Schizoid personality disorder is a psychiatric condition in which the affected person tends to avoid any sort of social or personal interaction and emotionally appears distant and cold. However, the person may actually suffer from loneliness rather than being entirely emotionally detached. The symptoms of schizoid personality are different from those of schizophrenia although the person may have similar type of emotional bluntness.
People having family members suffering from schizoid personality disorder or schizophrenia or any traumatic experience in childhood are at greater risk. Like many other mental diseases the exact cause of schizophrenia is not known. Treatment options include medication, counseling either individually or in a group.
Commonly found symptoms in patients with schizoid personality disorder includes :
- Patients prefer to stay alone and work alone.
- They do not even like the idea of being dependent on anyone other than themselves.
- Usually they are uncomfortable in social gatherings and quite at a loss regarding how to interact with others. Thus they have no or few friends. Similarly they lack bonding even with family members and may not show any interest in having sexual relationships as they fear being emotionally intimate with someone.
- Tend to live in their very own rich and elaborate personal fantasy world.
- They are quite incapable of showing any emotional response thus others find them emotionally cold, unresponsive and aloof.
- Patients usually perform poorly at school or in the work place and tend to lack motivation.
There is a type of schizoid personality where the person outwardly seems engaging with an interactive personality but inwardly prefers to remain emotionally detached and withdrawn. For example they may like public speaking but may find difficulty with individual conversations during breaks.
In many cases the symptoms first appear during childhood when the affected person becomes confused and anxious in presence of other people. They find it difficult to make friends and interact with others and they eventually give up and become a “prisoner” of their own fantasy world.
Common complications of schizoid personality disorder include developing schizophrenia, delusional disorder, illicit substance abuse, alcoholism, depression, anxiety disorder, frustration or other type of personality disorder.
The exact cause of schizoid personality disorder is not known, however, environmental factors and genetic make up are believed to play an important role. It is found that having family members, especially parents suffering from schizophrenia, increases the chance of developing schizoid personality types. Children who had any traumatic experience during childhood which blunts their emotional response or are oversensitive to criticism, have parents who are unloving or excessively perfectionist, may suffer from this type of personality disorder.
Very few people suffering from this mental health disorder seek medical treatment and it is very difficult for those few to fully open up to the doctor. This makes therapy difficult. One of the crucial aspects of treatment is for the doctor to understand the importance and need of personal space of the patient and not push them while offering treatment. Therapeutic options include :
- Medication like antipsychotics or antidepressants.
- Counseling individually or in group to improve the ability for social and interpersonal interaction.
There is no cure for schizoid personality disorder but a combination of psychotherapy and drug therapy is useful in managing the condition.