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Schizoid personality disorder

Definition

Schizoid personality disorder is a mental condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of indifference to others and social isolation.

Alternative Names

Personality disorder - schizoid

Causes

Cause of this disorder is unknown. It may be related to schizophrenia and shares many of the same risk factors.

Schizoid personality disorder is not as disabling as schizophrenia. It doesn't cause the disconnection from reality (in the form of hallucinations or delusions) that occurs in schizophrenia.

Symptoms

A person with schizoid personality disorder often:

  • Appears distant and detached
  • Avoids social activities that involve emotional closeness with other people
  • Does not want or enjoy close relationships, even with family members

Exams and Tests

This disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation. The health care provider will consider how long and how severe the person's symptoms are.

Treatment

People with this disorder will often not seek treatment. For this reason, little is known about which treatments work. Talk therapy may not be effective. This is because people with this disorder may have a hard time forming a good working relationship with a therapist.

One approach that seems to help is to put fewer demands for emotional closeness or intimacy on the person.

People with schizoid personality disorder often do well in relationships that don't focus on emotional closeness. They tend to be better at handling relationships that focus on:

  • Work
  • Intellectual activities
  • Expectations

Outlook (Prognosis)

Schizoid personality disorder is a long-term (chronic) illness that usually does not improve much over time. Social isolation often prevents the person from asking for help or support.

Limiting expectations of emotional intimacy may help people with this condition make and keep connections with other people.

References

American Psychiatric Association. Schizoid personality disorder. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 2013:652-655.

Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA, Hopwood CJ. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 39.