Schizoid personality disorder is one of the cluster A personality disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Schizoid personality disorder can be rare, with studies indicating that less than 1% of the population lives with this condition.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes schizoid personality disorder as a widespread form of detachment from social relations and a limited range of expressing emotions in interpersonal environments starting in early adulthood. This mental illness is often difficult to diagnose, as people who experience it might not show distress. They usually may prefer to be left alone, taking pleasure in fewer activities.
The DSM-5 includes a set of criteria for an official diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder. An individual may be diagnosed with the disorder if four or more criteria are present. The criteria include the following:
- No desire for or enjoyment of close relations, including family relationships
- The continuous and consistent choice of solitary activities
- Little to no interest in sexual activities with another person
- Derivation of little pleasure from activities
- Lack of intimate friendships or relationships except for first-degree relatives, in some cases
- The appearance of indifference to the appreciation or judgment of others
- Detachment, flattened affect, or emotional coldness
Signs And Symptoms Of Schizoid Personality Disorder
There are several symptoms of schizoid personality disorder that can be explored in more significant detail, including the following.
No Desire For Or Enjoyment Of Close Relationships, Including Family Relationships
People with schizoid personality disorder may not crave close relationships, even including with family members. They may be uninterested in starting, building, or maintaining relationships, potentially extending from home to school to the workplace. They might also prefer to partake in activities alone without social interaction.
The Continuous And Consistent Choice Of Solitary Activities
As people with schizoid personality disorder might not enjoy spending time with others, one of the symptoms they may exhibit is the consistent choice to act alone. They may tend to prefer activities that allow them to be alone, including mechanical tasks or abstract activities like puzzles, math games, or video games.
Little To No Interest In Having Sexual Experiences With Others
The lack of interest in social relationships with others may extend to sex. Whatever sexual activity they in which they engage may be self-oriented.
Derivation Of Pleasure From Few Or No Activities
People with schizoid personality disorder may derive pleasure from fewer activities than others and may not have similar interests to those around them. They may have reduced experiences of pleasure from their senses but might gain pleasure from being alone and completing solitary activities.
Lack Of Close Connections Other Than First-Degree Relatives
Since people with schizoid personality disorder often prefer to be left alone and struggle to make friends, they might not have many close relationships and may only be close to those with whom they grew up. Others might also be estranged from their family.
The Appearance Of Indifference To Praise Or Criticism
People with schizoid personality disorder might struggle to pay attention to the social interactions around them. They may be uninterested in what others say about them, including praise or criticism. They may be interested in their grades, for example, but not the teacher's praise or criticism about their grades.
Emotional Coldness, Detachment, Or Flattened Affectivity
People with schizoid personality disorder may show few facial expressions. They are often described as unemotional and may struggle to make expressions when an intense or emotional event occurs. For example, the death of a loved one might be taken with a lack of emotional display or tears. They may not experience strong emotions like anger or joy and feel cold, aloof, or distant.
Other Features Of Schizoid Personality Disorder
A few other features may be associated with this mental illness, including the following.
Difficulty Expressing Anger
People with schizoid personality disorder often find it difficult to display anger, regardless of the provocation. This difficulty may cause others to perceive that they lack emotions.
Difficulty With Focus Or Direction
People with schizoid personality disorder may sometimes appear not to have a clear focus or direction. For many people, there is an urge to be accepted socially, and this urge may drive them to complete tasks. Since people with schizoid personality disorder might not care about social acceptance, and people's opinions might not matter to them. They are often not driven by values or societal morals and may appear directionless and unfocused.
Lack Of Intimate Relationships
People with this mental health condition might avoid sexual or romantic relationships, including marriage. If they try to date someone, they might do so out of pressure. Often, people living with this condition feel content and happy when alone.
People with schizoid personality disorder may thrive in areas of work that do not require social interaction. For example, they might work in software engineering, technology, or writing industries.
Brief Psychotic Episodes
People with this personality disorder might experience hallucinations or delusions that happen transiently when exposed to extreme stress levels. These episodes often don't last long enough for a diagnosis of another mental illness to be made.
Connections With Other Mental Illnesses
In some instances, schizoid personality disorder may lead to another mental health condition or co-occur. Schizoid personality disorder often co-occurs with other personality disorders, such as schizotypal, paranoid, or avoidant personality disorder.
What Are The Causes Of Schizoid Personality Disorder?
Symptoms of schizoid personality disorder may first be noticed in childhood or adolescence. The cause is considered unknown, but studies have found a 30% genetic hereditary rate. An increased population of people with schizoid personality disorder have relatives with schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder.
Differentials Of Schizoid Personality Disorder
Although schizoid personality disorder may have some symptoms overlapping with other personality disorders, there are several ways to differentiate them, including the following.
Length Of Delusions
Schizoid personality disorder is distinguished from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depressive disorder with psychotic features because it does not produce persistent delusions or hallucinations. People with schizoid personality disorder might experience hallucinations or delusions briefly in periods of extreme stress, but it is not constant.
People with schizoid personality disorder may not experience profound cognitive and perceptual distortions, unlike people with schizotypal personality disorder.
A Lack Of Paranoia
People with paranoid personality disorder tend to be suspicious and have paranoid ideation, unlike people with schizoid personality disorder.
A Lack Of Preoccupation With Social Opinions
People with avoidant personality disorder tend to have limited social interactions because they are often afraid of embarrassment, rejection, or inadequacy, unlike those with schizoid personality disorder. People with schizoid personality disorder may not be bothered by the opinions of others.
Concerns Similar To Schizoid Personality Disorder
People who show high levels of introversion might show some of the symptoms of schizoid personality disorder. In addition, people who have recently moved from one cultural background to another culture might show symptoms of withdrawal and difficulty with emotions. However, these experiences are often considered normal and not symptoms of a personality disorder unless they persist and profoundly impact someone's life long-term.
Explore Schizoid Personality Disorder And Its Symptoms
If you are concerned that you or someone about whom you care might have schizoid personality disorder, you don't have to face these concerns alone. You can get further information about the disorder from licensed mental health professionals through an online platform like BetterHelp. If going to a therapist's office makes you uncomfortable, you might try online therapy, which research has shown to be as effective as in-person therapy.
An online platform lets you communicate with your therapist via videoconference, phone, or in-app messaging. You can also be matched with a therapist experienced with personality disorders. When you sign up, you can note your symptoms and preferences for therapy, which can offer you control over the treatment process.
What is a characteristic of schizoid personality disorder?
Qualities of schizoid personality disorder (SPD) may seem odd to other people and create challenges for those who have it. There are a few characteristics commonly displayed by individuals with SPD, including:
- A lack of enjoyment or interest in having close relationships.
- Inability to form relationships.
- Having little or no desire for sexual activity.
- Wanting to be alone, avoiding social connections.
- Avoidance of activities generally considered pleasurable.
- Lack of social skills and difficulty expressing emotions.
- Seeming cold, indifferent, and humorless in social situations.
- Lacking drive and motivation to achieve goals.
- Indifference to praise or criticism from others.
SPD symptoms are sometimes associated with other conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, another personality disorder, and schizophrenia. However, these conditions are very different from SPD in many ways, and misinterpreting the symptoms can sometimes result in misdiagnosis.
Professional intervention is required to successfully diagnose and treat mental health conditions such as these. Treatments may involve a combination of methods such as cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy.
What causes schizoid personality disorder is still somewhat unclear, but research points to a mix of factors, including genetics, childhood environment, and traumatic experiences.
What is an example of schizoid personality disorder?
Schizoid personality disorder comes in a few forms typified by the severity of symptoms. Examples include:
- Affectless Schizoid—Possesses a significantly limited ability to express a range of emotions.
- Remote Schizoid— Prefers to withdraw or isolate from people, including friends and family.
- Languid Schizoid— Behavior marked by significant fatigue and apathy.
- Depersonalized Schizoid—The individual feels removed from their experiences or like an outside observer of their own life.
How does it feel to have schizoid personality disorder?
Because of the nature of its symptoms and the fact that experiences are likely to differ between individuals, it’s difficult to tell how it feels to have schizoid personality disorder.
Some people with schizoid personality disorder report feeling fear of social interactions and anxiety about relationships. Case studies indicate that some people with severe SPD may be capable of emotion through fantasies. Others highlight the link between schizoid symptoms and suicide as an indicator of the unexpressed mental pain of isolation.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) immediately for help.
Schizoid personality disorder diagnosed and treated with methods like talk therapy may help individuals with SPD to speak openly about their inner experiences, and many believe that only through treatment can schizoid personality disorder be understood. However, as with most personality disorders, people with SPD don’t often seek treatment because they don’t think their thoughts and behaviors are problematic.
What is schizotypal personality disorder most likely to be characterized by?
SPD is an especially avoidant personality disorder, and the primary manifestation of schizoid personality disorder reflects that. SPD is most likely characterized by a chronic pattern of detachment and disinterest in social relationships. Typically, people with SPD have no desire for, or enjoyment in, close personal relationships.
Can schizoids fall in love?
People with SPD can fall in love but typically have difficulty initiating and sustaining intimate relationships. Schizoid personality disorder treated early can increase an individual’s ability to express love towards others.
What do schizoids fear?
Like many people, fears of rejection and loneliness are typical for those developing schizoid personality disorder. These may be sourced from adverse childhood experiences of severe neglect and emotional deprivation.
Do schizoids cry?
Outward manifestations of emotion are typically rare, but it is possible for some people with SPD to cry on occasion. Co-occurring mental health conditions commonly associated with SPD, like depression and anxiety disorders, may contribute to emotional expressions like crying.
Do schizoids make eye contact?
People with schizoid personality disorder typically avoid eye contact, as it often makes them feel uncomfortable.
Are schizoids shy?
Although their behavior may suggest otherwise, individuals with SPD don’t typically experience feelings such as shyness. This may be due to several reasons, including apathy towards other people’s thoughts and opinions or emotional isolation from others.
Do schizoids get angry?
It’s challenging to claim definitively whether people with SPD do or don’t experience anger. Even when provoked, most maintain a flat affect and won’t react or show emotion.
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