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PURPOSE: Parenting behaviours-including the extent to which parents are protective, hostile, or caring-likely impacts whether a child develops a sense of vulnerability that carries forward into adulthood. Ideas of vulnerability are a contributory factor to the occurrence of paranoia. Our aim was to assess whether there is an association between specific parenting behaviours and paranoia. METHOD: We examined cross-sectional associations of parenting and paranoia in an epidemiologically representative cohort of 10,148 adolescents (National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescents; NCS-A) and a second dataset of 1286 adults in Oxfordshire. Further, a network analysis was conducted with paranoia, parenting behaviours, and cognitive-affective variables (compassion, self-esteem, anxiety, and depression). Overprotectiveness, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and amount of care were assessed in mothers and fathers separately. RESULTS: Nearly all parenting variables were significantly associated with paranoia, with parental verbal and physical abuse showing the largest associations. For example, the odds of reporting paranoia was over four times higher for those in the adult sample reporting a lot of paternal verbal abuse, compared to those reporting none (OR = 4.12, p < 0.001, CI 2.47-6.85). Network analyses revealed high interconnectivity between paranoia, parenting behaviours, and cognitive-affective variables. Of the parenting variables, paranoia most strongly interacted with paternal abuse and maternal lack of care. CONCLUSION: There are associations between participants' self-reported experiences of parental behaviours and paranoia. Despite being associated with paranoia, cognitive-affective variables did not appear to mediate the relationship between parenting and paranoia, which is surprising. What might explain the link therefore remains to be determined.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol

Publication Date



Delusions, Paranoia, Parental abuse, Parental care, Parental over-protectiveness