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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2012 Sep;200(9):777-83. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318266ba57.

Dynamics of self-esteem in "poor-me" and "bad-me" paranoia.

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  • 1Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Psychology, The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.


The dynamics of self-esteem and paranoia were examined in 41 patients with past or current paranoia and 23 controls using questionnaires and the Experience Sampling Method (a structured diary technique). For some analyses, patients were further divided into three groups: a) individuals who believed that persecution is underserved ("poor me"; PM), b) individuals who believed that persecution is justified ("bad me"; BM), and c) remitted patients. The results revealed that PM and especially BM patients had highly unstable psychological profiles. Beliefs about deservedness of persecution fluctuated over 6 days. BM beliefs were associated with low self-esteem and depression. Measured concurrently, paranoia predicted lower self-esteem in the BM patients. Prospectively, paranoia predicted lower subsequent self-esteem in BM patients but higher subsequent self-esteem in PM patients. Our results suggest that paranoia can serve a defensive function in some circumstances. The reasons for inconsistencies in self-esteem research in relation to paranoia are discussed.

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