Schizoid Personality Disorder

What is a personality disorder?
Personality is vital to defining who we are as individuals. It involves a unique blend of traits—including attitudes, thoughts, behaviors, and moods—as well as how we express these traits in our contacts with other people and the world around us. Some characteristics of an individual’s personality are inherited, and some are shaped by life events and experiences. A personality disorder can develop if certain personality traits become too rigid and inflexible.

People with personality disorders have long-standing patterns of thinking and acting that differ from what society considers usual or normal. The inflexibility of their personality can cause great distress, and can interfere with many areas of life, including social and work functioning. People with personality disorders generally also have poor coping skills and difficulty forming healthy relationships.

Unlike people with anxiety disorders, who know they have a problem but are unable to control it, people with personality disorders generally are not aware that they have a problem and do not believe they have anything to control. Because they do not believe they have a disorder, people with personality disorders often do not seek treatment.

What is schizoid personality disorder?
Schizoid personality disorder 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 relationships. They generally are loners who prefer solitary activities and rarely express strong emotion. 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.

What are the 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. The following are additional traits of people with this disorder:

What causes 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.

How common is schizoid personality disorder?
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 beings in early adulthood.

How is schizoid personality disorder diagnosed?
If symptoms are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose personality disorders, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a personality disorder.

How is schizoid personality disorder treated?
People with this disorder rarely seek treatment because their thoughts and behavior generally do not cause them distress. Their inability to form relationships with others also poses a challenge for therapists because trust is an important component of treatment.

Psychotherapy – a form of counseling – is the most commonly used treatment for schizoid personality disorder. Treatment likely will focus on increasing general coping skills, as well as on improving social interaction, communication, and self-esteem.

Medicine is generally not used to treat schizoid personality disorder itself. Medicine might, however, be prescribed if the person also suffers from an associated psychological problem, such as depression.

What are the complications of schizoid personality disorder?
A lack of social interaction is the main complication of this disorder. People with schizoid personality disorder are rarely violent, as they prefer not to interact with people.

What is the outlook for people with schizoid personality disorder?
Although some of their behaviors might be odd, people with schizoid personality disorder are generally able to function in everyday life. However, they might not form any meaningful relationships or have families of their own.

Can schizoid personality disorder be prevented?
There is no known way to prevent schizoid personality disorder.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional health information, please contact the Center for Consumer Health Information at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771. If you prefer, you may visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health/ or www.clevelandclinicflorida.org. This document was last reviewed on: 6/29/2007

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