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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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My 16 year old son has a phobia or paranoia not sure which.

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My 16 year old son has a phobia or paranoia not sure which. When he passes somebody outside he appears to think that he has harmed them. He knows that he doesn't harm them but his thoughts convince him that he has.Most recently he was out jogging yesterday and when he returned he was extremely anxious and angry because he thought he had harmed people when passing them. He also thinks that he speaks to people in a disrepectful, offensive and derogitory manner. This is affecting him socially as he is convinced that he is going to do or say something. He also thinks he has damaged cars after walking through a car park. He does not have any history of violence or damaging property.He does not take drugs or alcohol as he fears that this would escalate his situation.
He has no problem eating or sleeping, He generally behaves normally like any other sixteen year old.
This has been happening periodically since October last year. We were hoping that it was due to stress and pressure in relation to his Higher prelums and Higher exams which he has completed recently, last one being today.
Can you please give us a clue or at least direction to address this as we are concerned about the affect this will have on him over the next few months. We have visited our GP a few weeks ago. Any Psychological/Theropy intervention will take months before he can attend apparantly.
Brian Inglis.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 6 years ago.

First of all, one cannot diagnose at a distance - to do so would be unhelpful, as there are a number of conditions which could be involved, and a mistake could easily be made.

While he is waiting for a psychiatric evaluation, I suspect that he would benefit from some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also causes the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful.

The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

If you cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:

Also, there is a book called ”Feeling good - the new mood therapy” by Dr. David Burns. It has a hand book which gives you practical exercises to work through and further instructions on how to better use CBT. I really do recommend it.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Dummies By Rhena Branch, Rob Willson is also pretty good.

If however, you think that he is in any way at risk, you can go direct to your nearest Accident and Emergency Unit and ask to be seen by the Duty Psychiatrist - that option is always there if you are seriously worried.

Best wishes, NorrieM

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