Application to Paranoid Personality Disorder

According to the DSM-IV-TR, people with Paranoid Personality Disorder are hypervigilant, distrustful, suspicious, and pathologically jealous. As noted, Jensen et al. (1997) hypothesized that hypervigilance might have been adaptive in ancestral environments where conditions were unsafe, there were few resources, and time was of the essence. They further proposed that such "response ready" individuals would be at an advantage over more contemplative or phlegmatic individuals, particularly in primitive battlefield situations.

For males in the ancestral environment, distrustfulness, suspicion, and jealousy might have been of adaptive value in reproductive relationships to help ensure that any resulting children from a sexual union were from that male and not some other male. From a female's perspective, these same traits might have helped to ensure that a male mate did not share precious resources with other females. Because these personality disorder traits seem to be highly heritable (and additive), individual differences in the magnitude of these traits is to be expected. The Paranoid Personality Disorder is also one of the more prevalent personality disorders, thus, perhaps reinforcing the notion of the value of hypervigilance and jealousy in the ancestral environment.

Some evolutionary psychologists (e.g., Stevens & Price, 1996) even argue that the paranoid disposition is a trait that all humans share to some extent. They postulate that life has al ways taught us to expect trouble. They hypothesize that typical social interactions keep our suspicions at bay and reinforce our trust in others. In those individuals where their paranoid predispositions are higher than normal, their paranoia and suspi-ciousness further isolates them from social interactions that might otherwise ameliorate their paranoid tendencies.

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