Leo Sher, M.D.
A research group in Germany studied the relationship between loneliness and paranoia (1). The authors of the study have found that loneliness affects paranoia.
Loneliness has been defined as “distressful consciousness of an inner distance to other humans and thus as a desire for satisfying and meaningful relations” (1,2). In other words, loneliness is a subjective, emotional, and cognitive assessment of an individual’s position in his/her social situation (3).
The researchers recruited 60 healthy individuals. Loneliness was experimentally manipulated using a false-feedback paradigm.
The authors observed that
• Reduction of loneliness leads to a decrease of paranoid beliefs.
• Induction of loneliness increases paranoid beliefs at trend level.
• Proneness to psychosis moderates the impact of loneliness on paranoia.
The results of this study are consistent with previous observations that there are cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between loneliness and paranoid ideation (4-6).
1. Lamster, F., Nittel, C., Rief, W., Meh,l S., Lincoln, T. (2016). The impact of loneliness on paranoia: An experimental approach. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 54, 51-57.
2. Schwab, R. (1997). Einsamkeit: Grundlagen für die klinisch-psychologische Diagnostik und Intervention. Bern: Hans Huber.
3. Macdonald, E. M., Hayes, R. L., Baglioni, A. J. (2000). The quantity and quality of the social networks of young people with early psychosis compared with closely matched controls. Schizophrenia Research, 46(1), 25-30.
4. Kimhy, D., Delespaul, P., Corcoran, C., Ahn, H., Yale, S., Malaspina, D. (2006). Computerized experience sampling method (ESMc): Assessing feasibility and validity among individuals with schizophrenia. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 40(3), 221-230.
5. Sündermann, O., Onwumere, J., Kane, F., Morgan, C., Kuipers, E. (2014). Social networks and support in first-episode psychosis: Exploring the role of loneliness and anxiety. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49(3), 359-366.
6. Van der Werf, M., van Winkel, R., van Boxtel, M., van Os, J. (2010). Evidence that the impact of hearing impairment on psychosis risk is moderated by the level of complexity of the social environment. Schizophrenia Research, 122(1-3), 193-198.