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Understanding and treating persecutory delusions: an interventionist-causal model approach

Medical Research Council Senior Clinical Fellowship award to Prof Freeman

Paranoia denotes the fear that others intend to cause you harm. Like other psychiatric problems such as fears and phobias, there is a spectrum of severity of paranoia. It occurs most dramatically as delusions of persecution, but is related to suspicious thoughts that occur in 10-20% of the general population. There is a pressing need to develop better treatment. One way to achieve this is to draw upon knowledge of the causes of the problem.  If a potential factor is causal, then by deliberately increasing or decreasing it there will be an effect on paranoia. In a unique programme, a series of studies will be carried out that takes such an approach to paranoia. Interventionist studies provide techniques that can be incorporated into treatments; this has been particularly demonstrated for anxiety disorders and the aim is to emulate this for paranoia. The final study will bring together all Prof Freeman's work in a test of a new treatment package for persecutory delusions.