What is Schizoid Personality Disorder?
Schizoid Personality Disorder (also known as SPD) is characterized by a long-term pattern of detachment from social relationships. The person with Schizoid Personality Disorder often has problems expressing emotions, and may do so in a very restricted manner - especially when communicating with other people. Someone with Schizoid Personality Disorder may lead a very solitary life, behaving secretively, while creating and living within an internal fantasy world.
A person with Schizoid Personality Disorder may appear to lack any desire for intimacy or close personal relationships, preferring to be alone rather than spend time with others, which may earn them the nickname "loner." These people rarely date or marry, choosing to have few - if any - friendships. A person with SPD may drift through life, no goals in mind, passively reacting to life events.
It is particularly challenging for someone with Schizoid Personality Disorder to express anger, even when provoked, which contributes to the impression that they lack emotion.
If able to work in a socially isolated environment, a person with SPD can function quite effectively at a job. However, they will flounder in work-related positions that require developed interpersonal skills.
Causes For Schizoid Personality Disorder:
As with many other mental illnesses, researchers do not know what causes Schizoid Personality Disorder. Many different theories exist, but the most widely accepted theory is what’s called a “biopsychosocial model of causation.” This means that no single cause is to blame, rather the cause of Schizoid Personality Disorder is likely due to genetic and biological factors, social factors, and psychological factors.
Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder:
The clinical features of Schizoid Personality Disorder are represented by outward and inward manifestations of the disorder, that often appear to be contradictory. They are important to note, as they identify how central splitting and identity confusion is for those with Schizoid Personality Disorder. These features are broken down by areas of psychosocial functioning.
Outwardly: absent-minded, engrossed in fantasy, stilted and vague speaking patterns, alternations between eloquence and inarticulateness.
Inwardly: autistic thinking, odd use of language, fluctuations between clear contact with external reality and extreme self-reflection.
Outwardly: appears aloof, withdrawn, afraid of intimacy, impervious to emotions of others, few close friends.
Inwardly: extremely sensitive, very curious about other people, hungry for love, envious of the spontaneity exhibited by others, intensely needy about involvement with others, capable of excitement with few selected people.
Outwardly: prefer solitary work and recreational activities, marginally or eclectically sociable in groups, strong need to belong, often lazy and indolent.
Inwardly: lack clarity of goals, weak ethnic affiliation, often capable of steady work, very creative people that may make original and unique contributions, capable of passionate endurance in certain circles.
Outwardly: appears compliant, stoic, non-competitive, self-sufficient, lacking in assertiveness, feeling inferior, like an outsider to life.
Inwardly: cynical, inauthentic, depersonalized, hidden grandiosity, alternates between feeling empty and full of omnipotent, vengeful fantasies.
Love and Sexuality:
Outwardly: largely asexual, sometimes celibate, free of romantic interest and averse to sexual innuendo and gossip.
Inwardly: tendency toward compulsive perversions, secret voyeuristic interests, vulnerability to erotomania.
Ethics, Standards and Ideals:
Outwardly: tendency toward mystical, spiritual, and para-psychological interests; idiosyncratic moral and political beliefs.
Inwardly: Moral unevenness: occasionally strikingly amoral and vulnerable to odd crimes, while at other times, altruistically self-sacrificing.
Diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition (DSM-IV), a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines schizoid personality disorder (in Axis II Cluster A) as:
1) A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood (age eighteen or older) and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
- Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
- Almost always chooses solitary activities
- Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person
- Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities
- Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
- Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
- Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affect
2) Does not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia, a mood disorder with psychotic features, another psychotic disorder, or a pervasive developmental disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition.
It is a requirement of DSM-IV that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria as well.
How is Schizoid Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of a personality disorder is often performed not by a general practitioner or family doctor, but a trained mental health professional. There are no blood tests, laboratory studies, or genetic tests that will provide a diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder.
Many people with personality disorders do not seek treatment until the disorder begins to significantly impact their life – often when a person is overly stressed or dealing with major life events.
A diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder is made by a psychologist or psychiatrist after carefully comparing a detailed life history with the symptoms and diagnostic criteria for the disorder.
Treatment of Schizoid Personality Disorder:
While there are many proposed treatment modules for Schizoid Personality Disorder, not one is likely to be easily effective. Also, individuals with Schizoid Personality Disorder are not likely to seek treatment on their own. As with all personality disorders, the treatment of choice is individual psychotherapy.
Treatment will likely be for the short-term to solve the pressing issue or crisis before the therapy is terminated. Goals of therapy are usually solution-based. It's unlikely that a person with Schizoid Personality Disorder will ever develop rapport with a therapist.
Medication, as with all personality disorders, is not appropriate for a diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder, unless they have a comorbid diagnosis of another disorder.
Additional Resources for Schizoid Personality Disorder:
Out of the Fog - information and support for those with a loved one suffering a personality disorder.
My Cleveland Clinic - straight-up information about Schizoid Personality Disorder, including symptoms, a brief description and causes.
Nurses.Info - Mental health information about Schizoid Personality Disorder, including questions and answers, FAQ and other information about SPD.