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View Full Version : Treating Paranoid Disorder and Claustrophobia



Gammer
12-28-2011, 08:04 AM
In my fantasy WIP, one of my major characters, Rin is a ninja/spy for the Empire who is a pretty paranoid and is very claustrophobic. In the opening chapter, she nearly has a panic attack because she keeps imagining arrows and other forms of attacks coming her way. Plus she's in a forest so she believes that the trees are closing in on her if she stays still too long.

But my question is, what are some techniques to deal with these disorders? To avoid the panic attack I have her reciting a three phrase mantra and some breathing techniques taught to her by her "therapist" Master Yamada.

Are those techniques enough for her to be capable in the field? Or are there more ways to overcome these disorders?

Siri Kirpal
12-28-2011, 08:33 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Perhaps one of our medical people can confirm (or not), but I believe paranoia is in part caused by thyroid problems. In your character's circumstances, one way of treating it could be eating foods high in iodine, like seaweed or fish.

The mantra and breathing techniques should work for the panic attacks, especially if your character recites the mantras with genuine reverence. The breathing must be deep and slow, from the diaphragm. (I've taught mantras and breathing techniques a bunch...and quelled my own phobias with them as well.) But they may not help the paranoia.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

tedi.s
12-29-2011, 09:28 AM
they give me drugs for paranoia. :D Hey, it works!

Buffysquirrel
12-29-2011, 03:56 PM
One technique is to take yourself (mentally) to your safe place. If I'm caught in a situation where I'm starting to panic, I breathe in counting ten, hold the breath while I count ten, then breathe out counting ten, to make sure I don't hyperventilate, while at the same time I build the picture of my safe place in my head. It's a beach, with quiet waves running in, and NO PEOPLE.

Sounds like your character's place would be a nice big desert with no trees.

Basically what you're trying to do is overcome the body's autonomic reactions using willpower. Not easy, but it gets easier with practice.

archetypewriting
12-30-2011, 07:58 AM
Do you mean "paranoid" colloquially, or are you meaning your character has a disorder? There are multiple types of paranoia, including paranoid delusions (a form of psychosis, which would be treated with medications), paranoid schizophrenia (also a form of psychosis, but more severe than a delusional disorder), and paranoid personality disorder, which is NOT treated with medications but is traditionally thought to develop when one grows up in an environment that creates paranoia (e.g. a demeaning environment).

It sounds to me like your character is more colloquially paranoid, as in the type of "paranoid" people make air quotes around.

Claustrophobia, meanwhile, is diagnosed as a "specific phobia," and true treatment would probably involve what's called exposure therapy, as in the therapist helps the person face the fear, first by teaching coping and relaxation techniques, and then by encouraging the person to use those techniques while confronting the fear, either in imagination or in real life. Some therapists use what's called an "exposure hierarchy," which means that rather than throwing the person headfirst into her most feared situation, you work your way up to it by dealing with less-scary things in a hierarchical fashion.

trickywoo
12-30-2011, 08:26 AM
I'm not sure about those phobias, but I know some recs for panic attacks:

The deep breathing and safe place as mentioned. Also, doing some small physical sensation - like snapping a rubber band around your wrist - to take your mind off the panicky feelings.

Buffysquirrel
12-30-2011, 06:36 PM
Rubber band sounds good. In ASDA over Christmas I was doing the worry bead thing with one of the free plastic bags.

Wiskel
12-30-2011, 08:11 PM
It sounds to me like your character is more colloquially paranoid, as in the type of "paranoid" people make air quotes around.

.


I second this. It sounds like you're using the word paranoid where i might use "panicky".

in essence, anxiety is our danger sense. it's great when it warns us about something genuinely dangerous in a low key way so that we don't experiement with dipping our finger into the suspicious green glowing goo, or when it makes us anxious enough to run like hell away from a cave that's home to an angry bear, but it can give too loud a warning when danger isn't imminent and feeling panicky can make us act rashly when calm and considered behaviour is safer.

Anxiety and panic generally speeds things up. it makes us breathe faster, speeds up our heart rate, makes us prone to purposeless fidgeting, would make us scan the environment for danger. relaxation techniques generally slow things down and provide a template for a rhythm or pattern that's more controlled.

Your mantra is a focus to bring your character back to a degree of control when they're starting to feel out of control. Anything that provides focus is good. Anything that slows the body down is good, like controlled breathing exercises. Anything that slows the thinking down, stops your character from imagining danger is everywhere and allows her to use her training and skils to actually look out for genuine danger is generally good.

The only positive efect anxiety would have for a spy is that it tends to sharpen the senses so if there is a sound or movement then they're more likely to notice it. Great if they notice a guard, less great if they notice every branch moving in the wind.

Any system you create for your character that is based on maintiaing focus, slowing themselves down or combating the physical changes to the body that go with panic will ring true and work for your story. Be as creative as you like. add a rhythm and a speed to the mantra so that it has to be recited in the same way each time....add a deep breath after every repetition so that you're gaining control back over breathing, add an elaborate bow at the end to show your character regaining control over tense and shaking muscles. Make her close her eyes when she recites it to cut out all of the visual distractions in the world around her and allow her to focus on an internal image of her safe place.........and then have someone overhear her saying the mantra, sneak up on her while her eyes are closed and disarm her while she's bowing for the sake of general drama and making it harder for her to overcome her panic symptoms. :evil

craig

Gammer
01-14-2012, 10:17 PM
One technique is to take yourself (mentally) to your safe place. If I'm caught in a situation where I'm starting to panic, I breathe in counting ten, hold the breath while I count ten, then breathe out counting ten, to make sure I don't hyperventilate, while at the same time I build the picture of my safe place in my head. It's a beach, with quiet waves running in, and NO PEOPLE.

Sounds like your character's place would be a nice big desert with no trees.

Basically what you're trying to do is overcome the body's autonomic reactions using willpower. Not easy, but it gets easier with practice.

That makes perfect sense character-wise because she grew up in a desert, and prefers deserts because to her you can at least see who is trying to kill you

lbender
01-15-2012, 03:58 AM
There's a saying about it not being paranoia if they really are after you. She's a spy. They really are after her. A touch of paranoia might be considered a job requirement...so be careful how she handles it.