A little background:

I wanted to button up my sleeve, so naturally I moved both of my arms up to my chest level and that is when my friend thought I wanted to hit him so he took a defensive reflex.

The thing is this scenario happened multiple times when he would just take a defensive reflex in such situations.

I said "stop being paranoid", But a friend of me argued that paranoia is not the word to describe this situation. I kind of agree, paranoia is an overstatement. But what other alternatives do I have ?

  • 'Defensive' works. Welcome to EL&U. – Nigel J Mar 11 '18 at 13:41
  • Have you tried to hit him when he does this? Is his goal to defend, or to counter attack? – jxh May 10 '18 at 23:29

If you’re looking for a replacement for paranoid in “Stop being so paranoid”, consider jumpy. It retains the suggestion of a reflex action and self-preservation, but stops short of outright paranoia.

jumpy adjective, informal 1 (of a person) anxious and uneasy. ‘he was tired and jumpy’ - ODO

  • My thought, too. Also, "reactionary" could work if it were something more than a momentary movement. – Chuckk Hubbard Apr 10 '18 at 23:45

withdrawal reaction TFD

withdrawal reaction Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. a type of defense reflex Retraction or tension in response to an action or threatened action.

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