I hope you'll forgive me for doing a little thinking about a fairly uncomfortable subject, but today I came home to find my neighbor had taken everything laying out in the kitchen - including 6 pears I had bought the day before, two eggs, and a tin of sardine-like fish - and put it all in one bowl. He called it his "food," and I rather angrily explained to him that it was neither "his" nor, at this point, "food". He was, at the very moment I came home, taking apart a computer owned by the guest house, and when I mentioned I was worried he might try to wash the computer in water, he said "how else am I supposed to get it clean?" I can sort of laugh about it now (sort of), but I was definitely freaked out at the time.
The experience has made me think, though, just as it made me think when I lived with a paranoid for a little while in San Francisco. That guy was a little scarier, although neither of them has been particularly dangerous (edit - heard from the manager that when the manager tried to enter his room he threatened him with a wine bottle). But they shared some things in common, and so the same thoughts have come up.
The reason this guy is, and the other guy was, scary to me is that they are relatively sure of themselves and what they are doing. You can yell at them until you are blue in the face that they doing crazy things, but they will come up with some very absurd but completely calm response.
That is the big thing - while I sometimes feel I'm a bit crazy, the fact is I doubt myself, whereas they do not. There have been times when they explained something to me, I began to doubt myself, so sure were they of their reasoning. Of course after I thought about it for one second I realized what they were saying was ridiculous. But somehow, their inner world somehow works for them, and it is everybody else that doesn't "get it."
When I think of it this way, I wonder how far I am from them. As a literature student, I spent a lot of my time working my way through stories and constantly coming up with theories to unify the story or to compare it with another story. I'm fairly good at it, though I often wonder if people will think the theories I end up with are absolutely absurd. Other times I've thought maybe someone was talking about me behind my back, or that a friend had done something to hurt me. Usually I find out the truth, sometimes it festers for a while. But I think the difference is I usually doubt my conclusions, whereas this guy speaks in very certain terms that things are a certain way, even if it seems absolutely absurd to everyone else.