The Death Spiral of Paranoia

Photo by Guilherme Rossi on

Hey folks, I found this random article on ABC News recently on a mom’s obsession with QAnon and how it gradually consumed her life. This article was really interesting to me because it shows how the slow progression of an idea can become all-consuming to the point that it consumes a person, cutting them off from reality, to their detriment.

This kind of death-spiral isn’t limited to stupid conspiracy theories either. It can be all kinds of things, both fun and terrifying that can occupy your mind so much that they increasingly cut you off from reality into your own little world.

In fact, the entire notion of the venerable Yogacara tradition of Buddhism was that (paraphrasing here) every one of us lives in their own perceptual “bubble” and that our thoughts, actions and choices further color this perception more and more in a kind of feedback loop. The English translation of Reverend Shun’ei Tagawa’s book, Living Yogacara, is an excellent primer on the subject and worth a good read. I need to bring back some of my old posts on Yogacara Buddhism as it is a fascinating tradition.

In any case, as Yogacara Buddhism teaches this constant, mental cycle is a kind of feedback loop whereby your thoughts, actions and choices color your future perceptions, which in turn lead to further thoughts, actions and choices, etc. Thus, a mountain climber and a painter will look at the same mountain differently because of how they color reality based on their ongoing mental “loop”. The upshot though means that if you don’t stop to evaluate your mind from time to time, you can really go off the rails, even when what you’re thinking and doing seems totally reasonable to you.

Thus, from the Buddhist standpoint, it’s OK and healthy to stop from time to time and ask yourself: what am I thinking about now? How do I feel now? Why do I feel this way? and so on.

Even doing that for a few moments can save you countless hours (or more) of pain, anguish and misery that you didn’t have to undergo.

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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