Schizoid Personality Disorder Explained
Have you ever heard of the Schizoid Personality Disorder?
Before getting into that, let’s first understand what a personality disorder is.
A personality is a pattern of behavior which defines a person. When we say that someone has a particular personality, we’re saying that he thinks and acts in a certain way.
Someone’s personality is also seen through his interpretation of situations. His emotions as well as his understanding and response to the environment around him also play a role in determining his personality.
When someone has a personality disorder, his personality traits and responses to his environment are contrary to the expected norms.
For example, it’s normal and expected that when you do something wrong, you’ll be remorseful. Maybe you’ll express the remorse through crying or simply being sad and apologetic.
But what if you don’t express any remorse at all?
Being unremorseful means something is not right somewhere. Such a response which is contrary to normal and expected personalities is what is referred to as a personality disorder.
One such personality disorder is the Schizoid Personality Disorder.
The Schizoid Personality Disorder is a personality disorder which causes people to seem odd and weird in their behavior. This is primarily because they don’t act or respond to emotions the way it’s normally expected.
They form no bonds with people and prefer to be alone. They makes them appear distant and detached from social relationships.
To facilitate their lifestyle, they often plan out their lives in a way that avoids contact with other people. From the choice of their home location to their jobs, this will be evident.
They might choose to live in remote areas or in the country instead of the city. As for a job, they would rather work in a position which guarantees little to no human interaction.
This makes them seem anti-social.
Despite that, people with Schizoid Personality Disorder are able to live life quite normally. They just tend to daydream excessively and form attachment to animals instead.
The disorder is quite rare though this could be because those suffering from it don’t seek treatment.
SYMPTOMS OF SCHIZOID PERSONALITY DISORDER
Like every other personality disorder, there are symptoms which can help you recognize the disorder.
All the same, when it comes to seeking medical help, a formal diagnosis has to be made. You cannot present yourself or take someone to a health facility and seek medication for a diagnosis you have made at home.
The same way doctors perform a diagnosis, so will mental health professionals perform one before any treatment is given.
But for general knowledge and also to help you understand the situation you may see or be in, here are the symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder.
No Desire or Joy for Close Relationships
Human beings are relational and living without close friends is very challenging. For others, it’s even impossible. For someone with SPD however, it’s different. Living alone is actually preferable.
People with SPD don’t see anything wrong with being alone. Not being able to relate or connect with others doesn’t bother them at all.
In fact, they like it that way.
When others are forming groups and enjoying the bonding, they enjoy being alone. If they were to be included in a group, it would not only cause them discomfort but will also make others uncomfortable.
The only people they have a close relationship with are they first degree relatives. These are those from their immediate family: parents, siblings and children.
This closeness develops purely due to the fact that they are one family.
This is viewed as odd since humans are supposed to connect and it’s through connections that life becomes meaningful.
They Appear Detached
Because they prefer being alone, they appear detached. When in the presence of others, they will normally not contribute to stories or giving opinions.
The conversations will most likely be uninteresting to them. Everyone around them might be laughing and having a good time but for them, it’s either a show of disinterest or a decision to leave.
Others may conclude that they are weird.
When enough people come across this behavior, it may be taken to be abnormal. And although this is not far-fetched, it’s not the best of descriptions.
The resulting stigma may or may not affect the person. However, a better way is to understand the person and the situation they are in.
Take Pleasure in Few, If Any Activities
People with Schizoid Personality Disorder have a limited range of emotional expression. And since activities push people to express themselves, they will struggle to do that.
Quite expectedly, this will result in their disinterest in activities.
If there is a celebration about anything, they may be present though can’t truly join in the celebration.
Activities such as games and competitions, which many people like will not feature anywhere in their favorites list.
Instead, as mentioned, their preference is to just spend time alone.
Indifference to Praise or Criticism
This is another clear symptom of Schizoid Personality Disorder.
Since emotional expressions are a rare thing for them, you’ll be surprised if you expect to make someone with SPD happy or angry.
They may have done something good and you want to appreciate them with some praise. This is what you would do with others. As you give them the same treat, they may show no emotion and this might confuse you.
It’s quite the opposite of the larger population which is eager to be praised and would rather avoid criticism. Many even have a challenge taking constructive criticism.
Praise and appreciation makes one feel good. When someone is appreciated and praised for something they’ve done, they’re motivated to do more. It’s a good way of teaching and training on good habits.
Criticism on the other hand evokes anger. Whether someone has been rightly criticized or not, they will probably not like it. Many even reject correction simply because it appears to be criticism.
But for someone with SPD, neither praise and acknowledgment nor criticism and rebuke make much of a difference. No emotional response will be seen.
As such, you can expect such people to be calm even in situations where someone insults them or yells at them. They simply have little ability to feel and express emotions.
This is one reason why they are seen as being odd.
Appear Emotionally Cold
Human interactions and relationships are mainly based on emotion. When people tell stories, whether their own or other people’s, they’re really sharing emotions.
This is what even marketers do. Advertisers don’t sell products or services—at least not directly. They sell experiences.
From research, people want to have experiences and it is experiences that move people to act.
When someone visits a new place, they’ll want to share their experience. They will do this through stories. They will have pictures of themselves smiling and laughing, maybe having exotic meals etc. these are part of the experience.
When such stories are shared, the person narrating expects the one listening to respond in ways which show they would have liked to be part of it.
But what happens when stories and experiences are shared with someone with SPD?
There won’t be such a response. There is no capacity to express such emotions. They don’t even have the ability to experience such emotions as joy or happiness leave alone express them.
This makes them seem odd and weird due to their lack of emotional expression. Very often, they will be labeled emotionally cold or unrelatable.
And since they don’t have a problem being alone, it only makes people believe that they’re really cold and without emotion.
Something similar happens when they are being told a sad story. Maybe someone got involved in an accident or is terribly sick.
While others express shock, disbelief and sadness, for them it will be different.
They won’t be moved at all.
A Preference for Solitary Jobs
Maybe you thought that people with Schizoid Personality Disorder would be forced to change once they get employed.
Well, maybe it could. But most likely, it wouldn’t. It would just make life difficult for them. And they know it.
To avoid the pressure, they will look for jobs which will enable them be alone or with little human contact.
This means that jobs like those of security guards will be among the ones they prefer. These will mostly need very little interactions with other people.
If they are the technical kind, they may find themselves preferring jobs in labs and other forms of research. They might also prefer a job like that of a data analyst. Receiving data through email or retrieving it from the system for analysis provides a good work environment.
After the analysis, they make a report and send it via email. Little human interaction. That’s what they prefer and getting it is good for them.
As the below video shows, people who prefer little human interaction have pretty good choices for solitary jobs.
CAUSES OF SCHIZOID PERSONALITY DISORDER
The cause of this mental condition is unknown. However, research has shown that there is a connection between the condition and genetics.
In people who have close relatives suffering from the condition, chances are high that they might also have it. This points to a possible hereditary condition.
Although this has not been verified, the connection has been observed.
The presence of two other personality disorders have also shown to contribute to the occurrence of Schizoid Personality Disorder in a person. These are Schizotypal personality disorder and Schizophrenia.
There are also connections between the condition and upbringing. Some factors during someone’s upbringing could contribute to their chances of having Schizoid Personality Disorder.
If they were neglected by their parents in any way, that could increases the chances of developing SPD.
Neglect could be in the form of being abandoned or having parents who didn’t respond to their emotional needs.
HOW IS SCHIZOID PERSONALITY DISORDER TREATED?
Schizoid Personality Disorder can be treated though it’s not easy. The biggest challenge is that patients are often undecided on the matter of seeking treatment.
People with this disorder have grown to be comfortable with their condition. They don’t see it as posing any danger to them or affecting them in any big way.
In any case, haven’t they managed to live without closely relating with others? So what’s the big deal?
They may therefore prefer to avoid the change which treatment seeks to bring.
For those who decide to get treatment, a challenge may be in developing a close relationship with the therapist.
A close relationship with the therapist is necessary for any therapy to be successful. The good thing here is that if they have decided to undergo therapy, they may be willing to make the effort.
Apart from individual psychotherapy, group therapy is also an option. This can in fact be the best option for some. It may be part of the overall treatment or the only treatment provided depending on the patient’s needs.
Group therapy has been shown to help increase the social skills of those suffering from this condition. Being in the presence of other people suffering from the same condition as them helps in opening up.
A group setting provides an environment where they know that they are understood because the others are experiencing the same things.
It also provides a support base which they can contact any time they need help. They are also able to learn from others how to better manage the symptoms they experience.
Medication for Schizoid Personality Disorder
There is no medication specifically developed for the treatment of Schizoid Personality Disorder.
Any medication used as part of the treatment will most likely be medication for anxiety or depression.
Since anxiety and depression are common among those with SPD, medication can be used to deal with the symptoms of these conditions.
Medication is also given depending on an individual’s needs. Every treatment plan differs from patient to patient. Whatever is recommended for one patient may not be suitable for another.
It may therefore take time and require patience to examine the person and build a relationship with the therapist.
This is important though since it’s what will help the therapist understand the situation and the specific stressors behind the condition.
This will in turn help come up with the best treatment plan for the patient.
COMPLICATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH SCHIZOID PERSONALITY DISORDER
Schizoid Personality Disorder can cause other complications too. And as a personality disorder, complications are often mental.
Whenever one condition leads to another, life becomes more challenging. Normal functioning is affected and treatment gets more complicated.
When two different conditions occur at the same time, getting an accurate diagnosis becomes challenging, although still possible. More time is therefore required for a more thorough examination of the patient and understanding his family history.
Here are some of the complications which could develop due to the presence of Schizoid Personality Disorder.
An anxiety disorder is any of a group of mental conditions characterized by persistent feelings of anxiety. The key word here is persistent.
There is normal anxiety which is usually a part of everyday life. It may even motivate you to prepare for the future. Anxiety can also help you stay alert to avoid accidents e.g. when driving through traffic.
This anxiety is however not supposed to be persistent. When it doesn’t lift off, it becomes important to seek help.
Anxiety disorders affect many American adults.
For people with SPD though, anxiety comes in when they’re forced to be with people. This can happen at work, in case their jobs require constant or frequent human interactions. It can also happen during family gatherings e.g. on holidays.
The anxiety may cause a lot of discomfort, making them want to run away from the situation.
Symptoms of anxiety disorder include having muscle tension, persistent worry, poor concentration and sweaty hands.
Other Personality Disorders
Personality disorders can occur together. And when they do, both diagnosis and treatment become challenging.
This co-occurrence is usually more common in disorders belonging to the same category.
Personality disorders are classified into categories called clusters and there are three: A, B and C.
Schizoid Personality Disorder belongs to cluster A of the personality disorders. As such, the other personality disorders in the same cluster can occur at the same time.
- Paranoid Personality Disorder – this personality disorder is mainly characterized by a pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others. Someone who has this disorder sees people as being out to cause them harm. They will suspect others of trying to exploit or humiliate them.
Such a person can preemptively attack others because he sees them as threats. They hold grudges, are highly litigious and very jealous. They rarely confide in others and don’t develop close relationships.
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder – this disorder is more severe than the Schizoid disorder. Some symptoms of this include acute discomfort while in social environments and limitations in forming and sustaining close relations.
People with this disorder experience perceptual and cognitive distortions and also have odd beliefs. For example, they may see things which no-one else sees. They may believe that their thoughts have been stolen from their minds.
Although it’s normal for people to occasionally feel sad or be irritable, having a mood swing can be a symptom of a mood disorder.
People with SPD can easily have their everyday emotional state affected. Their mood will be inconsistent with their circumstances in such a way that their ability to function normally is affected.
Mood disorders are characterized by symptoms of depression (extreme sadness, feelings of emptiness and irritation) and mania (feeling extreme happiness).
There are many mood disorders. Some of them include:
- Major depressive disorder (depression) – causes long periods of extreme sadness
- Manic depression (Bipolar Disorder) – alternating cycles of depression (sadness) and mania (happiness)
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia) – an enduring and chronic form of depression
- Depression related to medical illness – depression caused by the effects of having other medical conditions
As with other personality disorders, Schizoid Personality Disorder affects a person’s ability to relate with others. This has the effect of limiting the life someone lives.
It’s important to learn remember the above symptoms so as to be able to understand such people when we meet them.
As long as they’re willing to undergo therapy, the condition can certainly be changed.
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