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Background.

Trower and Chadwick argued that there are two types of paranoia: ‘poor me’, in which persecution is seen as undeserved, and ‘bad me’, in which it is perceived to be deserved. These authors outlined a theory which accounts for both types of paranoia and makes predictions regarding their stability.

Aims and objectives.

To examine whether different degrees of persecutory ideation and deservedness are associated with different coping strategies in non-clinical populations.

Methodology.

Six hundred and eight university students from two European countries (UK and Portugal) took part via the Internet, and were assessed in terms of the severity of persecution and deservedness (Persecution and Deservedness Scale), mood (Beck Depression Inventory), and coping strategies (Response Styles to Depression Questionnaire and COPE Questionnaire).

Results.

Deservedness was associated with acceptance and with engaging in dangerous activities.

Conclusions.

‘Poor me’ and ‘bad me’ paranoia may represent separate phases of the same unstable defensive phenomenon. The effectiveness of the existing psychological interventions in prodromal psychosis could be increased by addressing the negative impact of safety behaviours and of substance misuse and by encouraging the practice of more adaptive ways of dealing with everyday problems.