An Overview of Schizoid Personality Disorder

schizoid personality disorder

Personality disorders include a group of mental health conditions characterized by chronic and pervasive symptoms that can significantly impact relationships, work, and overall health. Schizoid personality disorder describes people who are generally able to function well in society but may be described as withdrawn or distant. 

What Is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Schizoid personality disorder is primarily characterized by a pattern of detachment from, and indifference toward, relationships and a restricted range of emotional expression. That means they lack a desire for emotional attachment to others.

This detachment even includes a lack of interest in sex. As a result, they rarely date or marry and tend to have very few friends. Even though they live solitary lifestyles, people with schizoid personality disorder rarely feel alone. They also tend to have difficulty expressing feelings, such as anger, which further contributes to the impression that they lack emotion. They often feel as though they are emotionally disconnected from the world. 

Those with schizoid personality disorder rarely feel there is anything wrong with them. They often choose careers with minimal social contact that others may find extremely difficult or lonely.

They may be described as “passive” or “indifferent” in their pursuit of goals. Some with schizoid personality disorder tend to spend excessive amounts of time daydreaming or lost in thought, making them appear distracted or absent to others. 

There is evidence that schizoid personality disorder shares genetic risk factors with schizophrenia. While social withdrawal is characteristic of both disorders, people with schizoid personality disorder are connected with reality, unlike those with schizophrenia. 

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Symptoms

  • Aloof and detached
  • No desire for, or enjoyment of, close relationships, even family
  • Avoidance of social activities; chooses solitary activities instead
  • Little or no interest in sexual experiences with another person
  • Indifferent to praise or criticism
  • Emotionally detached and cold with flattened affect
  • Little change in observed mood
  • Rarely takes pleasure in activities

A mental health professional can diagnose schizoid personality disorder using a psychiatric assessment which may be followed by questionnaires. Schizoid personality disorder is relatively rare. It is typically diagnosed in adulthood and symptoms must be present for at least a year if diagnosed in childhood or adolescence.

Risk Factors and Causes

There is no known direct cause of schizoid personality disorder. Men are more likely than women to experience schizoid personality disorder and most people with this condition have a relative with schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder. This suggests that there is a genetic susceptibility to developing schizoid personality disorder. Other risk factors include early life trauma, such as abuse or neglect, brain injuries, and having an emotionally detached parent. Most researchers agree that the cause of onset of schizoid personality disorder is likely due to a combination of genetic, social, and psychological factors. 

Treatment

Many people with schizoid personality disorder do not seek treatment since they tend to avoid interacting with people and are hesitant about building a relationship with a therapist. Usually, treatment is only sought once their lives have been significantly disrupted in some major way. Although rarely sought, therapy can be effective in improving the quality of life and social skills for people with this personality disorder. 

Types of therapy commonly used with schizoid personality disorder are cognitive behavioral therapy and group therapy. Both types of therapy can be beneficial for improving quality of life. Group therapy can be difficult but is an effective and safe way for people with schizoid personality disorder to practice their social skills. Clients do best when therapists do not push too hard and focus on simple treatment goals that directly deal with the presenting concerns.

Medications may be used to treat some symptoms of schizoid personality disorder, such as when there is anxiety or depression present. Medications are usually used in combination with therapy.

If you have a loved one with this condition, you can help them by being patient and accepting. Do not try to push them but instead seek to do activities together that do not require a great deal of socialization. You can also refer them to a mental health professional to help them work through some of their symptoms that may be negatively impacting their lives.

If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of this condition, contact a mental health professional to help guide you through a diagnosis and treatment plan.

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Dr. Lisa Batten is a psychologist, writer, and personal trainer. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology. She specializes in writing about mental health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness.
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