Schizoid Personality Disorder – Is it Different than Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a commonly known chronic and severe mental disorder.

It affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.

People suffering from the disorder look like they have lost touch with reality.

And while schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, people make the mistake of thinking all mental disorders are actually schizophrenia[1]

Schizoid personality disorder falls into the same tough spot as well.

People with this disorder rarely feel there is anything wrong with them.

The symptoms are similar to schizophrenia, which is why many make the mistake between the two.

Definition of the disorder

When you look at the term of the disorder, the word “personality” describes deeply ingrained behavior patterns and the way individuals perceive themselves, relate to, or think about the world.

Personality traits are enduring patterns of perceiving and thinking about the environment.

A personality disorder has the characteristics of an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates from the expectations of the culture.

With that in mind, a person with a schizoid personality disorder has a pattern of indifference to social relationships, and a limited range of emotional experiences and expressions[2]

The disorder manifests by early adulthood through social and emotional detachments[3]

These prevent people from having close relationships.

And while people with the disorder are very much able to function in everyday life, they will not develop meaningful relationships with others.

Usually, people with schizoid personality disorder are loners, and are prone to excessive daydreaming and forming attachments to animals.

They excel at solitary jobs that others find intolerable.

What are the symptoms?

Man with Schizoid Personality Disorder

Men are more likely to have the disorder than women.

People with schizoid personality disorder maintain contact with reality [4]

But they do manifest other symptoms.

  • Do not desire or enjoy close relationships, including with their family
  • Rarely take pleasure in any activities
  • Appears aloof and detached
  • Almost always chose solitary activities
  • Lacks close relationships other than with immediate relatives
  • Indifferent to both praise and criticism
  • Shows emotional coldness
  • Acts detached
  • Avoid sexual activities that involve significant contact with other people
  • Show little or no interest in sexual experiences with another person
  • Exhibits little observable change in mood

What causes and how to diagnose?

The cause of the schizoid personality disorder is not known.

However, some factors like genetics and environment play a role in the development.

According to some mental health professionals, a bleak childhood where warmth and emotion were absent vastly contributes to the development of schizoid personality disorder.

There is a higher risk for the disorder in families of schizophrenics [5]

The same risk factors that contribute to schizophrenia contribute to development of the disorder. But it is worth noting that patients with a schizoid personality disorder do not have schizophrenia.

In order to diagnose the disorder, a health care professional will perform a psychological evaluation.

The doctor also gives personality tests and questionnaires to be filled in order to make a proper diagnosis.

What are the treatment options?

So far, little research has been done on the treatment for SPD.

That is because people with the diagnosis rarely seek treatment.

They also do not experience loneliness or compete with envy or envy people who enjoy close relationships.

They rarely seek treatment, which is why little is known about how and which treatments work.

Talk therapy may not be effective, because patients with SPD have difficulty relating well to others.

Two options that are often considered are medications and psychotherapy.

Medications are rarely recommended for patients with SPD, because they only treat symptoms, not the root of the problem.

They are usually used as a short-term treatment of extreme anxiety states.

Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is a long-term therapy option.

However, the patient and the doctor must establish a long-term level of trust, which is the biggest challenge.

As the relationship develops, the patient can start to reveal imaginary friendships and terrors of dependency.

And while psychotherapy is a long-term solution to the problem, it should not be pursued for a prolonged period of time.

Therapy should focus on simple treatment goals to alleviate current pressing concerns.

Group therapy is also an option, but it is problematic since patients with a schizoid personality disorder do not prefer group activities.

How is it different than schizophrenia?

As mentioned previously, SPD is not the same as schizophrenia or other disorders, like schizotypal personality disorder [6]

However, there is evidence of links and shared genetic risk between SPD and another cluster A personality disorders  [7]

Therefore, SPD is considered to be a schizophrenia-like personality disorder.

The two disorders have similar symptoms.

The main difference is people with SPD are not detached from reality, while schizophrenia patients seem like they’ve lost touch with reality.

They do not experience paranoia or hallucinations, something that is common in schizophrenia patients.

People with SPD make sense when they speak, but the tone may not be lively.

That means they do not have the conversational patterns that are strange and hard to follow, another common symptom of schizophrenia patients.

When to see a doctor?

The problem with schizoid personality disorder patients is that they rarely seek treatment.

And when they do, they seek treatment for a related problem, not the main condition.

For example, they seek treatment for depression, but not for their disorder.

Therefore, people that suspect that someone shows patterns and symptoms of SPD, urge them to make an appointment with a healthcare or mental health care professional.

If you suspect a loved one may have a schizoid personality disorder, be gentle in your suggestion for medical attention.


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