Schizoid disorder is a relatively rare personality disorder that affects around 3%-5% of the public. As part of the cluster A family of disorders, schizoid type personality disorder is marked by unusual or eccentric thinking and behavior. In the case of schizoid disorder, this comes out as a disconnection or sense of distance from other people. This limits the ability of people with the condition to form normal relationships with others, and it may occur alongside other disorders such as depression and paranoia.
What Is Schizoid Disorder?
Schizoid disorder is a personality disorder that drives people to avoid contact with others and to withdraw from social interactions other people consider normal. People with schizoid disorder often express a disinterest in making or keeping up social bonds, usually expressing a preference for being alone. The condition may make it difficult for people to pick up on social cues from others, and many report an inability to feel pleasure from associating with people in social settings.
Many people with schizoid disorder show physical signs of the condition. Often, people with this disorder show a limited range of emotional expression and may appear cold or indifferent to other people. It’s common for people with schizoid type personality disorders to refrain from dating, and they may even live alone or avoid sexual relationships altogether.
How Schizoid Personality Disorder Differs From Other Personality Disorders
Schizoid disorder shouldn’t be confused with other asocial or antisocial personality disorders. Unlike antisocial personality disorder, also called sociopathy, people with schizoid disorder generally know the difference between right and wrong, and they don’t generally show abnormal hostility or lack of regard for other people. The condition also differs from paranoid personality disorder, which is marked by fear of other people’s motives and the suspicion that others are plotting against the person. People with schizoid disorder aren’t necessarily paranoid or hostile but simply indifferent to social contact with others.
In many ways, schizoid disorder shows signs that can easily be confused with clinical depression. As with depression, people with schizoid disorder can be withdrawn and uninterested in the normal social activities other people enjoy, such as get-togethers and parties. A person may also suffer from schizoid disorder and depression at the same time, which complicates the diagnosis of both conditions. Unlike depression, however, schizoid disorder isn’t generally marked by a recent loss of interest. Instead, it’s often a lifelong disinterest in social interaction.
Possible Causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder
The cause of schizoid disorder isn’t known for sure. As with many personality disorders, it seems likely that people with schizoid type personality disorders develop the condition through a combination of genetics and life experience. A history of childhood trauma is very common among people who later develop a schizoid type condition.
Schizoid disorder most often develops during the teen years, when it may be mistaken for normal teenage moodiness or a passing phase. Researchers don’t know whether the disorder is triggered by hormonal changes during adolescence, the stress of being a teen or a combination of the two. Scientists have identified a number of factors that indicate a higher risk of developing schizoid personality disorder, including having a parent or other relative with a history of schizoid disorder, schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia. A childhood history of neglect, abuse, emotional distance from parents and other social disruptions are also indicated as possible sources of schizoid disorder.
Diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder
It can be difficult to diagnose schizoid personality disorder, not least because people with the condition often think there’s nothing wrong and may avoid treatment. As a result, schizoid disorder is frequently only found when the person seeks help for another condition, such as depression or social anxiety disorder. During the initial assessment, a doctor or mental health professional may ask directed questions to establish how likely it is the person has schizoid disorder.
Psychologists and psychiatrists who suspect schizoid disorder frequently ask about a person’s childhood history, the current state of their relationships and their work history to establish patterns that may indicate the condition is present. For schizoid disorder in particular, it’s common for therapists to work with family members to gain further insight into a person’s behavior and develop a more complete picture of how they operate in social settings away from the office environment.
After schizoid disorder has been diagnosed, the therapist works with the patient and their family members to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. This can be exceptionally difficult for people with schizoid disorder because they tend to rationalize their symptoms and are rarely motivated to seek treatment due to their overall lack of interest in others. Talk therapy is the most common approach to treatment, but it may be necessary to try several approaches to get the best response.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Unlike free-form psychoanalysis, CBT is a structured approach to talk therapy that focuses on specific goals and treatment milestones. In CBT, the therapist takes on the role of a trainer and helps the person getting treatment understand how their actions affect others. In treating schizoid disorder, the therapist may decide to focus on how the person perceives their relationships with other people and how the disorder negatively impacts their own life.
- Family therapy: It’s very common for people with schizoid disorder to get treatment at their family’s request rather than on their own. As a basis for treatment, family therapy tends to focus on how the person with the disorder is affecting the people closest to them with their behavior and emotional distance.
- Group therapy: It’s sometimes helpful to have group therapy away from close family members and friends. In this setting, many people with schizoid type personality disorders may meet and discuss their condition and treatment plans with each other. The accepting atmosphere group therapy provides may encourage openness and honesty, and it may help patients develop their social skills.
Coping Strategies for People With Schizoid Personality Disorder
Fortunately, people with schizoid disorder don’t typically have trouble functioning in society at large, even if they do lack personal connections with people. Coping strategies for this disorder tend to focus on education about the condition, with an emphasis on spotting common pitfalls and being more aware of how the disorder affects other people. Continued therapy, honest communication and an awareness of the social environment are some of the most productive ways people find to stay on top of their schizoid disorder.
Help Is Here
If you have trouble forming bonds with other people, the help you need isn’t far off. Contact Restore today to speak with a compassionate and understanding mental health counselor who can get you started on recovery.