At work, people with schizoid personality disorder are often brilliant at logical and abstract thinking. Problems are more likely to arise when they are more closely involved with other people.
What is schizoid personality disorder?
Psychology speaks of a schizoid personality disorder when people have problems establishing social contacts with other people, whereby the boundaries between personal characteristics and a disorder are fluid. People with schizoid personality disorder appear cold, aloof, and emotionally distant to others, and have difficulty expressing their feelings appropriately. See bittranslators for About Globule Cell Anemia.
They tend to avoid contact with other people and take refuge in fantasies, perhaps to compensate for the lack of a social environment. In professional life, they prefer jobs where they can work alone, constant teamwork is not for them. They long for closeness, but at the same time are afraid of it. This can lead to a feeling of loneliness. Often, however, it is not so much the person affected who suffers from the disorder, but rather their social environment.
Most personality disorders involve a mixture of biological, genetic, and environmental influences. There appears to be a genetic predisposition, as schizoid personality disorder is more common in families with a family member having schizophrenia. Many people with this personality disorder are very sensitive by nature, coupled with a slight susceptibility to illness.
A strict upbringing, neglect or emotional abuse can also play a role, or a personality disorder in one of the parents. Psychoanalysts suspect a negative attitude or abuse by the parents or experiences of frustration when contacting them in the past. A possible cause could also be that those affected can feel feelings such as fear and anger, but cannot express them appropriately and therefore try to avoid contact.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The boundaries between personal characteristics and a disorder are sometimes very fluid. In the case of schizoid personality disorder, it depends on whether those affected suffer from their withdrawal or whether they need the retreat for their individual well-being. Psychology has identified nine possible symptoms that speak for a schizoid personality disorder:
- little pleasure in activities
- reduced affects, emotional detachment
- Difficulty expressing warm, tender feelings or anger
- seeming indifference to praise and criticism
- little interest in sexual experiences with others
- strong fantasies
- Preference for solitary activities
- little desire for close social relationships
- lowered sense of social norms
Diagnosis & course of disease
Because the boundaries between personality traits and disorders are blurred, it is not easy to diagnose schizoid personality disorder. It is a challenge even for professionals such as physicians and doctors. According to the ICD 10 catalog of criteria, at least three of the nine symptoms listed must be present for a reliable diagnosis. This is made difficult by various circumstances. Two clear symptoms are not enough, there must be three.
Some symptoms are similar to those of other psychological or neurological diagnoses, such as Asperger’s Syndrome, which the diagnosis must rule out. Sometimes multiple diagnoses are necessary because multiple disorders overlap and obscure the schizoid personality disorder. The symptoms must not only occur for a short time, but must be permanently present. A further complication is that many of those affected are able to compensate for behavioral problems, to suppress them at times or to hide them behind a facade.
The detachment that is typical of people with schizoid personality disorder can lead to misunderstandings, especially in social situations. Other people may interpret detachment as disinterest or rejection. In addition, schizoid personalities often show only limited feelings. They can therefore come across as cold or callous to other people.
Their emotions and needs are sometimes not taken into account: on the one hand, many schizoid personalities do not express themselves explicitly enough in this regard, on the other hand, the expressions of feelings are sometimes misunderstood or ignored. Without lasting friendships and relationships, schizoid personalities often feel marginalized, misunderstood, and lonely. The flattened emotional reactions can also lead to problems in professional life.
People with schizoid personality disorder sometimes feel stigmatized. Misunderstandings are also possible when the schizoid personality disorder is confused with other mental illnesses, such as Asperger’s syndrome. Since the schizoid personality disorder is rare and other diseases are also known to laypeople, such confusions often occur in everyday life. Complications can also occur during treatment if the differential diagnosis is not taken into account.
Other mental illnesses can develop as a complication. However, other mental disorders can also co-occur with or precede schizoid personality disorder. Many of those affected also suffer from (major) depression. With and without depression, suicidality can be a serious complication of schizoid personality disorder.
When should you go to the doctor?
People who have a schizoid personality usually don’t realize this. They live in the belief that everything is fine with them. Rather, it is the environment that suffers from the symptoms of the personality disorder. Initiating a visit to the doctor with the person concerned is extremely problematic. The relationship of trust must be very stable and be able to withstand stress so that a diagnosis can be made. However, the affected person usually avoids a close bond with another person.
Consultation with a doctor is recommended as soon as behavioral problems that are described as abnormal occur. Emotional injuries and the inability to work in a team or be considerate of other people are considered characteristic of the personality disorder. Concerns include reduced affect, reduced emotional participation in social interactions, and the development of vivid fantasies.
Indifference to the blows of fate, praise and criticism, inability to exchange tender feelings and sexual apathy indicate irregularities in the human psyche. Going it alone in the professional sphere or being a loner in private life are further signs that are associated with the schizoid personality disorder. A doctor is always needed when the person concerned or relatives suffer from the disease.
Treatment & Therapy
A schizoid personality disorder is usually treated with depth psychological, psychoanalytic or cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy. Affected people are encouraged to get in contact with other people and to enjoy them. However, those affected rarely start therapy voluntarily because they usually see no need for action. In therapy, they seem distant and uninvolved.
Therefore, the therapist must ensure a trusting relationship and provide more active support to the client. At the same time, he must be careful not to overwhelm the client with too much emotional work, but instead respect the desire for distance and give him the opportunity to do homework and email contact. Psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy pursues the goal of those affected learning to make contact with other people again and to make these contacts reliable and satisfying, but at the same time to make living alone more satisfying.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps those affected to reopen to emotional interpersonal experiences and to better perceive their own feelings. In therapy, they also learn to deal with the feelings that their dismissive behavior triggers in others and learn more appropriate strategies.
Group therapy can be useful to reduce social anxiety. But then you have to feel comfortable in the group. Psychotropic drugs are occasionally prescribed in parallel with psychotherapy for severe depression or delusions, but the positive benefit has not yet been clearly demonstrated.
There is usually no special prevention for personality disorders because they only develop over the course of life. When they do occur, it is important to identify them early to avoid passing pathological behavior from one generation to the next. It is also helpful if those affected do not abruptly withdraw from contacts, but communicate their needs openly with their social environment.
Mental illnesses require professional follow-up care even after successful completion of therapy. The symptoms accompany those affected for years to come, in many cases for life. Especially after a psychiatric stay, the patient has to be reintegrated into his everyday life and the familiar environment. He cannot take the step alone on his own. For this he needs the supportive help of a psychotherapist.
Schizoid personality disorders are associated with a conspicuous withdrawal into oneself. The person concerned avoids acquaintances that he maintained before the onset of his illness. During follow-up care, a differentiation must be made as to whether the social withdrawal is actually (still) caused by the illness or is related to the personality of the patient.
If the patient breaks certain friendships but appears content, the therapist should accept the decision. A conscious break in contact may even be necessary for the recovery of the person concerned. Friends who do not take his illness into account or understand it as such have a negative effect on his mental balance.
In the event of deterioration due to acute events, the treating specialist will provide first aid. This professional contact point gives the patient a feeling of security. This makes it easier for him to return to everyday life. Relatives of the person concerned can also turn to the therapist if they have specific questions.
You can do that yourself
Clear instructions for self-help are rare for the schizoid personality disorder because this personality disorder does not occur frequently and is often associated with social withdrawal. These characteristics make close cooperation in self-help groups difficult.
In everyday life, people with a schizoid personality disorder often suffer from the fact that they only have superficial contact with other people. In addition, their behavior is often misunderstood by other people. An approach to self-help can therefore consist of making your own behavior understandable to your partner, family or other close people. One way is to verbalize your feelings when they can’t be expressed in any other way. Since the schizoid personality disorder can lead to very different difficulties in everyday life, individual solutions are required. In order to identify such, it can be useful to ask confidants for feedback. What would help them to deal better with a (lack of) reaction? Important is, to understand that the schizoid personality disorder cannot be “switched off” in this way. It may, however, become more understandable for the partner and other immediate family members.
How people with a schizoid personality disorder best organize their everyday life can also be discussed in the context of therapy. In behavioral therapy in particular, therapists often give their patients homework in order to anchor the findings from the therapy sessions in everyday life.