What is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

January 5, 2012
Schizotypal personality disorder, is characterized by self-imposed social isolation, odd behavior and thinking, and often unconventional beliefs. People with this disorder tend to be loners because their behavior is seen as disconcerting, or even disturbing, by others. Schizotypal personality disorder is a mental disorder marked by pervasive isolation, which means people who have the condition engage in few to no intimate relationships. To some extent, this remoteness is due to the extreme social anxiety that most people with schizotypal personality disorder experience which is more linked to distrust and an inability to communicate with others, than with possessing negative self image. SPD sufferers tend to seem themselves as outcast, and this isolation causes pain as they increasingly disengage from the world around them. As part of this apprehension, sufferers may believe that they are the center and cause of all events. For example, if someone laughs, a person with schizotypal personality disorder will assume that the laughter is directed AT them. But individuals with schizotypal personality disorder ALSO become isolated due to the off-putting behaviors they tend to display. For example, people with this disorder tend to ramble endlessly and oddly about topics unrelated to a conversation. Meanwhile, their speech is often garbled and hard to understand. People with schizotypal personality disorder may also harbor and discuss unusual, magical ideas such as a belief in telepathy or paranoia and distrust around certain individuals or groups, like newscasters or police. They may dress in peculiar ways and have very strange ways of viewing the world around them. Often they harbor unusual ideas, such as believing in the powers of ESP or a "sixth sense." At times, they believe they can magically influence people's thoughts, actions and emotions. And often, SPD sufferers demonstrate flat, listless emotions and mannerisms. Symptoms of schizotypal disorder can be easily confused with those of schizophrenia, which is characterized by a severe loss of contact with reality or psychosis. People with schizotypal personalities, however, may experience brief psychotic episodes with delusions or hallucinations, which are not as pronounced, frequent or intense as in schizophrenia. Another key distinction between schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia is that people with the personality disorder can usually distinguish between their distorted notions and reality. Those with schizophrenia typically cannot be swayed from their delusions. Like most mental illnesses, schizotypal personality disorder is believed to stem from a combination of genetics and environment. Rates of schizotypal disorder are much higher in relatives of individuals with schizophrenia than in the relatives of people with other mental illnesses or in people without mentally ill relatives. Individuals who come from a background of childhood abuse, neglect, or trauma are also more likely to suffer from schizotypal personality disorder. Schizotypal personality disorder typically begins in early adulthood and may endure throughout life. There's no cure for schizotypal personality disorder, but psychotherapy and some medications may help. Some research suggests that positive childhood experiences may help reduce symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder in affected young people. Psychotherapy for schizotypal disorder is oriented towards helping the patient develop more appropriate social skills, and changing the thought patterns that lead to their debilitating social impairment and distorted thinking. Because people who have schizotypal personality disorder often suffer from another disorder, like depression or anxiety, they may ALSO benefit from prescription medication that treats those symptoms. While these prescription drugs are not CURES for schizotypal personality disorder, they can still be very effective for managing symptoms. So if you believe someone in your life is affected by this condition, please make an appointment to speak with a medical professional!
Last Updated:
July 16, 2012