What a rare mental disorder can teach you about your perceptions

Meet John… If you think your life is hard, wait until you see John’s.

Why is everyone thinking about being kind to me?

I know the boss is conspiring to give me that promotion.

Why are those women all attracted to me?

I have a terrible feeling something good is going to happen to me.

Why are all my projects so well received?

John has pronoia. This is the delusion that everyone is secretly plotting his success.

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Imagine the terror he feels every morning. For many unfortunate people, this is their reality. A lifetime of being able to see nothing but the good.

Please give generously so people like John can have a chance at the life you and I have. Everyone deserves the right to see the bad things in life.


Joking aside, there might just be something in this for you and me. Look at this description of pronoia.

Pronoia is the positive counterpart of paranoia. It is the delusion that others think well of one. Actions and the products of one’s efforts are thought to be well received and praised by others. Mere acquaintances are thought to be close friends; politeness and the exchange of pleasantries are taken as expressions of deep attachment.

Pronoia

Do you see it, the common theme?

You perceive everything as positive. Now, not everything and everyone in life is positive. But we can do something else. We can give people the benefit of the doubt. We can look for the humanity behind the insult and the person behind the mask.

When we find the good, we are more likely to open up. This is when connection happens.

I can’t promise that you won’t get hurt. You probably will. But for the Canadians out there, let’s seek the wise counsel of Wayne Gretzky.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Wayne Gretzky
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Published in Philosophy, Psychology, Self Improvement
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