Is there a term beyond 'low self esteem' or 'neurotic' that describes a person that is compulsive in thinking the entire world is looking down on them?


1 Answer 1


Consider persecutory delusion. They are compulsive in that they manifest as extreme, irrational suspicions with little or no basis in reality. The irrational components often involve absurdly elaborate conspiracy theories, so this is probably close enough to "the entire world", but it often goes much further than "looking down" into more severe forms of persecution. I don't know what you mean by "beyond" though. Persecutory delusions will probably enhance neuroticism and may erode self-esteem or arise from problems with it, but they have somewhat separate etiology.

Response to your comment

Persecutory delusions are a prominent feature of paranoid schizophrenia, but they are not unique to that disorder. IMO, ordinary people may experience them. What you describe in your comment below doesn't sound like a delusion though, or even a compulsion necessarily. It sounds more like projection of the person's own self-deprecating thoughts. I would rather call this a habitual reliance on a classic defense mechanism than call it a compulsion, which has a subtly different technical meaning.

It seems the person is seeking external confirmation of his/her self-perceptions, or maybe seeking help in refuting them somewhat manipulatively. By putting harsh words in your mouth, the person urges you to deny them, and in the process fishes for affirming words to the contrary from you. It's hard to tell whether any of these words represent stable beliefs or just momentary thoughts and appeals for reassurance.

  • $\begingroup$ I found this interesting but it seems a bit too much on the schizophrenic side. The person I'm thinking of always finds a way to turn a topic into a slight against themselves. For instance "You said you like going to the gym and I don't. You think I'm obese." or "You said you hate hot weather. Arizona is hot. I'm from Arizona. You hate me." or "You're talking about your friend getting promoted. He makes more money now. I don't make a lot of money so you think my job is stupid." $\endgroup$ May 20, 2014 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Persecution complex! Great. $\endgroup$
    – Mou某
    May 23, 2014 at 15:46

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