The role of experiential avoidance in paranoid delusions: An experience sampling study

Alisa Udachina*, Filippo Varese, Inez Myin-Germeys, Richard P. Bentall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

Objectives The study examined (1) the role of experiential avoidance (EA), conceptualized as intolerance towards aversive mental states, in paranoid delusions and (2) the mechanisms underlying EA. DesignA 6-day prospective momentary assessment study. MethodsParanoid patients (N=41) were studied using the experience sampling method (ESM), a structured diary technique, assessing psychopathology and current context in daily life. ResultsThe results showed that both low self-esteem and EA contributed to paranoid thinking. The relationship between low self-esteem and paranoia was partially mediated by EA and the relationship between EA and paranoia was partially mediated by low self-esteem. The detrimental effect of EA on self-esteem was more pronounced under high activity-related stress. Both EA and social stress were independently associated with low self-esteem. EA was associated with self-esteem instability. ConclusionsOur results implicate mental control strategies in the development of paranoia and are compatible with the attributional model of paranoia, which suggests that persecutory delusions arise as a result of dysfunctional attempts to avoid unpleasant thoughts about the self.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-432
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Psychology
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Keywords

  • paranoia
  • experiential avoidance
  • experience sampling method
  • persecutory
  • delusions

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