What is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Schizotypal Personality Disorder is a personality disorder marked by disturbances in thought, appearance and behavior. While Schizotypal Personality Disorder does fall on the “schizophrenic spectrum” along with Schizophrenia and Schizoid Personality Disorder, there are some key differences. Unlike the delusions of Schizophrenia, people with Schizotypal know the difference between their delusions and what is real. Schizotypal is also a Personality Disorder, whereas Schizophrenia is a psychotic disorder. Schizoid personality disorder doesn’t have the disturbances in thought, paranoia or illusions that Schizotypal Personality Disorder does. However, all three do share a detachment in social relationships and trouble expressing emotions.
Causes for Schizotypal Personality Disorder:
There is no one specific cause of Schizotypal Personality Disorder. It can be caused by genetics, biological factors, social factors, psychological factors, or any combination of these. There is, however, evidence that Schizotypal can be common in those who have an immediate family member who are Schizophrenic, but this is not the only cause.
Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder:
Ideas of Reference or the belief that casual events or remarks made by others, etc are in reference to oneself, when they are not. External events are believed to have personal meaning, even when they are in no way related to the individual.
Magical Thinking or Odd Beliefs can make themselves known in the form of belief in special powers,magical influence over others, and other beliefs that can’t be based on logic. Another form is imaginary friends well beyond the childhood phase. Most magical thinking is considered to be a coping mechanism. The “Friends”, for example, being a way to cope with feeling alone or abandoned. The key is, while these beliefs are indeed unusual, they are not delusions. The person with these beliefs are generally very aware they are not real. Not that, that means they can simply stop them.
Unusual Perceptual Experiences, including but not limited to bodily illusions.
Very few to no close friends outside of immediate family. Those with Schizotypal are very socially awkward. As a result, it is hard for them to form a close social bond outside of those they are related to. They suffer from a lack of being able to communicate effectively with others. And unlike people who choose to be loners, this lack of closeness and social inability is very painful. They don’t choose to have few close relationships, they suffer from it.
Odd patterns in thought and speech. This includes rambling on tangents in conversation, but can also lead too odd appearances or behavior. People with this disorder are known to act, dress, speak, and think in a manner that is/are considered socially awkward or unacceptable.
Excessive social anxiety that is usually fueled by paranoid fears and not their view of themselves. This is more “Others are out to get me.” and not, “Nobody likes me.” based.
Paranoia and suspiciness of others, usually fueled by the odd thought patterns, magical thinking, and social anxiety.
Inappropriate emotional response or tone. This can be anything from flat or no emotions, to emotions that are socially inappropriate for the given situation.
In children, and teenagers, schizotypal can show early signs by way of a gravitations towards solo activity, verses interaction with others and they may already be showing signs of a high level of social anxiety. These early signs often making them the victims of bullying among their peers and even adults who don’t understand.
Diagnosis of Schizotypal Personality Disorder:
For a diagnosis of Schizotypal, at least 5 of the following criteria from the DSM-IV must be met.
- Ideas of reference
- Magical thinking or odd beliefs
- Unusual perceptual experiences
- No close friends or confidants, other than immediate relatives
- Odd speech and thinking
- Paranoia or suspiciousness
- Inappropriate affect or emotional reactions and/or tone
- Odd behavior or appearance
- Excessive social anxiety
How is Schizotypal Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
If symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder are displayed a doctor will take a complete medical history and give an exam to rule out any other medical causes. If it isn’t found to be a physical issue, the doctor can then refer the patient to a mental health professional.
The mental health professional will then compare the patients symptoms to the diagnostic criteria, also keeping in mind observations made, and a detailed family and personal medical history.
Only a trained psychologist or psychiatrist can give this diagnosis, not a general medical doctor.
Treatment of Schizotypal Personality Disorder:
Pscychotherapy and some medication can aid in treating Schizotypal Personality Disorder, but there is no cure for it. In time symptoms may lesson, aided on by positive relationships with friends and family, as well as positive experiences in life such as work and school as well as other hobbies and interests.
Few people with schizotypal seek treatment on their own and are instead usually forced into it by friends and family.
It is also believed that early intervention in forms of therapy and youth activities can help prevent it in children who are at-risk or showing early signs.
But of the individuals who do have Schizotypal Personality Disorder, 10-20% go on to develop Schizophrenia.
Complications that arise from Schizotypal Personality Disorder:
- Poor social support networks due to isolation
- Difficulty in keeping jobs especially when required to be social
- Difficulties with marriage and relationship
Additional Resources for Schizotypal Personality Disorder:
Schizotypaldisorder.webs.com offers information, forums, a simple test, and other resources for Schizotypal.
Psycheforums.com offer a forum board for those with Schizotypal Personality Disorder
PsychCentral is the Internet’s largest and oldest independent mental health and psychology network. It is run by mental health professionals offering reliable, trusted information and over 160 support groups to visitors.
Out of the Fog offers support for many personality disorders including Schizotypal Personality Disorder.
Nurses.Info offers a good selection of information and Schizotyal Personality Disorder.