STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Paranoia on the Rise, Experts Say
By - November 13, 2008

If you think they're out to get you, you're not alone. Paranoia, once assumed to afflict only schizophrenics, may be a lot more common than previously thought. According to British psychologist Daniel Freeman, nearly one in four Londoners regularly have paranoid thoughts. Freeman is a paranoia expert at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College and the author of a book on the subject. Experts say there is a wide spectrum of paranoia, from the dangerous delusions that drive schizophrenics to violence to the irrational fears many people have daily. "We are now starting to discover that madness is human and that we need to look at normal people to understand it," said Dr. Jim van Os, a professor of psychiatry at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Van Os was not connected to Freeman's studies. Paranoia is defined as the exaggerated or unfounded fear that others are trying to hurt you. – AP

Dominant Social Theme: Think healthy thoughts, please.

Free-Market Analysis: Let's see. Paper investments around the world have dropped by 50 percent, jobless claims are way up and promising worse, and the entire United States car industry is disintegrating. There is a $400 trillion derivatives market that could come unglued any minute and a housing market, worldwide, that won't stop falling apart.

A war against terror rages on several fronts while Western governments pursue security above all else at home – claiming unlimited wiretaps as well as seemingly unlimited censorship of state secrets. In America, habeas corpus has been eliminated and in Britain its privacy has apparently been erased, with thousands of cameras spying on ordinary citizens in public places, and more on the way.

Federal bailouts of big businesses, especially banks, are increasingly common, but foreclosures are more common as well, creating a dichotomy between rich and poor and big and little that will not easily be rectified. Disinflation is eating away at core assets such as investments and houses while inflation is pushing up the prices of food, energy and healthcare. In the West, more and more fear for their jobs and those who have reached retirement fear for their ability to live within their means.

There are plenty of reasons to feel paranoid in today's environment. War, bad times and worse markets are hiking the misery level all around. About the only thing that hasn't happened yet is a full-blown plague, but there are regular indications that one may strike – at least if you listen to the international WHO.

The Anglo-Saxon alliance of Britain and the United States is full-on when it comes to propaganda. In Britain, various intelligence agencies stoke the paranoia level while in America, Homeland Security regularly predicts grim happenings. Public discussions of nuclear explosions in major cities are increasingly accepted as reality while airline travelers must undergo invasive searches to prove they are not terrorists and have no intention to highjack.

After Thoughts

The only surprise is that the level of paranoia isn't worse. In fact, discussions of paranoia in Western societies in the past have been discouraged because one of the most important meme's of the monetary elite is that societies are neither manipulated nor steered. In other words, we got here – where we are – because it had to be so. We are responsible for how things are and if we don't like it, we can change them. Yet the very presence of central banks and the monetary policies that surround them should put paid to any perception that the larger economy is not in a constant state of manipulation. Central banks are themselves price-fixing mechanisms and the fixing is done by a human element.

Anyone with a sufficient grasp of reality might well feel a twinge of paranoia at the pattern of current events. The best way to counteract it is to seek solutions that alleviate the helplessness that often accompanies such a state. Preparing for the worst, something we Swiss are rather familiar with, by buying dried foods, weapons and of course gold and silver are ways of taking positive action in the face of creeping discomfort. One man's paranoia is another's prudence.

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