I'm trying to think of a word that accurately captures the idea of paranoia/over-cautiousness in a positive way.

For example, after the cloudbleed incident recently, a very small number of accounts were potentially compromised. The chance that yours was compromised was slim to none. But I wouldn't describe changing your passwords in response to that incident 'paranoid'.

I originally thought the word 'pronoia' fit this description, but it doesn't seem to mean what I thought it did.

  • What about *extreme caution *? Vigilance? – vickyace Mar 3 '17 at 0:51
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    There no such thing as healthy paranoia. Paranoia is a mental disease in which the afflicted determine that all events concern themselves. This often takes the form of thinking that everyone, including those in large and largely indifferent organizations, are all working against the sufferers' interests. Someone who takes protective steps that are likely unnecessary may be overly cautious, but he's not paranoid. A paranoiac takes steps that are absurdly unnecessary, like protecting himself from spying by the US Council of Economic Advisers. – deadrat Mar 3 '17 at 2:37
  • @deadrat what you say is true only if there is indeed no conspiracy, if the council of economic advisers is proven to have been spying on someone then you can not call him a paranoiac and the steps he takes to protect himself as unnecessary. Point being it is not fare to say all paranoia is unhealthy. Perhaps your comment is true for clinical Paranoia as a mental illness but i suspect that is not the point of this question. Skepticism may be the correct term but that may be another can of worms. – Alaska Man Mar 3 '17 at 6:32
  • @Alaskaman Paranoia is a false way of ordering the universe, and by definition we call that unhealthy. Perhaps unbalanced is a better word. In the natural course of things, everyone encounters enemies, and a classic paranoiac will be right about those enemies because he'll regard everyone and everything as working against him. Stopped clock and all that. Being right sometimes doesn't make a paranoiac healthy. – deadrat Mar 3 '17 at 6:43

"precaution" and "prudence" come to mind. They both respresent a posture akin to what you define as healthy paranoia".

  • precaution "an action taken in advance to protect against possible danger, failure, or injury; a safeguard"

  • prudence "caution or circumspection as to danger or risk"

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