The most common meaning of “paranoid” has to do with irrational fears of persecution, especially the unjustified fear that people are plotting against you. More generally it is applied to irrational fears of other kinds, but it is often misused of rational fears, as in “I know my Mom has been reading my blog, so I’m paranoid that she’s found out what Jason and I did last Saturday night.” That’s not paranoia, but fully justifiable fear. It also doesn’t make sense to use “paranoid” about mild worries and fears. When you say you are paranoid, you should be conveying your own irrationality, not the risks you feel you are running.

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