"...I was born, grew up, spent a few years in the army, a few more in the can and here I am, a half o' wise guy."
Peter Paul Gualtieri, arguably the most meticulously coiffed and manicured capo in the Soprano crew, was something of a child prodigy. He first displayed the skills he'd utilize in his chosen profession at the tender age of nine: while other kids were dreaming of wielding a bat like the Mick, Paulie was deploying one on a schoolmate's skull. In and out of juvenile correctional facilities for the next several years, Paulie eventually dropped out of school altogether; at seventeen, he became an enforcer for Johnny Boy Soprano. Thereafter his movement up the ranks was steady, albeit punctuated by the occasional prison stretch and an army hitch abbreviated by a Section 8.
Is Paulie mentally unstable? He's highly superstitious and has a violent - at times literally murderous - temper, as well as a distrust of others that borders on the paranoid. But those qualities don't particularly distinguish him from his associates. He's openly admitted to seeking professional counseling, although he disapproves of Tony's therapy. That Tony's shrink is a woman "don't compute" for Paulie, whose "issues" with the opposite sex are common knowledge. Though he's had his fair share of goomars, the only Mrs. Gualtieri has been Nucci, Paulie's mother - on whom he dotes with the reverence of a true son of Italy.
Paulie's philosophy of life is simple: as long as everybody who's supposed to kick points to him does, so that he can in turn kick his points to Tony, all's right with the world. But recent decisions by Tony - that resulted in a considerable drop in Paulie's earnings - have made Paulie less sanguine about the way of the world. He went so far as to tell his sorrows to Johnny Sack and even paid a visit to Carmine Lupertazzi, considering a switch his allegiance to the New York organization. But when the old don didn't know who he was, a chagrined Paulie quickly hightailed it back to Tony, rekindling their relationship with an envelope full of cash.
Paulie's general disillusionment became even more profound when he learned that Nucci, the woman he believed was his mother, was actually his aunt, and that his real mother was his dying Aunt Dotty, a nun. With his world upside down, he also learned that he has early-stage prostate cancer.