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  • One of the most useful realisations we  might come to about ourselves is that we  

  • areparanoid.’ The word is easy to laugh off  as impossibly eccentric, evoking people who  

  • insist that they are being tailed by the secret  service or watched over by an alien species. But  

  • the reality is lot more normal-looking and  far less comedic-feeling. To be paranoid in  

  • the true sense is to suffer from a repeated  feeling that most people hate us, that most  

  • situations are extremely dangerous and that some  kind of catastrophe is likely to befall us soon

  • It may not be immediately obvious what connects  up - for example - our impression that a colleague  

  • is taking us for a fool, with our fear of being  talked about unkindly by our friends, with our  

  • impression that the waiter has deliberately  placed us at the worst table and our dread  

  • that were about to be caught up in a scandal. But our sense that the world is permanently and  

  • imminently conspiring to belittle, attack and  humiliate us is most likely the outcome of a  

  • very particular string of experiences of  belittlement, attack and humiliation that  

  • will have occurred at the hands of just one  or two people in our formative years - and  

  • yet that will have been carefully submerged  and overlooked. And this will have been done  

  • because we have implicitly preferred to fear the  world rather than acknowledge the reality of the  

  • torment we underwent at the hands of characters  - who might also be our mother or father - whom  

  • we would have liked so much to trust and to love. It’s unfortunate that our minds need to discharge  

  • their toxins somewhere and that if they have been  blocked from doing so in the appropriate location,  

  • they will seek to do so anywhere that feels  remotely relevant: the office or the restaurant,  

  • the party or the newspaper article. The hatred  and viciousness we fear from colleagues,  

  • friends or social media is only a proxy for  what we once received from sources close to  

  • home - and which we have lacked the support  required to return back to their senders

  • Understanding who has crushed and scarred  us constitutes a critical part of adult  

  • self-knowledge. It is also - we should recognise  - an insight we may be deeply reluctant to secure,  

  • opting to be forever terrified rather than  raise arguments against our treatment by  

  • care-givers whom we have chosen to believe  are innocent. It may one day feel as though  

  • far fewer people are actually laughing  at us and that there is far less risk of  

  • a scandal soon - once we understand that the  mockery and shaming we anticipate for tomorrow  

  • already unfolded in our heartrendingly  anguished and unexplored yesterdays.

One of the most useful realisations we  might come to about ourselves is that we  

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