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Schizoid Personality Disorder

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In-depth look at Schizoid Personality Disorder - signs and symptoms, diagnosis, causes, and treatment.

Schizoid personality disorder (SZPD) is one of a group of conditions called eccentric personality disorders. People with these disorders often appear odd or peculiar. People with schizoid personality disorder also tend to be distant, detached, and indifferent to social or close relationships. They generally are loners who prefer solitary activities and rarely express strong emotion. This person's life is marked by little pleasure in activities. People with this disorder appear indifferent to the praise or criticism of others and often seem cold or aloof. People with schizoid personality disorder are rarely violent, as they prefer not to interact with people.

Although the names sound alike and they might have some similar symptoms, schizoid personality disorder is not the same thing as schizophrenia. Many people with schizoid personality disorder can function fairly well. They tend to choose jobs that allow them to work alone, such as night security officers and library or laboratory workers.

It is difficult to accurately assess the prevalence of this disorder because people with schizoid personality disorder rarely seek treatment. Schizoid personality disorder affects men more often than women and is more common in people who have close relatives with schizophrenia. Schizoid personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood.

What are the signs and symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder?

People with schizoid personality disorder often are reclusive, organizing their lives to avoid contact with other people. Many never marry and continue to live with their parents as adults. They talk little, are given to daydreaming, and prefer theoretical speculation to practical action. Fantasizing is a common coping (defense) mechanism. The following are additional traits of people with this disorder

  • They do not desire or enjoy close relationships, even with family members.

  • They choose solitary jobs and activities.

  • They take pleasure in few activities, including sex.

  • They have no close friends, except first-degree relatives.

  • They have difficulty relating to others.

  • They are indifferent to praise or criticism.

  • They are aloof and show little emotion.

  • They might daydream and/or create vivid fantasies of complex inner lives.

DSM IV Criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder

n-depth look at Schizoid Personality Disorder - signs and symptoms, diagnosis, causes, and treatment.A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

  • neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family

  • almost always chooses solitary activities

  • has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person

  • takes pleasure in few, if any, activities

  • lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives

  • appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others

  • shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity

Does not occur exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia, a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, another Psychotic Disorder, or a Pervasive Developmental Disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition. Note: If criteria are met prior to the onset of Schizophrenia, add "Premorbid," e.g., "Schizoid Personality Disorder (Premorbid)."

What causes someone to develop Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Little is known about the cause of schizoid personality disorder, but both genetics and environment are suspected to play a role. Some mental health professionals speculate that a bleak childhood where warmth and emotion were absent contributes to the development of the disorder. The higher risk for schizoid personality disorder in families of schizophrenics suggests that a genetic susceptibility for the disorder might be inherited.

What are the risk factors linked to Schizoid Personality Disorder?

It is likely that a sustained history of isolation during infancy and childhood with encouragement and modeling of interpersonal withdrawal, indifference, and detachment by parental figures contributes to the development of schizoid personality traits.

How is Schizoid Personality Disorder diagnosed?

There are no laboratory tests for schizoid personality disorder, and diagnosis usually comes after a thorough clinical interview. During this interview, the doctor will ask questions about symptoms and mental well-being, and take a medical, psychiatric and social history. A physical examination can help rule out other conditions, and a mental health professional will likely be consulted for further evaluation.