Schizoid Personality Disorder is not the same thing as schizophrenia. Like schizophrenics, people with Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) experience a lack of emotion, the avoidance of relationships and activities, plus a lack of motivation. Here’s where the distinctive differences emerge, though: A group of odd, often distressing personality disorders is called a “cluster” in the mental health world. The Schizoid Personality Disorder has such a cluster, and it includes a lack of close personal relationships, being detached from other people in society – including relatives, plus former, now rejected friends. Neighbors don’t do well at interacting with “I want to avoid you” SPDers in their midst. People with SPD tend to be introverted and to prefer solitary activities. Schizophrenics aren’t able to make the choice. They’re so lost in their bewildered state that they remain isolated due to their lack of contact with reality.
Differentiating SPD from Schizophrenia
SPDers choose professions which allow them to remain separate from people so that their minimal interactions do not tax their limited ability to be sociable. They actively hide from people so that they need not interact with them. People with SPD show little if any emotion, either because they prefer to hide their emotional life or don’t sense one. They don’t crave sex or relationships. They might be content with a pet’s companionship or a hobby. An individual with SPD will take, and maintain, a job below their level of intelligence and skill just to remain away from social interactions.
The essential difference between someone with SPD and actual schizophrenia is that SPDers don’t experience hallucinations. They can thus hold jobs. Schizophrenics, however, hallucinate and struggle to remain employed due to their aversion to human interaction and to their misperception of human interaction. At best, schizophrenics might be able to maintain employment in sheltered workshops structured to meet their unusual needs. They require medication for the safety of people around them. SPDers do not present such a danger.
Diagnosing and Treating SPD: A Mixed Bag
Psychotherapy and medication can prove helpful to people with Schizoid Personality Disorder, though they might not seek it out. The task to diagnose SPDers is thus challenging. The key traits to be identified in Schizoid Personality Disorder are the inability to work up much emotion beyond anxiety (usually about social contact), the ability to remain employed, and the absence of hallucinations. Schizophrenics can seem “off the wall,” emotionally speaking. Schizophrenics hallucinate, too, and to the point that they can’t differentiate between reality and fantasy let alone deal with unsubstantiated paranoia.