Schizotypal 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.


Schizotypal personality disorder has many similarities to schizoid personality disorder, but individuals with this disorder are more odd and eccentric. They have many difficulties in social situations. They are often very suspicious of the motives of others and tend to be somewhat paranoid. This continues even after they get to know someone.

Individuals with this disorder feel very uncomfortable and anxious in social situations. They usually feel they are different, and don’t fit in. They lack social skills, often fail to pick up on social cues, and frequently come across as “stiff” in their interactions. They have a difficult time expressing emotion, and when they do it may be very inappropriate.

Their mannerisms are often odd, as are the ways they think and talk. For example, their responses may be quite vague or very concrete. They frequently use words in an odd way. They often wear clothes which don’t fit well, are unkempt, and don’t go together. All of these contribute to their difficulty fitting in with others.

They rarely have close friends or any kind of intimate relationships. They may indicate that this bothers them, yet they don’t show much interest in developing close relationships. If they are close to someone, it is usually a close relative.

Schizotypal individuals are often very superstitious. It is not unusual for them to believe they have some type of magical power, such as being clairvoyant, telepathic, or having a sixth sense. They often have ideas of reference, which means they believe random or casual events, such as a sign they see on a billboard, has special meaning or significance for them. They may have brief psychotic episodes, but these don’t last for more than a few hours and may occur for just a few minutes.

Other issues

A few people with this disorder eventually develop schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder.

It is rare for someone with this disorder to seek treatment for the disorder itself. However, they may seek professional help for the anxiety or depression which is often associated with this disorder.

written by Dr. Cheryl Lane, PsyD