Quotations about   paranoia

Note that not all quotations have been tagged, so the Search function may find additional quotations on this topic.



Any historian of warfare knows it is in good part a comedy of errors and a museum of incompetence; but if for every error and every act of incompetence one can substitute an act of treason, many points of fascinating interpretation are open to the paranoid imagination. In the end, the real mystery, for one who reads the primary works of paranoid scholarship, is not how the United States has been brought to its present dangerous position but how it has managed to survive at all.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964).
Added on 6-Jan-21 | Last updated 6-Jan-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Hofstadter, Richard

We are all sufferers from history, but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.

Douglas R. Hofstadter (b. 1945) American academic, cognitive scientist, author
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964).
Added on 30-Dec-20 | Last updated 30-Dec-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Hofstadter, Douglas

But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power. Their predecessors had discovered conspiracies; the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964).
Added on 9-Dec-20 | Last updated 9-Dec-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Hofstadter, Richard

The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman—sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way. He makes crises, starts runs on banks, causes depressions, manufactures disasters, and then enjoys and profits from the misery he has produced. The paranoid’s interpretation of history is distinctly personal: decisive events are not taken as part of the stream of history, but as the consequences of someone’s will.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964).
Added on 24-Nov-20 | Last updated 24-Nov-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Hofstadter, Richard

Sickness and sorrows come and go, but a superstitious soul hath no rest.

Robert Burton (1577-1640) English scholar
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 3.4.1.3 (1621-51)
    (Source)
Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 2-May-17
Link to this post | 2 comments
Topics: , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Burton, Robert

GLOUCESTER: Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind;
The thief doth fear each bush an officer.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry VI, Part III, Act 5, sc. 6, l. 11 (1590)
Added on 22-Feb-17 | Last updated 22-Feb-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Shakespeare, William

Suspicion begets suspicion.

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sententiae [Moral Sayings], # 928 [tr. Lyman (1862)]
Added on 15-Feb-17 | Last updated 15-Feb-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Publilius Syrus

There are two kinds of fools: those who suspect nothing and those who suspect everything.

Charles-Joseph Lamoral, Prince de Ligne (1735-1814) Belgian military leader, noble, writer [Karl Fürst von Ligne, Charles-Joseph de Ligne]
Mes écarts, ou, ma tête en liberté
Added on 8-Feb-17 | Last updated 8-Feb-17
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by De Ligne, Charles-Joseph

Captain, the problem is not that I’m paranoid. The problem is that the universe keeps justifying my paranoia.

John Scalzi (b. 1969) American writer
The End of All Things (2015)
Added on 25-Oct-16 | Last updated 25-Oct-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Scalzi, John

It’s one thing to be aware of complex strategies and lies that might be going on around you. It’s another to let yourself become so worried about deception that you become paralyzed.

Steven Brust (b. 1955) American writer, systems programmer
Dragon (1998)
Added on 19-Aug-16 | Last updated 19-Aug-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Brust, Steven

Once you get it into your head that somebody is controlling events, you can interpret everything in that light and find no reasonable certainty anywhere.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Foundation’s Edge, ch. 12 “Agent” (1982)
Added on 12-Jul-16 | Last updated 12-Jul-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Asimov, Isaac

It’s a police mantra that all members of the public are guilty of something, but some members of the public are more guilty than others.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Broken Homes (2013)

See Orwell.
Added on 6-Jan-16 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Aaronovitch, Ben

The higher paranoid scholarship is nothing if not coherent — in fact the paranoid mind is far more coherent than the real world.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)

Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964).
Added on 19-Jun-15 | Last updated 19-Jun-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Hofstadter, Richard

As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish. Since the enemy is thought of as being totally evil and totally unappeasable, he must be totally eliminated — if not from the world, at least from the theatre of operations to which the paranoid directs his attention. This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration. Even partial success leaves him with the same feeling of powerlessness with which he began, and this in turn only strengthens his awareness of the vast and terrifying quality of the enemy he opposes.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964).
Added on 4-Mar-15 | Last updated 4-Mar-15
Link to this post | 1 comment
Topics: , , , , ,
More quotes by Hofstadter, Richard

There is a hate layer of opinion and emotion in America. There will be other McCarthys to come who will be hailed as its heroes.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
“McCarthyism: The Smell of Decay,” New York Post (5 Apr 1950)

Lerner coined the term "McCarthyism" in this article. In 1954, he wrote, "For my own part I doubt seriously whether the word will outlast the political power of the man from whom it derives."
Added on 10-Feb-15 | Last updated 10-Feb-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , ,
More quotes by Lerner, Max

Bad rulers … are in constant fear lest others are conspiring to inflict upon them the punishment which they are conscious of deserving.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Italian politician, philosopher, political scientist
The Discourses on Livy, Book 3, ch. 6 (1517) [tr. Detmold (1882)]
Added on 21-Aug-13 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Machiavelli, Niccolo

Nations love dangers, and when there are none to be found create them to fill the want.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [tr. Collins (1928)]
Added on 27-Feb-12 | Last updated 13-May-16
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , ,
More quotes by Joubert, Joseph

Any manifest error on the part of an enemy should make us suspect some stratagem.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Italian politician, philosopher, political scientist
The Discourses on Livy, Book 3, ch. 48 (1517) [tr. Detmold (1882)]
Added on 22-Apr-11 | Last updated 27-Jan-20
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , , , , , , ,
More quotes by Machiavelli, Niccolo

You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.

No picture available
Olin Miller (fl. early 20th C) American humorist
(Attributed)

First quoted by Walter Winchell, "On Broadway" (7 Jan 1937)

Also frequently attributed to Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Ethel Barrett; the latter used it ("We would worry less about what others think of us, if we realized how seldom they do") in her 1968 book Don’t Look Now But Your Personality is Showing. See here for more information.

Variants:

  • "You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do."
  • "You wouldn’t worry about what people may think of you if you could know how seldom they do."
  • "We wouldn’t worry so much about what folks think of us if we knew how seldom they do."
  • "You wouldn’t worry so much about what people think of you, if you knew how seldom they do."
  • "You wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think if you realized how seldom they do."

See also Johnson.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Feb-15
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , , ,
More quotes by Miller, Olin

Hastur was paranoid, which was simply a sensible and well-adjusted reaction to living in Hell, where they really were all out to get you.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Good Omens (1990) [with Neil Gaiman]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Jun-21
Link to this post | No comments
Topics: , ,
More quotes by Pratchett, Terry