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Schizoid personality disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has a lifelong pattern of indifference to others and social isolation.

Alternative Names

Personality disorder - schizoid

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Cause of schizoid personality disorder is unknown. This disorder may be related to schizophrenia and shares many of the same risk factors.

Schizoid personality disorder is generally not as disabling as schizophrenia. It does not cause the disconnection from reality (in the form of hallucinations  or delusions) that occurs in untreated (or treatment-resistant) schizophrenia.

Symptoms

A person with schizoid personality disorder often:

  • Appears aloof and detached
  • Avoids social activities that involve emotional intimacy with other people
  • Does not want or enjoy close relationships, even with family members

Signs and tests

Schizoid personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation that assesses the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

People with this disorder rarely seek treatment, thus little is known about which treatments work. Talk therapy may not be effective because persons with schizoid personality disorder may have great difficulty forming an effective working relationship with a therapist.

One approach that appears to help is to put fewer demands for emotional closeness or intimacy on the person with this condition.

People with schizoid personality disorder often do well in relationships that do not focus on emotional closeness. They tend to be better at handling relationships that focus on work or intellectual activities and expectations.

Expectations (prognosis)

Schizoid personality disorder is a long-term (chronic) illness that usually does not improve much over time. Social isolation often prevents the person from seeking the help or support that might improve the condition.

Limiting expectations of emotional intimacy may help people with this condition make and keep connections with other people.

References

Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psyhchiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2008:chap 39.

Updated: 11/10/2012

David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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