synonym for "paranoid" - as in 'people colluding against me'?

In the thesaurus at, the synonyms for “paranoid” all relate to insanity, lunacy, mental health, crazy, nutty, even schizophrenia, etc.

I’m wondering what would be another way of saying “paranoid” in this sense that one feels that people are always “out to get them”? Not mentally ill, just in business and every day life, when one has a neurotic focus on believing people are always consipiring to take advantage of them, or rip them off?

Is there a word or phrase for this?

Thank you.

I think the phrase which fits what you are describing perfectly is ‘persecution complex’. Someone with a persecution complex will be convinced that something, someone, or possibly everything and everyone is out to get them.
Examples could include:
being convinced the weather is being manipulated in order to inconvenience them,
thinking a newsreader is speaking directly to them,
considering every stranger who glances their way to be trying to trap them.

“He has a persecution complex” - he has the perception of being persecuted for various possible reasons, imagined or real.

That’s a good one, very close, yes. Of course I’m thinking of a particular person and pattern of behaviors, and I think “persecution” seems too strong though.
Im not sure if this person feels persecution universally at all times, but in certain unfamiliar situations - like having no business experience, and undertaking a serious business transaction, working with others who know more.


The situations you seem to be describing in your second post appear to relate more to that individual’s lack of confidence and self-belief than paranoia.
Does s/he have low self-esteem (think that others are always better and think that they can do better)?

Yeah you’re probably right. But no, she doesn’t have self-esteem problems. She’s more of a know-it-all control freak. She is intelligent, but thinks she always knows more than anybody else, even when she is way out of her league. I could go on endlessly and sling the mud, but it’s probably not appropriate here.