Schizoid Personality Disorder is characterized by ongoing detachment, lack of desire for relationships, and a restricted range of emotions. It can be easy to confuse this disorder with other mental health diagnoses with similar names — schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, or schizotypal personality disorder. All of these have certain symptoms in common, but this article will describe the characteristics of Schizoid Personality Disorder specifically.
Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder
Individuals with Schizoid PD will have a persistent pattern of detachment from social relationships and will generally appear emotionless. This generally begins in adolescence or young adulthood. For someone to be diagnosed with this personality disorder, they must demonstrate at least four of the following:
- Neither wants nor enjoys having close relationships, even with family.
- Prefers to do things alone and almost always chooses solitary activities.
- Little or no desire for sexual experiences.
- Experiences very little pleasure, if any, in activities.
- Lacks close friends, confidants, and romantic partners.
- Seems indifferent to both praise and criticism from others.
- Seems to be emotionally “cold” and detached; there may be a lack of facial expressions.
Interacting with an Individual with Schizoid Personality Disorder
It can be very challenging to interact with someone with this disorder because they tend to have little, if any, interest in engaging in conversations. We often view these individuals as “loners” because they prefer to keep to themselves and avoid people in general. They may not talk much, and there may be very little eye contact. They tend to prefer hobbies, careers, and games that they can do alone, and they are often especially talented in the areas of mechanical or abstract tasks, math, and computer skills.
Individuals with Schizoid Personality Disorder very rarely show any emotion. They don’t tend to get excited about anything, and they also don’t tend to get angry about anything. When something adverse happens, they don’t have emotional reactions like others might. They may be viewed as cold and uncaring because of their lack of emotion.
Their response to lavish compliments or rude insults is generally the same — flat. They don’t pick up on social cues or subtle hints. If you nod, wave, or smile at them, they may not return the gesture, and they genuinely care very little about what anyone thinks of them. Because they prefer to be alone, they usually have very few friends and often never marry.
They tend to have reduced pleasure in activities that others usually enjoy. This includes everything from walking on a beautiful beach at sunset to having sex. Because they cannot truly enjoy things, they often just opt out of doing them. We tend to misunderstand and think they are just being shy, and we may worry that they are lonely. In reality, though, they often truly prefer to be left alone. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is not pressure them to participate in social situations. If you invite them and they decline, try to understand from their perspective. They simply may not be able to enjoy the activity like you do. In fact, it might seem absolutely horrible to them.
Other Related Disorders
Having Schizoid Personality Disorder is not the same as having schizophrenia, but sometimes this personality disorder can proceed a later diagnosis of schizophrenia or delusional disorder, especially if the person begins to experience psychotic episodes. Schizoid Personality Disorder is not the same as autism either, but they may seem similar, especially in regard to difficulty with social interactions and lack of emotion. But they are different in several ways — autism generally begins in childhood and is marked by stereotyped behaviors and interests which are not present in Schizoid Personality Disorder.
Individuals with Schizoid Personality Disorder may sometimes also develop major depressive disorder, and they often have additional personality disorders (PDs) as well. The most common are a combination of Schizoid PD with Schizotypal PD, Paranoid PD, or Avoidant PD.
For more information on other personality disorders, please visit http://www.juliebailey.net or the American Psychiatric Association: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/personality-disorders
Diagnostic criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder has been taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, fifth edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association.