Personality disorders are a group of mental health disorders characterized by behaviors and patterns of thinking that are different from societal norms. People with these disorders have a certain personality and behavioral traits that can make it difficult to function and fit into society.
Schizoid personality disorder is one type of personality disorder, and it is characterized by social detachment to an extreme degree. Affected individuals prefer to be alone and avoid interpersonal contact of any kind, including sexual interaction. They do not care what other people think of them and seem oblivious to being criticized or praised by others. They are also emotionally detached, feeling and expressing little emotion regardless of the circumstances.
People with schizoid personality disorder are somewhat mysterious because they express no emotion and keep to themselves. Because of this, there are many myths about schizoid personality disorder. Understanding schizoid personality disorder requires challenging these myths and replacing them with the truth. Here are the facts about schizoid personality disorder.
Myth #1: Schizoid personality disorder is similar to schizophrenia
Fact: Schizoid personality disorder is a completely different mental health condition than schizophrenia.
When it comes to schizoid personality disorder vs. schizophrenia, the two have little in common. The main difference — and the reason why they are completely different disorders — is that schizoid personality disorder is not a psychotic disorder. As such, it is in a completely different diagnostic category than schizophrenia.
Both disorders do share some similar genetic causes and have social withdrawal symptoms. However, people with schizoid personality disorder do not lose touch with reality or experience delusions, hallucinations or paranoia like people with schizophrenia.
Possibly due to the shared genetic causes, people with schizoid personality disorder are at risk of developing psychosis and schizophrenia at some point in their lives. In this way, schizoid personality disorder and schizophrenia are linked.
Myth #2: People with schizoid personality disorder are violent
Fact: Violence is not a typical characteristic of schizoid personality disorder.
Some people believe that schizoid personality disorder is dangerous. However, it is not characterized by aggressive or violent behavior. In fact, people with schizoid personality don’t really get angry much at all. Instead, they have flat emotions and experience neither highs nor lows.
People with this disorder rarely seek treatment, which keeps them mostly unidentified and unavailable for study, so research about the link between schizoid personality disorder and violent behavior is sparse.
One study looking at Greek prison populations concluded that schizoid personality disorder was associated with violent crimes and homicides, but this study suffered from some serious design flaws. There were no control groups for co-occurring mental health disorders, and the conclusions were based on findings that lacked statistical significance. The conclusions of this paper have not been reproduced by other studies.
Overall, there is no convincing evidence that people with schizoid personality disorder are inclined toward violent behavior. In addition, violence, aggression or even anger are not described as symptoms of the disorder. When there is violent behavior, it is likely related to co-occurring mental health disorders rather than schizoid personality disorder itself.
Myth #3: Individuals with schizoid personality disorder can’t function normally
Fact: Many people with schizoid personality disorder are able to function fairly well and can work and support themselves.
Impaired ability to function is a core feature of personality disorders. However, the level of impaired functioning differs between each one. Cluster A personality disorders, such as schizoid personality disorder, are generally associated with higher functioning than others, such as borderline or histrionic personality disorder.
Though schizoid personality disorder is a high-functioning disorder, the functional impairments of people with this condition relate to their reclusiveness and detachment from life. They tend to view themselves as observers of life rather than participants. Jobs for people with schizoid personality disorder may involve little or no social contact, even if those jobs fall below their level of ability. They avoid interpersonal relationships and live as loners. Although this is their preferred way of living, they suffer what has been described as “unbearable and inescapable loneliness” from their social isolation.
One interesting study presented a first-person account of what it is like living with schizoid personality disorder. It gives an excellent insight into the life and function of an individual who lives with this disorder. The man’s story demonstrates that some people with the disorder can lead productive lives, though they might not be entirely normal.
Much of their ability to function depends on any co-occurring mental health disorders that they may have. For example, depression is an especially debilitating co-occurring mental health disorder that is common among people with schizoid personality disorder. These disorders can prevent function if left untreated.
Myth #4: Schizoid personality disorder can be treated with medication
Fact: Schizoid personality disorder is not treatable with medication.
Unfortunately, people with schizoid personality disorder usually “lack insight” into their condition. Psychiatrists use this term to describe a characteristic of certain mental health disorders that makes people believe there is nothing wrong with them. Because of this lack of insight, people with schizoid personality disorder rarely seek help or treatment.
Due to its relative rarity and the reclusiveness of the affected individuals, schizoid personality disorder treatment has not been well studied. Though schizoid and other personality disorders cannot be treated with medication, co-occurring conditions such as depression can be.
The mainstay of treatment for schizoid personality is psychotherapy. However, it may take a long time before a therapist can establish trust, and the therapy is unlikely to change the individual’s overall dysfunctional personality traits. Therefore, therapy is usually directed at addressing specific stressors in the individual’s life or correcting persistent, irrational thoughts that are negatively affecting the individual’s behavior. For people with schizoid personality disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) appears to offer the most appropriate framework for helping with recovery.
If you or a loved one is suffering from schizoid personality disorder and co-occurring addiction, The Recovery Village is here to help. Contact us today to learn about the various treatment options available to you.
Apostolopoulos, A., Michopoulos, I., Zachos, I., Rizos, E., Tzeferakos, G., Manthou, V., et al. “Association of schizoid and schizotypal personality disorder with violent crimes and homicides in Greek prisons.” Annals of General Psychiatry, August 10, 2018. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Chadwick, P. “Peer-professional first person account: Before psychosis—schizoid personality from the inside.” Schizophrenia Bulletin, May 2014. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Dixon-Gordon, K., Whalen, D., Layden, B., Chapman, A. “A systematic review of personality disorders and health outcomes.” Canadian Psychology, May 2015. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Esterberg, M., Goulding, S., Walker, E. “A personality disorders: Schizotypal, schizoid and paranoid personality disorders in childhood and adolescence.” Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, December 1, 2010. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Koch, J., Modesitt, T., Palmer, M., Ward, S., Martin, B., Wyatt, R., et al. “Review of pharmacologic treatment in cluster A personality disorders.” Mental Health Clinician, March 2016. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Loza, W., Hanna, S. “Is schizoid personality a forerunner of homicidal or suicidal behavior?” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, June 2006. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Matusiewicz, A., Hopwood, C., Banducci, A., Lejuez, C. “The effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for personality disorders.” Psychiatric Clinics of North America, September 2010. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Ripoll, L., Triebwasser, J., Siever, L. “Evidence-based pharmacotherapy for personality disorders.” International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, October 2011. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Robitz, R. “What are personality disorders?” American Psychiatric Association, November 2018. Accessed June 7, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.