Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is a mental health disorder effecting someone’s experience of emotions and connection to others. While this person usually functions in everyday life, they don’t tend to participate in society, which impacts their experience of life.

Treatment is possible, but someone with the disorder usually doesn’t realize there’s something wrong with them. This can make it difficult for a sufferer to seek help. If you’re friends with someone who has the disorder, the social disconnection can also make it difficult to support them.

What is Schizoid Personality Disorder

There are several kinds of personality disorders. They can occur at different times in life, and some have a more severe impact on mental health than others.

“Personality” refers to the way we, as individuals, understand and relate to the world, how we see ourselves in it, and to our behavior patterns. Personality is the unique thoughts, emotions, and actions that contribute to how we identify ourselves and how others view us.

A personality disorder is when those inner experiences and behavioral patterns differ in a marked way from the expectations of our culture. Schizoid personality disorder is a maladaptive and deeply ingrained pattern of behavior that causes long-term difficulty in building social relationships with others and participating in society.

Often when we think of a personality disorder, extreme emotions and strange habits and behaviors come to mind. The big difference between schizoid personalities and some other mental health disorders is the lack of emotions or emotional expression. This also means generally someone with this disorder won’t even be aware there’s anything wrong with them.

Schizoid Definition

A schizoid personality type is characterized by solitary habits and an emotional coldness or distance. The person remains in touch with reality, unlike some other mental illnesses. The disorder usually manifests in late adolescence or early adulthood.

An individual with schizoid personality disorder will be limited in the emotions they experience and express. Generally, the person will avoid social activities and interaction with others. They can function in ordinary life but will struggle to develop meaningful, personal relationships.

There is some evidence that this can indicate the start of schizophrenia, but it is a mental disorder in itself and doesn’t necessarily develop into schizophrenia.

Schizoid Personality

One challenge is that people with schizoid personality disorder often don’t feel there is anything wrong with them.

If you have the disorder, you might be viewed by others as dismissive or as a loner, and you might lack the skills or desire to form close bonds. It’s quite likely you won’t even realize your behavior in social contexts is different from most people’s because you’ll lack the interest or awareness.

This apparent emotional coldness may make it appear that you don’t care about other people or about what’s happening around you. You might form attachments to animals more than people, daydream often, and enjoy the kinds of solitary activities or isolated jobs many other people avoid.

Schizoid vs Schizotypal

Schizoid personality disorder is not to be confused with schizotypal personality disorder. Despite the similar names, they’re quite different.

A schizotypal personality disorder is a mental disorder characterized by social anxiety, paranoia, thought disorder, transient psychosis, and often quite unconventional beliefs. They may also have strange speech patterns and mannerisms and be unable to hold a normal conversation.

While a person with schizotypal personality disorder will also struggle to have close relationships and have trouble in social situations, like someone with schizoid disorder, this is often to do with their strange beliefs and anxieties.

Someone with schizoid personality disorder remains in touch with reality, so isn’t as likely to experience paranoia or hallucinations, and they’ll make sense when they speak.

Other Personality Disorders

There are a range of other personality and mental disorders effecting mental health which can differ greatly from someone with schizoid personality disorder (or even schizotypal personality).

The below list of mental illness and mental disorders all have symptoms related to difficulty forming meaningful connections and social interactions, but they have some crucial symptoms that aren’t shared by someone with a schizoid personality.

  • Avoidant personality disorder – severe social anxiety and inhibition, along with feelings over inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to negative emotions
  • Borderline personality disorder – a pattern of unstable or reckless behavior, and difficulty controlling emotions and thoughts
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder – obsessive and uncontrollable thoughts and the deliberate repetition of actions that make little sense to others
  • Bipolar disorder – manic phases with extreme emotions
  • Paranoid personality disorder – paranoia, mistrust of others, and ongoing suspicion
  • Histrionic personality disorder – excessive emotions, and often seek attention
  • Asperger’s syndrome – social difficulties and restricted interests and repetitive behaviors
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder – linked to a specific event, with a broad range of symptoms depending on the individual that can lead to social difficulty
  • Narcissistic personality disorder – an inflated sense of importance, troubled relationships with others, and a need for attention
  • Passive-aggressive personality disorder – tendency to procrastinate, obstruct others, and be extremely stubborn
  • Schizophrenia – delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and difficulty thinking clearly
  • Schizophreniform disorder – symptoms of schizophrenia, but the signs of disruption don’t present frequently enough for a diagnosis of schizophrenia

There are other mental health disorders that share similar symptoms, including psychotic disorder and anxiety disorders.

Schizoid Personality Disorder Symptoms

There are several symptoms noted by the American Psychiatric Association and other mental health organizations. Most symptoms show themselves in the way a person responds to events and circumstances – particularly where social interaction is involved. Generally symptoms show by early adulthood, but can sometimes present earlier.

Flat Affect

This refers to the physical expression of emotions (or affect). Their face won’t express emotion, even when it is felt, and can make the person seem as though they care about nothing and no one.

Doesn’t Desire Close Relationships

Someone with a schizoid personality will have a detachment from personal and close relationships, often including family. They simply aren’t interested in forming social relationships and gain no enjoyment from them. They struggle to relate to others and may display avoidant behavior when it comes to social situations.

Detachment and Flat Moods

They seem aloof and disconnected to things taking place around them, including people. They won’t react to situations in expected ways, if they react at all.  There seems to be little difference in their mood from one day to the next.

Lack of Pleasure and Desire

Often it will seem that very little brings a schizoid person pleasure, and often they won’t seek it out. This can include a lack of interest in sexual relationships.

Prefer to be Alone

Everyone needs some time alone, but schizoid personalities take this to an extreme. They will avoid social activities that will involve a lot of contact or interaction with other people. They’ll often choose activities (and jobs) that are more solitary. Sometimes people can misinterpret this as a narcissistic personality or distaste for people.

Indifferent to Praise

Praise, or criticism for that matter, will have little impact on someone with schizoid personality disorder. They won’t respond the way most people do when they’re congratulated or publicly told off in a meeting at work for a sub-standard piece of work. This is due to their disconnection from their emotions.

Schizoid Personality Disorder Treatment

Often someone with schizoid personality disorder will only find out when they seek treatment for a related mental health problem, like depression – or if someone else steps in.

If someone who knows you well has encouraged you to seek help for some of the above symptoms, it may be timely to make an appointment with a doctor or mental health professional to see if you could benefit from treatment. Even if you don’t have this personality disorder, there are likely to be other mental health issues that a healthcare professional can help you with.

And if you know someone who you think may have the disorder, make a gentle suggestion that the seek help. You can be supportive by offering to go to the first appointment, but make sure you don’t push too hard.

Researchers don’t know what causes schizoid personality disorder, but it’s likely a combination of factors. Most health professionals view it biopsychological – as being caused by a combination of biological factors, social circumstances early in life, and personality.  

Medication can be useful treatment for some specific symptoms. For example, if anxiety and depression is experienced medical treatment can help. However, this isn’t often the case with schizoid personality disorder.

Psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy are often good for schizoid personality disorder treatment. However, complications can arise because it involves interaction with another person. In saying this, the professional context can make it easier to interact on a one-on-one basis.

Support groups can also be a useful kind of treatment because they introduce conversation in a different way. As other people will be experiencing the same symptoms, it can be easier to manage the social context and slowly look at developing relationships.

Personal Relationships Can Benefit Your Life

If you or someone you know is diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, the first thing to do is talk to a health care professional. Finding out more about the disorder can help you find out more about yourself.

Everyone deserves to enjoy their life! Forming personal relationships is beneficial to anyone’s personal life and can add pleasure daily and help to realize goals.

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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