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Schizoid personality disorder

Definition

Schizoid personality disorder is a psychiatric 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

The causes of schizoid personality disorder are unknown. This disorder may be related to schizophrenia and it shares many of the same risk factors.

However, schizoid personality disorder is not as disabling as schizophrenia. It does not cause hallucinations, delusions, or the complete disconnection from reality that occurs in untreated (or treatment-resistant) schizophrenia.

Symptoms

A person with schizoid personality disorder:

  • 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

Like other personality disorders, schizoid personality disorder is diagnosed based on a psychological evaluation and the history and severity of the symptoms.

Treatment

People with this disorder rarely seek treatment, and little is known about which treatments work. Talk therapy may not be effective, because people with schizoid personality disorder have difficulty relating well to others.

However, 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 better in relationships that do not focus on emotional closeness. They are better at handling relationships that focus only on recreation, work, or intellectual activities and expectations.

Expectations (prognosis)

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

Limiting 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: Mosby Elsevier;2008:chap 39.


Review Date: 11/14/2010
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and David B. Merrill, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiary, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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