London, Apr 2 : If you believe that fear of persecution is something that rests only in you, think again, for a new study has found that more than a third of Brits are paranoid.
The condition doesn't just affect the severely mentally ill as experts once thought.
According to a new study, there could be up to 20 million people feeling threatened or persecuted.
The conclusions of the research were arrived at after sending 200 volunteers on a computer-generated four-minute trip in a London Tube carriage.
The researchers studied reactions to "virtual" passengers - who breathed, looked around and even met their gaze - as Tube noises played in the background.
One paranoid passenger said a "dodgy" computer character looked as if he might turn aggressive or "plant a bomb".
A second was scared she might be sexually molested, while a third feared a virtual passenger who kept moving a hand was a pickpocket.
A fourth was "spooked" by another virtual passenger.
She said later: "I'm sure he looked at me more than a couple of times though I might be imagining it."
Almost 40 per cent of the volunteers, who all wore virtual reality headsets, had one or more paranoid thoughts.
Those rated worried, pessimistic or lacking in self-esteem before the Tube trip were the most susceptible.
"In the past, only those with a severe mental illness were thought to experience paranoid thoughts, but now we know that this is simply not the case," The Sun quoted Dr Daniel Freeman, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, who led the study, as saying.