What Is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Schizoid personality disorder is often assumed to be a form of schizophrenia due to similarities in name. Many people find themselves surprised when they inquire further, asking “What is schizoid personality disorder?” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, provides a schizoid personality disorder definition of, “A pattern of detachment from social relationships and a limited range of emotional expression.”

This definition can leave many people with questions and uncertainties about the diagnosis, causes, and symptoms of schizoid personality disorder. Some people may continue to wonder, “Is schizoid personality disorder related to schizophrenia?” after reading this definition. While the two are different disorders, they share the same root word, schiz-, which generally refers to a split or divide. When used relating to mental health, this root indicates that the person experiencing the disorder has some sort of split between themselves and reality or other people. A person with schizoid personality disorder, unlike someone with schizophrenia, is in touch with reality and can articulate their thoughts in a way that is understandable to others.

Causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder

There is much that remains a mystery about schizoid personality disorder, including what causes it. Personality refers to the way that a person views themselves, other people and the outside world. It is comprised of each person’s unique thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Personality disorders are generally thought to develop during childhood.

It is unknown if personality disorders are caused solely from childhood experiences and environment or if there are genetic components as well. When examining commonalities in people with this diagnosis, a few risk factors are identified that may increase the likelihood that someone will develop this personality disorder. These schizoid personality disorder causes include:

  • Growing up around a person who has schizoid personality disorder because personality may largely be developed from watching others in early childhood
  • Growing up around a person who has schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia since these disorders often present with relative isolation and a lack of appropriate emotional expression
  • Being raised by a parent who was dismissive to their emotional needs or showed coldness to the child thus neglecting their emotional needs

Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder

Personality disorders are separated into three clusters based on common traits. Schizoid personality disorder is part of cluster A which is generally regarded as odd or eccentric personalities. Schizoid personality disorder symptoms may include feeling disconnected from others but also not craving that connection. People who have this condition may prefer solitary activities and have a very constricted range of emotional expression. As a result, these individuals may be regarded as cold or aloof. The diagnostic criteria for schizoid personality disorder include:

  • Not wanting or enjoying close relationships with other people
  • Selection of independent activities
  • Minimal, if any, interest in sexual activity
  • Lack of pleasure or enjoyment from engaging in activities
  • Lack of close friendships
  • Indifference to praise or criticism
  • Emotional detachment, or coldness, towards people with a limited range of expressed emotions

The withdrawal from relationships and lack of emotional expression are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. However, these two disorders differ greatly in that a person with PTSD does not necessarily want to avoid connection with others but instead may experience this because of other symptoms. Further, with PTSD a lack of pleasure and emotional detachment are the result of a traumatic event rather than being personality traits.

Because the general public typically knows little, if anything, about this disorder, it is easy to wonder, “How common is schizoid personality disorder?” Some researchers estimate that schizoid personality disorder is present in less than 1 percent of the population. This is a very rare disorder and is not commonly treated, which contributes to many misconceptions. There have been limited opportunities to study and fully explain this disorder.

How Is Schizoid Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

In most cases, a personality disorder cannot be diagnosed prior to the age of 18. The one exception to this is borderline personality disorder and even, in this case, it is often rare to diagnose before the age of 18. Personalities change and evolve throughout childhood and usually do not fully develop until the age of 18.

To diagnose schizoid personality disorder or other personality disorders, any bio-medical conditions that could be contributing to the symptoms must first be eliminated. The professional conducting the assessment can then thoroughly discuss the patient’s symptoms, personality development and way of thinking.

Who Is at Risk for Schizoid Personality Disorder?

While there is no schizoid personality disorder test, professionals can look for the presence of certain risk factors to inform a diagnosis. A person who is at risk for schizoid personality disorder was likely raised by a cold or dismissive caregiver. Additionally, the person could have developed their personality following modeling from a close adult who may have schizoid personality disorder themselves, or even possible schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia.

Schizoid Personality Disorder Statistics

Analyzing schizoid personality disorder statistics can be difficult due to the small incidence of this disorder in the population. In addition to potentially being present in less than 1 percent of the population, this is a diagnosis for which very few people seek treatment. Little is known about the patterns and commonalities of people with this diagnosis beyond identifying the disorder to be more common in men. When the same risk factors are experienced by women, they are much more likely to develop a cluster B personality disorder, which is the cluster characterized by being overly dramatic and emotional.

If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and schizoid personality disorder, help is available at professional centers across the country. The Recovery Village is one such group of centers that offer comprehensive treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders. For more information about our care options, reach out to a representative today.

Schizoid Personality Disorder
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