Schizoid Personality Disorder

What is a personality disorder?

A personality disorder is a type of psychiatric illness which is deeply ingrained and generally continues throughout one’s life. It involves rigid and maladaptive ways of coping, and affects how the person thinks, feels, and behaves. The disorder either causes distress for the person with the disorder or for others who must interact with him/her. In many cases the disorder negatively impacts both parties.

In most cases, the personality disorder is well-established by the time the person is in his/her late teens or early twenties. Personality disorders begin to develop early in childhood, often as a way of coping with trauma, abuse, confusion, or a psychologically unhealthy environment.

Often, the person is unaware s/he has a personality disorder, as it is a normal way of life for him/her. The very nature of some types of personality disorders is to blame others as the cause of any problems the person experiences, even though they are a direct result of the disorder. As a result, it is very challenging to effectively treat someone with a personality disorder.

Characteristics of schizoid personality disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Individuals with this disorder do not desire to develop or be in close, intimate relationships. They usually do not date or marry, and have few, if any, friendships. They’re rarely, if ever, interested in sexual relationships. They typically prefer solitary activities but very few things actually give them pleasure. If they are close to anyone, it is usually a family member.

They tend to show very little emotion, and may come across as cold and detached. If someone criticizes them or praises them, they are often indifferent. They often lack any real direction for their lives, and tend to be very passive, even in response to adverse events. Their social skills are limited, and they have a difficult time expressing anger, even if provoked.

They will usually struggle in a job which requires a lot of social interaction, but can function quite well in a job which allows them to work in isolation. They may experience brief periods of psychosis. These episodes may last for several hours, or just a few minutes.

Other factors

Individuals with schizoid personality disorder rarely seek treatment. It can be difficult distinguishing someone with this disorder from a person with autistic disorder or Asperger’s disorder. However, Asperger’s and autism cause even greater social impairment and involve behaviors and interests which are often considered very odd and often involve intense preoccupation. Sometimes schizoid personality disorder is the precursor to schizophrenia or delusional disorder.

written by Dr. Cheryl Lane, PsyD