BIOLOGICAL FACTORS IN THE ETIOLOGY OF PARANOIA
By Ozodi Thomas Osuji – There are probably biological reasons why people feel inferior and restitute with false sense of superiority. In his individual psychology, Alfred Adler tried to root the origin of neurosis in what he called inferior organs. He argued that the exigencies of living in an impersonal universe that does not seem to care for our survival demand that human beings be strong and powerful to adapt to them. Those children who are born with healthy organs develop normal personalities (feel mildly inferior but not debilitating inferiority). Those children who are born with major medical problems tend to feel that they are unable to cope with the challenges of their world and as a result feel inadequate and inferior. Some of them try to compensate with grandiose self-concepts, by feeling fictional superiority to other persons.
Since other persons demonstrably are stronger medically compromised children and they feel inferior to them they compensate by convincing themselves that they are superior to the strong, healthy persons. They go about trying to prove to people that they are superior persons.
Persons who feel obsessive-compulsive desire to seem superior to other persons are neurotic ala Adler. Today we would say that they have paranoid personality, or narcissistic personality or anti-social personality disorder; and in more serious cases delusion disorder and if they additionally hallucinate, schizophrenic, paranoid type.
To the best of my knowledge no one has demonstrated a specific medical disorder considered etiological in paranoia. It is probably true, however, that a whole host of medical disorders make some children to feel inadequate and if those are added to social situations that accept children conditionally then we can see some children developing paranoia.
Thus, we can say that many Igbos inherited biological disorders that contribute to their feeling inadequate and that their society’s conditional acceptance of children exacerbated their situation and made them feel inordinately inferior and they try seeming superior.
IMMIGRANT STATUS ENHANCES PARANOIA
Immigration to foreign lands tends to enhance feelings of paranoia in those already predisposed to paranoia. In America, for example, immigrants from nonwhite countries tend to be socially marginalized. They tend to be relegated to the lower ranks of the social status system. A medical doctor who was a person of high status in his home country if he comes to the USA and is doing jobs other than that of medical doctor (say, physician assistant) feels loss of social status. If he is invested in being seen as a person of high social status it follows that his ego and vanity takes a blow. He feels diminished and small. That means that he feels belittled, degraded, disgraced, humiliated etc., all signs of paranoid personality. The paranoid personality so desires high social importance (to mask his underlying sense of inferiority and inadequacy) that he quickly notices any lack of such treatment and feels belittled and demeaned. Generally he quarrels with those he feels are demeaning him, accuses them of demeaning him. He is always accusing people of demeaning him (people do demean him except that it would not have mattered to him if he had not desired social importance).
For our present purposes immigrants tend to suffer higher levels of paranoia than persons living in their home environment where they are born and accepted as important members of their society. In America black folks are treated as inferior persons.
In America, Igbos who want to be seen as superior persons are likely to feel the social degradation engendered by racism more than the average black person. Thus, you see them displacing their sense of humiliation to their spouses and children by being angry at them; some of them engage in physical abuse of their spouses and children; indeed, some kill their spouses for not respecting them hence making them feel inadequate.
In sum, paranoid persons drive to seem superior results in rejection of their real selves and the postulation of fictional ideal selves that they want to become. The pursuit of the ideal self is at the root of their paranoia and delusion disorder.
They want to be ideal, perfect selves and some come to believe that they are those imaginary ideal perfect selves hence have lost touch with the reality of their imperfection (all of us are imperfect).
Many Igbos have false beliefs about their imaginary worth (delusion of grandeur) and feel persecuted by other Nigerians (delusion of persecution. Seen in the manner I contextualized the phenomenon of delusion disorder paranoia is a human phenomenon. It is merely exaggerated in Igbos because of the nature of their culture. Their culture does not accept children in an unconditional positive manner.
Igbo culture is pathological: it accepts people only if they are achievers (healthy cultures and people accept people in an unconditional positive manner, as good and love and respect them for being who they are, human beings). If you are not an achiever the culture desecrates and rejects you (if you visit their internet groups they are always talking about how this or that person is a social failure and the intention is to marginalize that person; these people have no respect for human beings and condition their acceptance of people on their being successful, regardless of how they obtain their success, including stealing money to seem rich).
An example of this phenomenon is found in Chinua Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. In it, the chief character, Okonkwo’s father was rejected by his fellow villagers; the man liked to play his musical instrument and sing but to his people artists are social failures so he was not regarded as an important man in his society and was rejected. Okonkwo strove to not be like his father so as not to be rejected by his culture; he wanted to be a success, that is, meet the condition for social acceptance set by his people; have many yams, marry many wives etc. In striving to become an important man Okonkwo did achieve a lot but in the process developed paranoid personality disorder (as many achieving Igbos tend to do).
Igbo culture plays a role in the high incidence of paranoia in Igbos. When the culture changes and accepts people unconditionally, loves them as they are, it would produce less paranoid persons. At present just about all Igbos I see have paranoid traits.
Carl Rogers defines mental health as self-acceptance not based on any conditions; a healthy person accepts himself as he is, without any reference to external condition; a healthy person accepts himself regardless of what other people think or say of him.
Many Igbos would like to believe that they are superior to other Nigerians, if not to all people. To the extent that they believe in their superiority they are deluded (paranoid), for they believe in what is not true as true, and pay the price of disturbing their peace and happiness (when a person believes what is not true as true he gives himself tension and anxiety and is never happy and peaceful; it is when a person lives the truth, our human equality, that he is peaceful and happy, and tension free).
The next time you encounter an Igbo take a close look at his body: it is almost always tense and anxious, meaning that he is not at peace with himself and is not happy. The reason is because he is pursuing the chimera of importance and superiority.
When a person gives up the neurotic desire to be important and superior he feels like a bucket of cold water is dowsed on him, he feels relaxed and happy. I certainly felt peaceful and happy when I gave up the Igbo drive to be important and simply accepted me as I am…without apologies to anyone else.
All human beings are the same and coequal. The Tsunami that killed 30, 000 in Japan did not make allowances for peoples social distinctions or for what people think of themselves; to nature we are animals and not different from other animals and it destroys us as it destroys rats and trees.
What can we do about the problem? Ask people to give up their egoistic delusions of worth and turn to God where real worth lies?
God is love. When people love themselves and one another they derive some worth; they cannot obtain worth by masquerading as very important persons without helping other persons.
Igbos and other Africans, of all human beings have the worst self-esteem; many of them feel like feces, deny it and mask it with their delusional senses of worth.
Why do Igbos and Africans have low self-esteem? It is because they are not a loving people (they seldom employ the word love in their social discourse and consider you strange if you ask them to love one another). Remember that they sold their brothers and sisters into slavery hence do not love any one.
Those who do not love themselves and other persons do not have positive self-esteem (except the pretended, vacuous ones we see in Africans…they are so cowardly that they permit their thievish leaders to steal most of their money; they are not man enough to fight for liberty, as we see Arabs currently doing in Libya etc…all they do is talk tough but when bullets fly they, like chicken, run away and go hide in underground burrows, or run overseas and do menial work for white folks while talking as if they are important and all powerful beings).
The only way they, Igbos and Africans, can obtain real worth is by loving one another, which entails working for one another’s welfare, not by pretending to have worth and claiming to be Dr. Professor chief Idiot of the world.