Most everyone has had a few moments of feeling paranoid, feeling like other people are out to get them. Sadly, there are those who feel this way due to mental illness. Schizophrenia is known to make people feel this way, for example. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can do it as well. Some folks, however, behave in this manner while having no mental illness.
Consider cases of couples with a child who are getting divorced. One parent tells the child the other parent is terrible, doesn’t love them & other awful things. This parent is vilifying the other to turn the child against him or her, which also naturally draws the child closer to the accusatory parent. This also sets the child up to have what is known as persecutory delusions.
Another common scenario where persecutory delusions happen involves narcissistic families. They often want their children to stay close to them forever. One of the ways they try to accomplish this is by using persecutory delusions. They tell each other that other people are bad, don’t really care about them, no one loves you like family & other untrue things. This doesn’t stop in adulthood. When children of narcissistic families marry, often their parents & siblings have no problem showing their disapproval of their new in-law. They not only treat this person terribly, they let their feelings be known to their adult child. These narcissists either insinuate or say clearly that this person isn’t good enough to be in their family. They find ways to convince the adult child of their feelings, even to the point of blatantly lying about the spouse. Their lies are often completely outrageous. As one example from my life, one of my sisters in-law once told my husband I “stole” him & keep him from their family. Nothing could have been further from the truth, yet she was very convicted when she told him this. Clearly she was trying to convince my husband that her lies were the truth in an attempt to cause us problems or even get us to split up.
When one person in a marriage has been subjected to this treatment by their family members that facilitates persecutory delusions, it can be incredibly difficult for both parties in the marriage. One doesn’t want to believe that their family would lie to them, & may believe their family rather than face the fact they are lying. The one being lied about is going to be hurt not only by the in-laws, but by their spouse who believes the lies. Couples in this situation can end up divorced because of such toxic behavior.
If you are in this situation, there is hope! The best thing I know to do is ask God to reveal the truth. Whether you are the relative being abused or the spouse, the truth is vital to your situation.
If you are the one in this situation, question everything. Don’t blindly believe what your family tells you. Just because they are your family doesn’t mean they know everything or have your best interests at heart. Often family can be the cruelest to their own. When they say things to you that make you feel others are out to get you somehow, look for the truth & keep an open mind. Ask yourself what evidence is there that what this person says is happening? Look for information that either supports or disproves what they say. If it helps, write things down. Make two columns, one for things that prove what they say is accurate & the other for things that prove what they say is inaccurate. Talk to someone you know who is safe, logical & can be objective. Sometimes an objective third party can give a new perspective on your situation.
If you are the spouse, then the best piece of advice I can offer is to love your spouse & live in such a way that they can’t help but know that what their narcissistic family says about you makes absolutely no sense. This will make them question things their family members say, or ideally not believe them at all. If they somehow don’t question things, ask your spouse to give examples of when you behaved as the narcissists say you did. When they can’t come up with anything, that will plant doubt in their mind about the validity of their family’s comments. Also when discussing this topic, remain as calm as possible. If you show your anger, your spouse naturally will feel they must defend their family.
You can handle this situation, & you will come out of it stronger & wiser.