|Antisocial Personality Disorder||Histrionic Personality Disorder|
|Anxiety Disorders||Narcissistic Personality Disorder|
|Bipolar Disorder||Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder|
|Borderline Personality Disorder||Paranoid Personality Disorder|
|Dependent Personality Disorder||Schizophrenia|
|Depression||Schizotypal Personality Disorder|
This section describes in nontechnical terms 14 of the more common psychological conditions encountered by personnel security investigators and adjudicators. These descriptions are based principally on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Refer to DSM-IV for specific diagnostic criteria and for information on conditions or disorders not described here. Discussion of three of these disorders that are most directly related to the risk of espionage or other white-collar crime is repeated in the section on Behavior Patterns and Personality Characteristics Associated with Espionage. These disorders are antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder.
When investigating or adjudicating emotional, mental, and personality issues, the key point is not what disorder a subject has, if any. It is whether subject has behaved in a manner that suggests unreliability, untrustworthiness, poor judgment, or any other reason for believing subject may be a poor security risk. Psychologists and psychiatrists frequently disagree on whether an individual’s behavior qualifies as a disorder. Many undesirable behaviors are disqualifying for a security clearance before they reach a level of severity that qualifies for diagnosis as a "mental disorder."
Emotional, mental, and personality disorders are not as easily recognized as some physical illnesses like measles and mumps. Although the description of each disorder contains a general pattern of symptoms, there are many differences in the symptoms present from one case to another. The severity and duration of symptoms also varies. Many symptoms are characteristic of several different disorders. The boundaries that divide one disorder from other emotional or mental disorders are not always clear. Many individuals have multiple disorders.
Adjustment disorder occurs as a reaction to a stressful circumstance. It is diagnosed if the distress the individual feels is greater than expected given the nature of the stressful event, or if there is significant impairment in social relationships or work performance.
By definition, adjustment disorder must begin within three months of the stressful event and be resolved within six months afterwards, unless the stressful circumstance is ongoing. If the problem was triggered by death of a close relative or friend, it is generally considered bereavement rather than adjustment disorder.
This disorder is generally classified by subtype -- adjustment disorder with depressed mood, with anxiety, or with disturbance of conduct. Depressed mood refers to depression, tearfulness, or feelings of hopelessness. Anxiety refers to nervousness, worry, or jitteriness. Disturbance of conduct generally refers to antisocial behavior. Unless some type of antisocial behavior is involved, this is usually not a security issue unless it lasts more than six months, in which case the diagnosis may changed to something more serious.
Behavior that shows a lack of respect for the commonly accepted rules of society is antisocial behavior. Manipulation of others and deceit are central features of this type of behavior. It is epitomized by the example of John Walker, a famous Soviet spy in the U.S. Navy, who is described below. Psychologists sometimes call such a person a sociopath. (This is something very different from the introvert who is not very friendly and is sometimes described as "antisocial.")
Antisocial behavior is a serious security concern. Values that normally inhibit illegal or vindictive behavior are missing. This can lead to fraud, embezzlement, computer sabotage or espionage when an individual sees an easy opportunity for illicit gain or becomes disaffected from the organization. Selling secrets may be viewed as a simple business opportunity rather than as treason
Persons with antisocial personality disorder shamelessly take others for granted and manipulate them to serve their own self-interest or indulge their own desires. Such persons take pleasure in beating the system and not getting caught. Lying to others is common, as is lack of gratitude. Stealing, shoplifting, cheating on taxes, failure to pay parking tickets, aggressive or reckless driving, failure to pay bills even though money is available, picking fights, extreme promiscuity, sexual harassment, cruelty to animals, and spouse or child abuse are examples of antisocial behaviors. There is little remorse about the adverse effects of one’s behavior on others.
At work, typical behaviors include padding travel vouchers or expense accounts; being consistently late to work or leaving earlier than is reasonable; abusing sick leave; lack of concern with meeting deadlines; taking classified information home; misusing the diplomatic pouch; pilfering office supplies; lying to cover up a mistake or to make oneself look good; maneuvering to undermine a colleague who is viewed as a competitor for promotion; drug use or any other violation of regulations by a government employee.
Antisocial persons tend to resent authority and dislike supervision, to attribute their lack of success to others "having it in for me," to think no one understands them, and that life is giving them a raw deal. Most people tend to blame others for their problems, but antisocial individuals are likely to focus the blame on their supervisor. They may submit extensive written appeals in response to any criticism in their performance evaluation. When antisocial subjects feel offended or frustrated in their desires, they may be inclined to hold a grudge and to seek revenge.
Antisocial persons believe such improper behavior is commonplace and will not be punished. They have a high opinion of their ability to con their way out of trouble, and a low opinion of the astuteness of authorities who would catch them. The con man's self-confidence and ability to manipulate others may be very useful in certain occupations (intelligence operations officer, undercover police officer, salesperson), so it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a valuable talent from a serious character defect.
In severe cases of antisocial personality disorder, individuals are likely to have a criminal record that clearly disqualifies them for access to classified information. They are also unlikely to have the history of academic or career success that qualifies them to apply for a position of responsibility. Moderately antisocial personalities, however, may appear to be very desirable candidates for employment. They are able to manipulate people so effectively that they do exceptionally well in interviews and are evaluated favorably by casual acquaintances. The true character is revealed only after prolonged or intimate contact.
If a series of incidents shows a pattern of untrustworthy and unreliable behavior, it may not qualify as a psychological "disorder," but it may be adjudicated adversely under the Personal Conduct guideline or be considered as part of the whole person evaluation under any other adjudicative guideline.
Antisocial behavior usually begins in childhood or adolescence. The most flagrant antisocial behavior may diminish after age 30. However, inability to sustain lasting, close, and responsible relationships with family, friends, sexual partners, or employer may persist into late adult life.
As a youth, Navy spy John Walker rolled used tires down hills at cars passing below, threw rocks through school windows, stole money from purses and coats left unattended at school functions, stole coins from church donation boxes for the poor, set fires, and shot at the headlights of cars. When arrested for attempted burglary at age 17, Walker admitted six other burglaries. He was pardoned on condition that he follow through on his plan to join the Navy. A childhood friend, who says he knew Walker like a brother, described him many years later as "cunning, intelligent, clever, personable, and intrinsically evil."
After his arrest as a Soviet spy, he enjoyed the publicity; he had no remorse. He rationalized involving his brother, son and friend in espionage, and trying to recruit his daughter, as trying to help them be successful in life, and he later criticized them for using him. He felt his only real mistake was allowing himself to be surrounded by weaker people who eventually brought him down. He concluded, "I am the real victim in this entire unpleasant episode."
One author who spent about 160 hours interviewing Walker after his conviction wrote: "He is totally without principle. There was no right or wrong, no morality or immorality, in his eyes. There were only his own wants, his own needs, whatever those might be at the moment." He betrayed his country, crippled his wife emotionally, corrupted his children, and manipulated his friends. Yet all the while, he didn't see himself as different from others, only a little smarter. In his view, "Everyone is corrupt...everyone has a scam." 1
Anxiety disorders are characterized by unrealistic or irrational fear and anxiety. With such disorders, anxiety may be generalized and experienced for no specific reason or with no identifiable trigger (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD), or it may be experienced only upon exposure to particularly potent triggers.
A phobia is a strong and persistent fear of some specific object or situation. A phobia may cause anxiety, such as fear of heights or fear of flying. In more serious cases, it may precipitate a panic attack. A panic attack is a sudden and usually short period of intense fear or discomfort accompanied by symptoms such as pounding heart, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, feeling of choking, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, numbness, chills or hot flushes, fear of going crazy, or fear of death. Phobias that could entail security risk in some work environments include Agoraphobia and Social Phobia.
Agoraphobia is fear of being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult or embarrassing, or in which help may not be available, in case of a panic attack. Typically, this leads to avoidance of situations such as being alone outside the home or at home alone, being in a crowd of people, traveling in an automobile or airplane, or being on a bridge or in an elevator. Seriousness is measured by the extent to which avoidance of these situations interferes with a person's daily routine, work performance, or social life.
Social phobia is fear of social situations in which one is exposed to unfamiliar people, or fear of any situation in which one’s performance will be observed by others, such as public speaking. The subject fears their anxiety will be apparent to others and cause embarrassment or humiliation.
Some anxiety is common. It qualifies as a phobia only if avoidance of the feared situation interferes with social relationships or work performance or causes marked distress.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a special form of anxiety disorder most commonly associated with military combatants and those who have experienced terrifying, traumatic, and life-altering events such as war, natural disaster, devastating car crashes, or terrorist attacks.
Victims of PTSD repeatedly reexperience these traumatic events in the form of vivid memories, nightmares, and flashbacks. These memories may be triggered by situations reminiscent of the traumatic event, anniversaries of the event, or sights and sounds that provoke flashbacks to the event.
PTSD alone does not indicate a security risk. However, alcohol and drug abuse and other emotional or mental problems that are linked to increased security concern are very likely to co-occur with PTSD. Additionally, PTSD sufferers are more likely to experience increased irritability and increased anger, which may affect personal and work relationships and should be evaluated carefully. 2
Bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of extreme excitability (mania) and usually, but not invariably, also some degree of depression. It is the current terminology for what used to be called manic-depressive. If only episodes of mania are present, or mainly mania with some depression, it is called bipolar I disorder. If it is mainly depression, with some mania, it is called bipolar II disorder. If only episodes of depression are present, it is called depressive disorder.
Episodes of mania are identified by:
An abnormally elevated, expansive, or irritable mood that leads to hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and poor judgment. Mood may alternate between euphoric and irritable if subject's wishes are thwarted.
Inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, increased talkativeness, thoughts that race faster than they can be expressed, easily distracted.
Abnormal (for the individual) involvement in pleasurable activities with high potential for painful consequences, e.g., unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, foolish business investments.
Episodes of depression are identified by:
Feelings of sadness and emptiness, or loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities.
Weight loss or weight gain, insomnia, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt, diminished ability to concentrate, indecisiveness, or recurrent thoughts of death.
Significant distress or significant adverse effects on work, social, or family activities.
Bipolar disorder is a recurring disorder. More than 90% of people who have one manic episode go on to have future episodes, although there may be several years between episodes and individuals may be fully functional between episodes. Because it recurs, and because it causes talkativeness and poor judgment, bipolar disorder is a significant security concern.
The principal characteristics of borderline personality disorder are:
Unwarranted fear of rejection or being abandoned, usually associated with low self-esteem. Such persons are uncomfortable alone. Examples of such behavior include inappropriate anger when someone important to them must cancel an appointment, or panic at a temporary separation.
A pattern of unstable relationships with friends, lovers, or bosses. Such persons need a great deal of nurturing and support from any relationship. They may initially idolize someone who provides that nurturing, but then shift suddenly and dramatically to view that same person as hostile or cruel if they do not care enough or are not "there" enough for them.
Suicide, threats of suicide, or self-mutilation precipitated by fears of separation or rejection, such as fear of abandonment by a lover.
Unstable self-image leading to sudden changes in career goals, values, or types of friends.
Potentially damaging impulsive behavior in several areas such as substance abuse, unsafe sex, gambling, spending money irresponsibly, reckless driving, or binge eating.
Inappropriate expressions of anger, or difficulty controlling anger; chronic feelings of emptiness or boredom; or short but intense periods of irritability or anxiety.
Lacking self-confidence, such persons may undermine themselves just at the moment a goal is about to be achieved, e.g., dropping out of school just before graduation, destroying a good relationship just when it is clear that the relationship could last. Self-destructive acts may also be precipitated by fear of having to assume increased responsibility.
Borderline personality disorder is a significant security concern, because loyalty may shift so suddenly and dramatically to whoever purports to offer the necessary nurturing and support. Irrational feelings of abandonment by a supervisor or employing organization may precipitate self-destructive behavior or vindictive rage at one's employer.
Borderline personality disorder is present in about 2% of the general population. It may occur together with other disorders. It is diagnosed about three times as often in females as in males. Physical and sexual abuse, neglect, family conflict, and early loss or separation from parents are common in the family histories of persons with this disorder.
Persons with dependent personality disorder have a pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive behavior, fears of separation, and great difficulty making everyday decisions. Such individuals tend to be passive and to need an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others. They want to be told what to do. They may agree to things they know are wrong rather than risk losing the support of those on whom they depend. Dependent personality disorder often occurs together with other disorders, such as borderline, avoidant, and histrionic personality disorders.
The essential feature of depression is either a feeling of being depressed, sad, hopeless or discouraged, or the loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities previously considered enjoyable. Brief periods of depression are normal, especially if life is difficult, one is ill, or after a traumatic experience such as divorce, death of a close friend or relative, or personal failure of some kind.
To qualify as a major depressive disorder, depression must persist for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two consecutive weeks and must include one or more of the following characteristics:
Decreased energy, tiredness, apathy, or fatigue.
Sense of worthlessness or guilt, such as guilty preoccupation over minor past failings; or a sense of helplessness.
Changes in sleeping patterns -- insomnia or somnolence.
Marked changes in appetite.
Agitation, e.g., inability to sit still, pacing, hand-wringing, pulling or rubbing of skin or clothing.
Talk about death or suicide.
Difficulty in thinking, concentrating, or making decisions.
Depression can generally be controlled by medication or professional counseling. The security significance depends upon whether the depression affects judgment or work performance. It is quite possible for some persons to feel considerable personal distress from depression without this affecting their judgment or work performance. As in a number of other areas, how the individual actually behaves may be more relevant for security evaluation than the medical diagnosis.
The individual with anorexia nervosa refuses to maintain a minimally normal body weight. Weight loss is usually achieved primarily by restricting food intake, although there may be some self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives or diuretics. The self-esteem of individuals with anorexia nervosa is highly dependent upon their body shape and weight. As a result, there is an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat. Paradoxically, concern about gaining weight often increases as actual weight declines. Self-starvation has significant physical and sometimes psychological consequences. Hospitalization is common and death is not infrequent.
The essential features of bulimia nervosa are binge eating a couple times a week following by self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives to avoid gaining weight. Individuals with bulimia nervosa are similar to those with anorexia nervosa in their fear of gaining weight and high level of dissatisfaction with their own bodies, but generally do maintain a normal weight.
Anorexia and bulimia both indicate fundamental problems of low self-esteem and poor adjustment. Bulimia is a greater security concern than anorexia as bulimics are typically ashamed of their eating problems and attempt to conceal them. Binge eating usually occurs in secrecy. Bulimia is frequently accompanied by other mood, anxiety, and personality disorders. About one-third of those with bulimia also have a substance abuse problem. From one-third to one-half also have one or more personality disorders, most frequently borderline personality disorder.
The word histrionic refers to behavior that is theatrical, deliberately affected, or deliberately displaying emotion for the effect that it has. The histrionic personality is identified by excessive emotionality and attention-seeking behavior that begins in early childhood and is present in a variety of contexts. Histrionic individuals appear very charming, enthusiastic, and open or flirtatious, but this wears thin as they constantly demand to be the center of attention. They feel so uncomfortable or unappreciated when not the center of attention that they may make up stories or create a scene to focus attention on themselves.
Physical appearance is often used to draw attention. For a woman, there may be seductive dress or behavior; for a man, macho dress or behavior. Romantic fantasy is common, but such persons often have difficulty achieving emotional intimacy in romantic relationships. Relationships fluctuate between emotional manipulation of the partner and strong dependence on the partner.
Dramatic expression of emotions may be turned on and off so quickly that others may suspect the individual is faking these feelings. Histrionic personalities may express strong feelings with dramatic flair, but without any supporting facts or details. They are impulsive, bored with routine work, and crave the excitement of new experiences.
Histrionic Personality Disorder often occurs together with other disorders such as Borderline Personality, Antisocial Personality, Narcissistic Personality, and Dependent Personality Disorder.
Histrionic personality is a security concern because such persons are easily influenced by others and by current fads. They make quick and impulsive judgments and crave excitement. They may be overly trusting, especially of strong authority figures whom they see as magically solving their problems.
A narcissistic personality is characterized by unwarranted feelings of self-importance or self-esteem (grandiosity), a sense of entitlement, and a lack of empathy for others. These characteristics are discussed separately below and then related to security issues.
Wholly unwarranted feelings of self-importance or self-esteem are referred to by psychologists as grandiosity. Grandiose persons grossly overestimate their abilities and inflate their accomplishments. They are often preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty or love. They may need constant reinforcement of this fantasy image of themselves. Grandiose persons expect to be viewed as "special" even without appropriate accomplishments.
Need for praise and sensitivity to criticism dominate relationships with others. Personal friendships, relationships with supervisors and coworkers, and amorous relationships turn quickly from love to hate, and vice versa, depending upon whether the relationship supports or undermines subject's self-esteem. The narcissist demands unconditional acceptance of his or her specialness, and relationships blossom only when this is given and sour quickly when it is not.
Self-esteem is almost always fragile. An unreasonably high, overt self-evaluation masks inner doubts and insecurities. It is paradoxical that someone with such a crippling sense of inadequacy should act in such an arrogant, imperious, and grandiloquent manner.
Grandiose persons feel they are so smart or so important that the rules, which were made for ordinary people, do not apply to them. Rules and social values are not necessarily rejected as they are by the antisocial personality; it is just that one feels above the rules.
A sense of entitlement is characterized by unreasonable expectation of especially favorable treatment. Such persons expect to be given whatever they want or feel they need.
They may feel entitled to a promotion or to a higher grade in school just because they worked hard for it, regardless of the quality of their performance; entitled to more money because housing or college costs are so high, even though they didn't earn it; entitled to cut in front of the line because they are so busy or their time is so valuable. They may also feel entitled to punish others, to "give them what they deserve," because others failed to recognize their special abilities or frustrated their desires in some other way.
Instead of congratulating a colleague who receives a promotion, the narcissist may feel bitter and grouse that the promotion wasn't deserved. Several persons arrested for embezzlement have revealed that they started to take money only after someone on a par with them got a promotion that they didn't receive. They felt entitled to take the money because they should have been promoted.
Many people genuinely do get a raw deal, and may be justified in feeling they deserve better. Feelings of entitlement in such cases become a security problem only if the person is planning revenge or retaliation.
Narcissists generally view the world only from the perspective of how it affects themselves. There is little empathy or ability to understand the feelings or problems of others. For example, when a coworker becomes seriously ill, one may be upset by the inconvenience caused by the worker's absence and relatively unconcerned about the welfare of the worker.
Narcissistic persons shamelessly take others for granted and manipulate or exploit them to achieve their own ends. They may be unusually aggressive and ambitious in seeking relationships with others in positions of power. In romantic relationships, the partner is often treated as an object to be used to bolster one's self-esteem.
In extreme cases, the narcissist who gains power over others, as in a relationship between supervisor and subordinate, may use this power in humiliating and cruel ways, sometimes just for what seems like personal amusement.
Narcissism should not be confused with the simple egotism found in many capable and loyal employees who progress to senior positions due to their strong abilities, self-confidence, and ambition. An unwarranted sense of self-importance is a concern only when self-evaluation is so far out of line with reality, and with how one is perceived by supervisors and colleagues, that disappointment and resentment are inevitable.
The narcissist's need for recognition is so strong that failure provokes a need for vindication and revenge. The compelling need to justify unwarranted self-esteem may cause a grandiose person with a grudge to seek recognition elsewhere -- with an opposition intelligence service or business competitor.
Feelings of entitlement are a security concern because they may be used to rationalize illegal behavior or may reduce the inhibitions that otherwise deter illegal behavior. When combined with antisocial attitudes, grandiosity, or desperate need or greed for money, a feeling of entitlement leads to easy rationalization of theft, fraud, or other illegal activity for monetary gain. "I'm only taking what I deserve." It is also an easy rationalization for revenge. "If they hadn't screwed me, I wouldn't be doing this, so it's their fault; they deserve it."
When narcissists fail to perform adequately at work, it is always someone else's fault. The many arrested spies who exhibited this characteristic blamed others for their treason. They blamed their behavior on the counterculture movement of the 1960s, on an insensitive and intrusive Intelligence Community, poor security practices, supervisors who failed to recognize their potential, spouses for not being understanding, or government for not taking the right political stance. Few saw themselves as traitors; they saw themselves as victims.
Self-deception and rationalization facilitate criminal behavior, as they enable an individual to consider such behavior in a more justifiable light. They also soothe an offender's conscience as the activity progresses. Narcissism is illustrated by the following example.
Jonathan Jay Pollard was a Naval Intelligence analyst arrested for espionage on behalf of Israel. From an early age, Pollard had a fantasy of himself as a master strategist and a superhero defending Israel from its enemies. He became obsessed with the threats facing Israel and a desire to serve that country.
In college, Pollard boasted that he had dual citizenship and was a Colonel in the Israeli Army. His Stanford senior yearbook photo listed him as "Colonel" Pollard, and he reportedly convinced almost everyone that Israeli Intelligence was paying his tuition. After his arrest, Pollard said this was all "fun and games," and "no one took it seriously." But most of his fellow students did not see it as a game.
Pollard kept his pro-Israeli views to himself while working for Naval Intelligence, but other tall tales about himself were more or less a joke in the office. He was unpopular among his colleagues, as they resented his bragging, his arrogance, and his know-it-all attitude.
At one point, Pollard received permission to establish a back-channel contact with South African Intelligence through a South African friend he had known in graduate school. Through a combination of circumstances, Pollard's story about his relationship with the South Africans began to unravel. After telling Navy investigators fantastic tales about having lived in South Africa and his father having been CIA Station Chief there, Pollard's security clearance was pulled and he was told to obtain psychiatric help. When the doctor concluded he was not mentally ill, Pollard filed a formal grievance and got his clearance and job back.
Pollard's need to feel important, and to have others validate that importance, led him to pass several classified political and economic analyses to three different friends whom he felt could use the information in their business. This was before he volunteered his services to Israel. Although he hoped to eventually get something in return, his principal motive was simply to impress his friends with his knowledge and the importance of his work.
Several years later, under a different supervisor, it was again Pollard's grandiosity that attracted adverse attention, contributing to his eventual compromise and arrest. The supervisor caught Pollard lying about his dealings with another government agency. The only purpose of the lie was apparently to make Pollard appear to be a more important person than he was.
The supervisor wondered why Pollard would make up stories like this and began paying much closer attention to Pollard's activities. He noticed that Pollard was requesting so many Top Secret documents concerning Soviet equipment being supplied to the Arab world that it was becoming a burden on the clerk who had to log them in. The risk Pollard ran by requesting so many documents may also be explained by his grandiosity; such persons often think they are too smart to be caught. 3
This disorder is characterized by recurrent obsessions or compulsions. Obsessions are persistent ideas, impulses, or images that intrude on one's consciousness and that cause anxiety or distress. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors usually performed to relieve the anxiety or distress caused by obsessions.
For example, an obsession about cleanliness might be relieved by compulsive hand washing. An obsession about having things in order might be relieved by reordering things every morning to ensure they are in exactly the right place. An obsession with an obscene sexual image may be driven from the mind by counting to 10 forward and backward 100 times.
Many obsessions or compulsions are insignificant. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is diagnosed only when there is a problem severe enough to be time-consuming, cause distress, or adversely affect an individual's performance. Obsessive-compulsive disorder suggests the presence of unresolved underlying problems. It is often associated with other emotional disorders.
There is a distinction between this disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. The obsessive-compulsive personality attempts to maintain a sense of control through painstaking attention to rules, trivial details, procedures, lists, and schedules. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder pursue orderliness and perfection at the expense of flexibility and efficiency. Although job performance may be adversely affected by inflexibility and stubbornness, the obsessive-compulsive personality is likely to follow all security regulations to the letter. Such a person is unlikely to ever, under any circumstances, leave a safe unlocked.
The paranoid personality is distinguished by a pervasive distrust and suspicion of other people. Such persons are preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates. They are reluctant to confide in others for fear that information they share will be used against them. They may refuse to answer personal questions, saying the information is "nobody’s business." They read hidden meanings that are demeaning or threatening into innocent remarks or unrelated events. They may interpret an innocent mistake by a store clerk as a deliberate attempt to shortchange them.
A supervisor's compliment on an accomplishment may be misinterpreted as an attempt to coerce more or better performance. An offer of help may be viewed as a criticism that they are not doing well enough on their own. Minor slights arouse major hostility, and these slights are never forgiven or forgotten. Such persons often have unjustified suspicions that their spouse or sexual partner is unfaithful. They want to maintain complete control over intimate relationships to avoid being betrayed. They may gather trivial and circumstantial "evidence" to support their jealous beliefs.
Paranoid personalities may blame others for their own shortcomings. Because they are quick to counterattack in response to perceived threats, they may become involved in legal disputes. Such persons are attracted to simplistic black and white explanations of events, and are often wary of ambiguous situations. Paranoia often disrupts relationships with supervisors and co-workers.
Severe paranoia is often a precursor of other mental disorders or found together with other disorders.
Paranoia is a serious security concern, as the paranoid can easily view his or her employer or the U.S. Government as the enemy, and act accordingly. Alternatively, what appears to be paranoia may have a factual basis. Seemingly extreme concern about being investigated or watched or searching for listening devices or hidden cameras may indicate that a person is engaged in illegal activity and fears detection.
There is no single definitive symptom for schizophrenia, but a constellation of various possible symptoms that together cause a significant reduction in ability to function effectively at work, in interpersonal relations, or in care for oneself. The following symptoms are characteristic but do not normally all appear in any single case.
Delusions, such as belief that one is being persecuted or ridiculed, or that one's thoughts or body parts are being manipulated or have been replaced by someone else's.
Hallucinations, such as hearing voices.
Disorganized thinking and speech, such as slipping off the track from one topic to another, or completely unrelated responses.
Bizarre behavior, such as wearing multiple overcoats on a hot day, maintaining a rigid posture, or being unaware of one's surroundings.
Absence of emotion; inability to initiate or complete common, everyday activities at work or at home,
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that is usually disqualifying. Although some symptoms respond to treatment, complete remission is unusual.
Schizotypal personality disorder can be viewed as a mild form of schizophrenia. Behavior is eccentric rather than bizarre. Instead of delusions and hallucinations, there are milder perceptual distortions. Such persons may be preoccupied with superstitions or paranormal phenomena. They may believe they have magical control over others, e.g., believing that their spouse taking the dog for a walk is a direct result of their thinking it should be done an hour earlier. They may incorrectly interpret unrelated events as having a special message for them.
A defining element of schizotypal personality disorder is a pervasive pattern of having little desire for, being uncomfortable with, and having little capacity for maintaining close relationships. Such persons prefer to keep to themselves as they feel they are different and do not fit in. They usually have no or few close friends or confidants other than a close relative.
Schizotypal personality disorder is a serious security concern, as judgment is distorted. Inability to form close relationships suggests inability to develop loyalty.
1. Kneece, J. (1986). Family treason: The Walker spy case. Briarcliff Manor, NY: Stein and Day. And Earley, P. (1988). Family of spies: Inside the John Walker spy ring. New York: Bantam Books.>
2. National Institute of Mental Health. (2001). Post-traumatic stress Disorder (NIH Publication No. 01-4597). Bethesda, MD: Author. Fact Sheet retrieved April 15, 2010, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-easy-to-read/index.shtml
3. Blitzer, W. (1989). Territory of lies: The rise, fall, and betrayal of Jonathan Jay Pollard. New York: Harper & Row.