Schizoid personality disorder manifests itself as a chronic lack of emotion, lack of interest in relationships with others and a lack of motivation or ambition.
People who suffer from Schizoid personality disorder sometimes describe an inability to manufacture the kind of feelings they observe occurring naturally in others.
Despite the name similarity, Schizoid Personality Disorder is different from Schizophrenia and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. However, it does have an certain degree of comorbidity (or co-occurrence) with these disorders and with Avoidant Personality Disorder. Some individuals who suffer from Schizoid Personality Disorder have also been known to suffer from brief psychotic episodes.
Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) – The DSM Criteria
Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) is listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a Cluster A (odd or eccentric) Personality Disorder.
Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) is defined as:
A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
- Neither desires, nor enjoys, close relationships, including being part of a family.
- Almost always chooses solitary activities.
- Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person.
- Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities.
- Lacks close friends or confidants, other than first-degree relatives.
- Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others.
- Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity.
Does not occur exclusively during the course of schizophrenia, a mood disorder with psychotic features, another psychotic disorder or a pervasive developmental disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition.
A formal diagnosis of SPD requires a mental health professional to identify 4 out of the above 7 criteria as positive. Some people with SPD may exhibit all 7. Most will exhibit only a few.
Schizoid Personality Disorder Traits
The following list is a collection of some of the more commonly observed behaviors and traits of those who suffer from Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD). Note that these are not intended to be used for diagnosis. People who suffer from SPD are all unique and so each person will display a different subset of traits. Also, note that everyone displays “schizoid” behaviors from time to time. Therefore, if a person exhibits one or some of these traits, that does not necessarily qualify them for a diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder. See the DSM Criteria on this page for diagnostic criteria.
See the “Personality Disorder Attributes” page for much more information about a particular trait or behavior and some ideas for coping with each.
- Avoidance – The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.
- Belittling, Condescending and Patronizing – This kind of speech is a passive-aggressive approach to giving someone a verbal put-down while maintaining a facade of reasonableness or friendliness.
- Chronic Broken Promises – Repeatedly making and then breaking commitments and promises is a common trait among people who suffer from personality disorders.
- Circular Conversations – Arguments which go on almost endlessly, repeating the same patterns with no resolution.
- Cognitive Dissonance – A psychological term for the discomfort that most people feel when they encounter information which contradicts their existing set of beliefs or values. People who suffer from personality disorders often experience cognitive dissonance when they are confronted with evidence that their actions have hurt others or have contradicted their stated morals.
- Confirmation Bias – The tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.
- “Control-Me” Syndrome – This describes a tendency which some people have to foster relationships with people who have a controlling narcissistic, antisocial or “acting-out” nature.
- Denial – Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.
- Dependency – An inappropriate and chronic reliance by an adult individual on another individual for their health, subsistence, decision making or personal and emotional well-being.
- Depression – People who suffer from personality disorders are often also diagnosed with symptoms of depression.
- Dissociation– A psychological term used to describe a mental departure from reality.
- Sense of Entitlement – An unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.
- Escape To Fantasy – Taking an imaginary excursion to a happier, more hopeful place.
- Feelings of Emptiness – An acute, chronic sense that daily life has little worth or significance, leading to an impulsive appetite for strong physical sensations and dramatic relationship experiences.
- Hoarding – Accumulating items to an extent that it becomes detrimental to quality of lifestyle, comfort, security or hygiene.
- Identity Disturbance – A psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view
- Imposed Isolation – When abuse results in a person becoming isolated from their support network, including friends and family.
- Invalidation – The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.
- Lack of Conscience – Individuals who suffer from Personality Disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.
- Low Self-Esteem – A common name for a negatively-distorted self-view which is inconsistent with reality.
- Masking – Covering up one’s own natural outward appearance, mannerisms and speech in dramatic and inconsistent ways depending on the situation.
- Neglect – A passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of a dependent are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.
- “Not My Fault” Syndrome – The practice of avoiding personal responsibility for one’s own words and actions.
- Objectification – The practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.
- Pathological Lying – Persistent deception by an individual to serve their own interests and needs with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.
- Projection – The act of attributing one’s own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.
- Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia – The use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.
- Selective Competence – Demonstrating different levels of intelligence, memory, resourcefulness, strength or competence depending on the situation or environment.
- Stunted Emotional Growth – A difficulty, reluctance or inability to learn from mistakes, work on self-improvement or develop more effective coping strategies.
- Tunnel Vision – The habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.
Movies Portraying Schizoid Personality Disorder Traits
The Remains of the Day – The Remains of the Day is a 1993 Columbia Pictures Release, starring Anthony Hopkins & Emma Thompson which portrays the life of a head butler in an English Manor who manifests some of the traits of schizoid personality disorder.
The English Patient – The English Patient is a 1996 Miramax movie which portrays the life of a wounded World War II pilot who demonstrates schizoid traits and his relationship with his caretaker nurse.
SPD Support Groups & Links:
Schizoids.net – A support forum for schizoid people.