] called this form of madness a “reasoning madness”, indicating that “the delusion of interpretation is a system of errors”. When systematized, delusion presents an essential theme to which several delusional elaborations are added, in an apparently coherent and orderly development.

In reality, it is a false reasoning based on sophisms (sophism: an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid; especially : such an argument used to deceive). The delusion then changes very little in its themes and its certainties.

Perception is guided by excessive mistrust, but reasoning and argumentation, and thus calculation and strategy, are preserved.

Paranoiac psychosis works by projection, intuition, delusional interpretation and ideas of persecution. It may, but it is not obligatory, to be accompanied by pathological jealousy, mythomania, megalomania, melancholy, ideas of ruin, etc.

There are several profiles in paranoiac psychosis, but the advocacy profile is particularly important. He distinguishes himself by his procedural nature, by his own presentation as a “savior” who makes him claim ever more rights (especially in court), in defiance of the rights of others and his own duties.

Finally, in this summary, it is necessary to distinguish between perversion, paranoia and psychopathy.

Perversion is not a psychosis, for there is no delirium, but it is the antechamber. Paranoia maximizes perversion, with persecution, rigidity, megalomania, histrionism (theatricality), idolatry of the Law… It is much more dangerous than perversion, but it is not uncommon to see perverts then decompensate (degrade) in paranoia, through events destabilizing psychically.

Psychopathy is not a psychosis either because there are no delusion or affectivity (contrary to the paranoiac who always presents himself as a victim and seems to suffer, only violent and transgressive acts of action).

Impacts of paranoiac psychosis on the surroundings

In favor of certain elements of life (happy or unhappy), the personality presenting a paranoiac structure can decompensate (degrade) in a very violent way, in a projective mode.

Clearly, the paranoiac inverts everything: while he persecutes, he claims to be a victim, while he harasses, he says he is being harassed, while manipulating, he is being manipulated.

He accuses the other of being responsible for all his evils.

It is always the fault of the other; the other is the persecutor, and for the paranoiac to recover a semblance of psychic serenity, he/she must harass the other lived as persecutor (including by judicial means) until he/she annihilates or kills her/him.

The characteristic of the paranoiac decompensation is indeed in the passage to the act: blackmail to suicide, attempts of suicide, or violence on others, including by indirect ways, harassment, transgressions, murder.

There is, therefore, a good risk of blows/wounds, rape and/or death in the presence of a paranoiac decompensation.

In addition, this pathology works much in a manipulative and strategic mode, and changing few affective objects and delusional themes (contrary to schizophrenia), the person targeted by the paranoiac delirium is really in danger, as well as everything in which she is involved (her business, her children, her animals, etc). A paranoiac who deceives can set the house on fire, kill women and children, kidnap children, commit all kinds of acts that seriously affect the integrity of others, and sometimes his own.

The paranoiac parent, justice and his children

A paranoiac parent represents a real danger for his children, a danger which is increased in cases of separation, on the one hand because the spouse can no longer make “buffer” (third party), on the other hand because the separation in itself is a factor of decompensation, the paranoiac being unable to tolerate the spouse “taking off” from him/her.

In cases of separation, the children are held hostages, in a manipulative manner, and because of the projection, the paranoiac parent will accuse the other parent of “manipulation”, “parental alienation”, “danger” for the child. Justice will be held hostages, and will often make the mistake of believing in a “parental conflict” when it is actually a harassment of the paranoiac parent towards the other parent, through the judicial channels.

I have often developed this point (articles, lectures, conferences), namely the differentiation between harassment and conflict, and the fact that the “masterpiece” of paranoia is harassment (see the bibliography in the appendix). This differentiation is fundamental because it excludes from the outset any approach of “conflict resolution” such as mediation and unfortunate ignorance of the greatest number, including professionals. For the paranoiac, “the Law is him/her”, according to how he/she interprets it, in his/her omnipotence. A great strategist with a strong resentment, he/she will present himself/herself as a victim and will not stop complaining or claiming more rights from the person he/she feels persecuted by, but that in reality he/she is the one who is doing the persecute.

The relation of the paranoiac parent to his/her child is extremely destructive. It must be compared to a stay of adults in a sect, adding also that the child does not have the psychic means to defend from the delirium, which is increased in the private sphere, while the paranoiac can make illusion in the public sphere. Th