Schizoid personality disorder

Medical quality assurance by Dr. Albrecht Nonnenmacher, MD at March 31, 2016
StartDiseasesSchizoid personality disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is a type of personality disorder. A person with a personality disorder thinks and acts differently from what others consider to be normal or usual behavior, and personality disorders cause the person to experience a high amount of distress that often impedes many areas of his or her life. Because people who have schizoid personality disorder usually are not aware of the fact that they have a personality disorder, they unfortunately do not seek help.

Contents

Definition & Facts

People with schizoid personality disorder tend to shy away from social relationships and rarely express strong emotions. They tend to prefer solitary activities, are seen as loners by others, and lack the ability or desire to form personal relationships. They may appear dull, sullen, and unfriendly while feeling lonely.

Loneliness is difficult for people with schizoid personality disorder to acknowledge. Most people with schizoid personality disorder have the ability to function rather well as long as their job choices are ones where they can work alone.

Symptoms & Complaints

People with schizoid personality disorder organize their lives in ways to avoid contact with others. They may choose not to marry or choose to live with their parents as adults. The following are common traits associated with this personality disorder:

  • Absence of close relationships even with family
  • Confusion and inability to respond to social cues
  • Lack of enjoyment of activities including sex
  • Selection of solitary jobs and activities
  • Indifference to criticism or praise
  • Few close friendships
  • Difficulty relating to others
  • Detachment and showing little emotion
  • Frequent daydreaming
  • Lack of motivation and underachievement

Although the symptoms of this personality disorder may be noticeable during childhood, they usually don’t begin until early adulthood. This personality disorder may interfere with the ability to function well socially or in a job. People with this disorder do not know how to be around other people without feeling anxiety, and they may be unable to form friendships.

Causes

There is little knowledge of exactly what causes schizoid personality disorder; however, both environmental factors and genetic factors may play a role. Some mental health specialists believe that a childhood without emotion and warmth contributes to the development of this disorder. Risk factors include:

  • Family history of schizoid personality disorder
  • Having been thin-skinned or hypersensitive during early teenage years
  • History of having one's feelings ignored or being treated with ridicule and/or displeasure
  • Growing up in an environment in which parents were unresponsive and indifferent to one's emotional needs.
  • Having suffered mistreatment, neglect or abuse when a child.

Diagnosis & Tests

A consultation with the primary care doctor would be the first step in a diagnosis. A diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder involves an interview with the patient to gain information about symptoms as well as personal and medical history. A physical examination by a doctor would also be done in order to rule out conditions that could be adding to symptoms.

If there is no physical reason for symptoms, the doctor will likely refer the patient to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or psychologist for an additional evaluation. The American Psychiatric Association’s publication, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists the characteristics of schizoid personality disorder. Having four or more of the following characteristics would indicate schizoid personality disorder:

  • Lack of desire for close relationships including family relationships
  • Lack of desire for sexual experiences with another person
  • Preference for activities that can be done alone
  • Inability to express emotion towards others
  • Lack of expressiveness and appearing cold and emotionally detached
  • Apathy towards criticism or praise
  • Inability to enjoy most activities

Treatment & Therapy

Many people with schizoid personality disorder are not aware of having this disorder and, therefore, do not suffer from any distress. This results in these individuals not seeking treatment. Some people with this personality disorder may simply prefer to continue to live their lives by avoiding interacting with others and emotional relationships. Those who do seek help will find that treatment could include:

Prevention & Prophylaxis

Because its causes aren't fully understood, it's not known how to prevent schizoid personality personality. However, it is unlikely to develop if an individual doesn't have a family history of the disorder, if his or her needs were met with love and compassion in the early teenage years, and if he or she was never neglected or abused as a child.