What is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is characterized by a long-standing pattern of social isolation, distorted thoughts or sensations, and eccentric behavior. This pattern begins no later than early adulthood, and for many, onset may be as early as childhood.

Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder

In order to officially diagnose this personality disorder, the person must demonstrate at least five of the following:

  • Ideas of reference — These are irrational beliefs that random things are somehow directly related to them. It’s sort of a combination of being a little paranoid and self-conscious at the same time. For example, they tend to assume that people are talking or laughing about them when they are not.
  • Odd beliefs or magical thinking — They may believe that they possess special powers to cause things to happen with their thoughts or actions. For example, they might believe that standing outside in the rain will cure cancer or that they can make the wind blow by thinking about a windmill. They may be fascinated with the paranormal or, in contrast, they might be highly superstitious.
  • Unusual perceptual experiences — This means that the individual perceives things that others don’t. They might “sense” that someone is sitting next to them even though no one else can see anyone there. They might see, hear, or feel things that others do not.
  • Odd thinking and speech — The individual might be very vague, or they might overelaborate. They might communicate with bizarre metaphors, or their comments might seem illogical, like they don’t all fit together. They may seem to have strange ideas or they might use words that seem unusual, such as “greenable” or “off-est.”
  • Suspiciousness or paranoid ideation — The person may constantly suspect that others are out to get them. They may be preoccupied with conspiracy theories and may always seem to distrust people and agencies. They tend to both believe and expect the worst in others.
  • Inappropriate or constricted affect — They are terribly uncomfortable and awkward in social situations, and their facial expressions may seem all wrong. They may have a completely inappropriate expression for the situation at hand — they may smile when someone else is in pain or scowl when something great happens. Or they may seem to have no facial expressions at all.
  • Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar — They may dress in clothing that doesn’t match or fit properly, or they may put on articles of clothing that don’t seem logical for the occasion. Their mannerisms may seem unusual and this often makes others uncomfortable or irritated.
  • Lack of close friends — This means that they have very few, if any, lasting relationships. They may not have any interest in developing friendships or romantic relationships and are viewed by others as a “loner.”
  • Extreme social anxiety — Individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorder avoid social situations and they don’t like to interact with other people. It makes them extremely uncomfortable, and this does not diminish with familiarity. In other words, it doesn’t get easier after they get to know someone. This is often due to paranoid fears about the true colors of others. It is not generally related to having a negative self-image but rather a negative, distrustful image of others.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is not a form of schizophrenia. They are two completely different diagnoses, although they may have certain symptoms in common. Sometimes individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorder later develop schizophrenia, but this is not the case with everyone.

Schizotypal is a Cluster A personality disorder. Diagnostic criteria is derived from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, fifth edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association.

For more information on personality disorders in general, as well as the various other types that exist, please visit Personality Disorders Archives – Navigating Life (juliebailey.net) and Get Help With Personality Disorders (psychiatry.org).

Published by Julie Bailey, LCPC

I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois. I hold a master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I'm an author and a clinical manager and my life goal is to help you live your best life possible. I get excited about the daffodils in the spring and the colorful leaves in the fall (I mean like ridiculously excited). I enjoy genealogy, old cemeteries, loud music, and trivia, and I refuse to ever outgrow Harry Potter. I am an empath, which means that I literally feel the pain of others, and from time to time, this requires a visit to a quiet beach so that the wind and waves can soothe my soul.

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