Basically, when you are paranoid, you have an irrational fear.
1 : a psychosis characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations 2 : a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others
Way back in my investigator days I was hot on the trail of a burglar and hot check artist. This guy had burgled about a dozen houses and had hot checks scattered all over the business district of the small town I served. Lets call him Johnny (all names are changed to protect the ignorant). I finally got enough evidence together that a District Judge signed an arrest warrant and I spent the morning filing it with the Clerk of Court, and filing copies with my sister agencies and with the Louisiana State Police. I knew that the guy had recently skipped town, but felt like he would show back up in a couple of weeks. He was on probation and his PO had a copy of the warrant, and I knew it was a matter of time before we picked him up. I got back to my office after lunch, and the receptionist told me I had a call on line 1.
I picked up the phone, "Detectives"
"Yes sir", a female voice on the phone. "I am a nurse at ******* Hospital. We treat mental disorders and I wanted you to know that we recently admitted Johnny and we are treating him for paranoia. He thinks that you are out to get him."
I leaned back in my chair. "You need to quit treating him for that."
"Excuse me?" I could hear confusion in her voice.
"Dear Heart," I started to warm to the conversation. "As I understand paranoia, it is an unreasonable fear that someone is out to get you, and Johnny has every reason to fear that. The next time any police officer sees him, or the next time Johnny reports to his Probation Officer, we are going to put him in jail. A Judge signed a warrant for him this morning."
"Oh, my" she said. "Let me check with the Doctor."
I got another phone call about fifteen minutes later. Johnny was being discharged from the hospital at 5:00 that afternoon, and if I was in the parking lot, I could serve the warrant there.
We picked Johnny up without incident. If someone is actually out to get you, you ain't paranoid.