It’s a wonder how many things
we come to doubt throughout the course of our lives. The exact opposite of
doubt is blind faith. A sound mind should always inquire, search and
experiment. In order to eliminate
ambiguity, one should look into it again, try it again, try and make sense of
things. However such endeavors do not
always fully remove the doubts in our heads.
This is when the distinction between clear thinking and unclear thinking
becomes clear. Clear thinking allows a
certain degree of ambiguity and copes with doubt.
Despite having doubts, we feel the need to believe. Having faith in someone or things gives us a
sense of security. Problems start,
however, when the doubts that arise as “Does my friend really care about me?”
turn into constant trials, and the love affair that kicks off with a seemingly
exciting doubt as “Does she love me?” turns into an unbearable obsession with
the nagging doubt of “Is she having an affair with someone else?”. What’s more, if your doubts have been
confirmed a few times in the past, then the gradually increasing loss of faith
and trust makes the problem all the more difficult. Faith is required for getting rid of
doubts. Faith in your personality,
abilities and skills prevents you from doubting yourself. Having trust and faith in yourself makes it
easier for you to trust others and set aside your doubts. Doubts regarding the persons, institutions
and values you trust lose their significance.
But when some of your doubts were confirmed in the past and you suffered
a trauma as a result, then you become a doubting Thomas and begin to doubt
everything. Suddenly all the realities,
values, affairs and persons that are considered to be beyond doubt are subject
to doubt. When you think you will be rid
of your doubts as you investigate further, you find that each and every query
serves to increase your doubts.
Increasing personal skepticism leads you into paranoia, while the
increasing social skepticism leads a nation towards conspiracy theories and
into a chaos where social realities are all but lost.
LIES BENEATH PARANOIA IS LACK OF TRUST
All doubts could potentially
turn into a full fledged paranoia some day.
By definition, paranoia is an unrealistic belief that others are out
there to harm you. What lies beneath
paranoia is lack of trust. Such a
condition that gradually increases in severity makes a person increasingly
doubt that someone will harm him/her, and that he/she is cheated, followed or
monitored. They begin to perceive everything in their vicinity in this line of
reasoning. They focus all of their attention into that particular point, they
seek evidence that will confirm their doubts and they get defensive. To them,
what is shown is fiction, and the things told are lies concocted to deceive
him/her. He/she sees everything that symbolizes the world that he/she distrusts
as a threat. They may think that all the
medicine is designed to kill him/her, and that everybody with a uniform poses a
threat, and that “those who wear black could harm them”. They increasingly
become suspicious of everything that represents danger and they read into every
action and behavior. After a while, a social paranoia establishes itself. The undeniable indicator of social paranoia
is, too, an ongoing lack of trust. The
world is perceived as a threatening place where one goes on the defensive all
the time. Even the most trivial things
are perceived as indicators that confirm such a perception. Social paranoia creates the distinction
between “us” and “them”.
It, then, gives rise to the following line of thinking: “We are right,
they are not” and “They create danger”. Social paranoia may go so far
as to limit personal freedoms and justify the wrongdoings intended for the
destruction of the other.
We all have doubts. We all have some degree of paranoia. But stepping into the territory of mental
illness has to do as much with the degree of its influence over our lives and
our current mental condition with respect to the process as with how much our
doubts are instigated and to what extent our sense of insecurity is inflated. A
well known graffiti says that “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean
they are not after you”. In the similar vein, living in a country where
individuals are getting ever more distrustful of themselves, the society, the
social institutions and their future, and where all the talks, articles and
news serve to further exacerbate such distrustfulness, being doubtful about
everything does not necessarily mean that you are paranoid. You’ll be fine as
long as you don’t let them turn you into a paranoid person.
Prof. Dr. Bengi Semerci