What is schizoid personality disorder, what is the relative contribution of genes and environment in its development, and what is the prognosis?
This condition is not as well understood as many other mental health conditions; this is, in no small part, due to the fact that those with the disorder often do not feel that there is anything particularly wrong with them that warrants psychiatric attention, and, furthermore, would not wish to invite such attention.
However, we do know that the condition occurs at a greater frequency amongst men than amongst women; we also know that it is likely to have a genetic component (because individuals related to schizophrenics – a different, but related, condition – are more likely to suffer from schizoid personality disorder than others). We know, too, from the evidence so far accumulated, that it is also probable that there are environmental contributory causes to the condition, specifically, a childhood in which the individual was shown little affection, warmth (either verbally or physically), and generally subjected to emotional neglect.
Those with the condition are frequently described by laymen as ‘loners’, ‘misfits’, ‘odd’, ‘peculiar’ etc. The schizoid personality stays aloof from others, likes to remain emotionally unattached, and, therefore, has very little interest indeed in pursuing interpersonal relationships.
This solitary nature is reflected, too, in their choice of hobbies and activities – invariably, the schizoid personality will select ones that can be undertaken alone.
Often, the person with a schizoid personality disorder will be able to function reasonably well in society – however, any job the individual holds down is unlikely to involve much interaction with others.
Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder :
– distant/aloof/emotionally detached from others
-displays very little emotion
-often has rich and complex inner fantasy life
-problems relating to others/feel little desire to interact with others
-likely to seek out work that is as solitary as possible (assuming the individual is functioning well enough to work)
-chosen hobbies/activities likely to be those that may be undertaken in solitude
-no close friends
-not close to members of own family (nor has a desire to be)
-derives little pleasure from life
-low sex drive
Because those suffering from schizoid personality disorder rarely seek out help from professionals, little is known about which therapies may be of help to them. However, it is unlikely that ‘talk-based’ therapies would be useful due to the fact that those with a schizoid personality feel uncomfortable interacting with others, especially if the interaction relates to personal issues.
According to the current evidence, it appears that the symptoms of schizoid personality disorder can be difficult to treat. Reasons for this include the fact that often those who are suffering from the condition are frequently not motivated to seek treatment and, if they do, often find it difficult to form a healthy, therapeutic relationship with their therapist. Furthermore, ‘talk-based’ therapies may not be useful due to the fact that those with a schizoid personality feel uncomfortable interacting with others, especially if the interaction relates to personal issues.
However, for those who do wish to undertake therapy, a specially tailored form of cognitive-behavioral therapy can help individuals modify dysfunctional thinking and behaviors.
If one-to-one therapy is successful the person undergoing treatment may be able to move on to group therapy and, within the group, interact with others to learn, practice, and develop interpersonal skills which may ultimately enable him/her to live a richer, more emotionally connected, and less socially isolated. life.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).