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Believing that the world is out to get them, paranoid individuals are potentially violent, especially if they become depressed. A high percentage of organizational violence is perpetrated by depressed paranoid individuals. Once a paranoid individual has significant symptoms that are impairing work or home life, professional assistance is necessary to deal with the risk of further deterioration of his condition as well as the risk of violence or other destructive behavior. Paranoid individuals do not ask for help. Someone needs to reach out to them and insist that they get help. After violence occurs, people often comment that they knew something was seriously wrong. Cultures in which people are willing to speak up and share information when someone is doing poorly are at less risk for violence than ones in which people leave each other alone.

Table 4-1. Dealing with Paranoid Managers
SymptomsUnderlying FactorsImpactWays for Subordinates to CopeWays for Senior Management to Cope
Unreasonably suspicious

Questions loyalty of associates

Hesitant to confide in anyone lest it be used against him

Sees hidden meanings in events and actions

Perceives attacks on reputation that others do not see

Bears grudges
Fragile self-esteem


Depression and negative self-image

Tendency to use externalization and projection to handle inner conflict
Limited ability to cooperate with others

Threat of assaults

Damages morale
Avoid any actions that could raise suspicions

Give plenty of information on activities

Seriously consider a transfer
Keep an eye on the person’s anger, depression, and increased paranoia, which signal a risk of violence

Consider encouraging them to leave

Avoid embarrassing or demeaning them

Avoid letting this person become key to your functioning



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