The Obdurate Paranoid

Obdurate paranoids combine aspects of the paranoid and compulsive personalities, but like all paranoid patterns, they are more unstable and pathological than their compulsive counterparts.

Like the compulsive, they are rigid, perfectionistic, grim, humorless, tense, overcontrolled, small-minded, peevish, legalistic, and self-righteous.

However, whereas compulsivesOpens in new window temper their angst with the belief that success and happiness can be achieved by conforming to the dictates of authority, obdurate paranoids renounce this dependency, taking on a posture of unabashed self-assertion. They actively rebel against any and all external constraints in a maladaptive effort to regain their sense of perceived control and overturn injustices previously doled out on them.

While they do continue to seek clarity from imposed rules and regulations, they are now the imposers of a system that is used to attack others, usually through either legal action or the setting of impossible rules that cannot realistically be followed.

Those in this paranoid personality’s wake are despised for their weakness, their sloppiness and lack of regard for disciplined behavior, their failure to live an organized life, and their hypocrisy.

Despite these assertions of nonconformity and dominance, however, obdurate paranoids are not likely to eschew deep-seated feelings of guilt and fear of retribution. Further, they may appear to function normally much of the time but possess tightly compartmentalized persecutory delusions.

These tendencies go largely unnoticed, but the individual’s hypersensitive antennae are perpetually in alert mode, noticing any unusual twitch, remark, or facial expression emanating from nearby others.

It is not unusual for this paranoid pattern to project their anger onto others—thereby creating the perception of hostile intent from innocuous or absent signals.

In fact, what we now think of as classical paranoia, that is, compartmentalized beliefs separate and apart from a patient’s usual thought process, usually emanates from those of the obdurate variant because of their tightly controlled, segmented belief structure: When a sensitive nerve is touched, their otherwise normal functioning is impaired and the hidden beliefs become manifest.

    The research data for this work have been adapted from:
  1. Understanding Paranoia: A Guide for Professionals, Families, and Sufferers By Martin Kantor
  2. Personality Disorders: Toward the DSM-V By William O'Donohue, Katherine A. Fowler, Scott O. Lilienfeld.
  3. The Fundamentals of Psychological Medicine By R.R. Tilleard-Cole, J. Marks
  4. Personality Disorders in Modern Life By Theodore Millon, Carrie M. Millon, Sarah E. Meagher, Seth D. Grossman, Rowena Ramnath