Personality Disorders

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What Is Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD)? (DSM Criteria + Diagnosis + Symptoms)

Posted by on 10 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: Mental Health, Personality Disorders

Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) is something that affects certain individuals on a social level, making them lack interest in doing and participating in social activities with others. Although I haven’t had the chance to write about personality disorders in the past, I figured that I’d share what I know and have learned about them based on my research. Keep in mind that schizoid personality disorder is not the same thing as schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder; they are completely different diagnoses so make sure that you get that straight.

What is the definition of Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Since I’m going to try to be as official as possible, I’m going to go by what the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) says regarding this personality disorder. It is located in Axis II, Cluster A if you want to get all technical with the terminology. Anyways, so how can we break down someone that has and is affected by schizoid personality disorder? What is the correct and legitimate definition?

Basically a person with schizoid personality disorder: consistently avoids socializing with others and has a restricted range of emotional expression as well as emotions in social settings. The onset can be at any age, but typically people develop schizoid personality disorder by the time they are an early adult.

Official DSM Criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder diagnosis:

*Note: Four or more of the following Schizoid personality disorder symptoms must be met for an official diagnosis.

1. Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
2. Almost always chooses solitary activities
3. Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person
4. Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities
5. Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
6. Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
7. Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affect

Additional requirements that must be met:

A person cannot be diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder if they are already dealing with a severe mental illness which may mimic or share similar symptoms. In other words, you cannot be diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder during a flare up of schizophrenia, a mood disorder like depression, another psychotic disorder, or a developmental brain disorder.

Your mental health professional must be able to rule out other things that could be causing similar symptoms. That’s why it’s really important to deal with someone that’s an expert so that you don’t end up overlooking any other general medical conditions that may have been left untreated.

Would you know if you had schizoid personality disorder?

Generally after reading the symptoms, most people with the condition aren’t at all ashamed to admit that they fit the symptoms perfectly. In other words, if you know that you have schizoid personality disorder (SPD), you will likely be conscious of it after you read what the symptoms are.

However, that doesn’t mean you should self-diagnose because you don’t want to overlook anything else. Therefore, it is always recommended that you go into a professional psychologist to take the proper personality disorder test to figure out what the underlying problem really could be. Self-diagnosis can be accurate in some cases, but generally professional confirmation is required by a specialist.

Difference between schizoid personality disorder and introversion

After reading the symptoms, you may be wondering what the difference between schizoid personality disorder and introversion is because they both seem to involve less contact with people. The truth is that someone who has schizoid personality disorder desires no social contact whatsoever, while someone who is an “introvert” still desires social contact, they just prefer to “recharge” on their own for awhile. Schizoids don’t want friendships, while introverts still maintain friendships; they are two completely different things.

Difference between schizoid personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder

There is some dispute between schizoid personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder. Avoidant personality disorders generally involve a different set of criteria compared to that of schizoids. The difference between the two is that avoidant personality disorders tend to avoid social interactions because they feel inadequate and are afraid that people are negatively evaluating them.

Most people that know about personality disorders would say that a person cannot be both schizoid and avoidant at the same time; that statement is up for debate though among professionals. I personally think that it would be rare to have a person who has both avoidant personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder – usually people have either one or the other, not a combination of both. If diagnosed with both on a test, that should raise some kind of red flag as to whether: A) The person answered honestly on the test and B) Whether there are other factors that aren’t being taken into account.

How schizoid personality disorder differs from schizophrenia and schizotypal personalities

There is a lot of confusion among the general public anytime there’s something mental health related dealing with the “schizo” prefix to a label. This is a huge problem and I personally wish that the labels wouldn’t have been given such confusing (dumb) names in the first place by the people that discovered them. Anyways, if you are a mental health professional, hopefully you are able to tell the difference between different words that start with “schizo.”

In my personal experience, most people seem to group them all under “schizophrenia.” And to the general public, instead of them understanding the proper definition, they tend to think of schizophrenia as dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). Anyways, I went off on a little tangent there, but I’m sorry, people need to pull their heads out of their asses and get the definitions right before they think they can play doctor.

Do everyone a favor and educate yourself on Schizoid Personality Disorder to raise awareness

Personality disorders differ from mental illnesses like schizophrenia because they deal with personality, which generally cannot be effectively treated through medication or therapy. If you read the definition at the top of the article about schizoid personality disorder, and look at the DSM criteria, you should get an idea of what it is and the general concept.

If you want to know how it differs from schizophrenia, look it up – schizophrenia involves positive (hearing things/seeing things) and negative symptoms (flat emotion); it’s different. Schizotypal personality disorder also has a different symptom set and generally involves odd thinking and unconventional (weird) beliefs.

Schizoid Personality Disorder Treatment and Prognosis

Although some individuals with schizoid personality disorder (SPD) may feel suicidal, the majority do not.  The majority of these people are self-sufficient and independent and just prefer solitary lifestyles.  Think of someone that could survive as a hermit without any social contact for long periods of time.  Most people would go crazy for socialization and crave social contact if they hadn’t talked to anyone for a long period of time, however, people with schizoid personality disorders would be perfectly content without social contact.

If people with Schizoid Personality Disorder want help getting treatment, they have a couple options:

  • Antidepressants – Known to help improve the mood and outlook for people with this disorder.  In some cases they are effective, while in others they do not improve the situation.  Generally, other options are advised first unless the person is really depressed.
  • Therapy – The right therapist can be very helpful for people with schizoid personality disorder.  However, they need to establish a level of trust with the SPD individual to make progress.  If they cannot establish a trustworthy relationship, it’s going to be tough to make progress.  Therefore, the therapist must have some good experience.
  • Socialization – Generally, if a person with Schizoid Personality Disorder wants to improve their situation and live a normal life, they need to recognize their symptoms, become conscious of them, and still make room for socialization.  Socializing is a basic human need to be part of a group and belong; if this need is not met, it can lead to a host of other problems.
The prognosis for these individuals is generally very good, they tend to be able to cope with their disorder just fine.  The kicker is though, most people with SPD fly under the radar so less is known about them than people with other personality disorders.  They tend to not have a lot of human contact and could be considered modern day “hermits.”

Updating the 4 Mind 4 Life Mental Health website

It’s been awhile since I last updated this website, but decided that I’m going to take the direction of the website towards mental health education as well as writing to try to help people’s lives. If you’ve been subscribed for awhile, I really have to apologize and say that I’m really sorry that I haven’t been updating on a regular basis. I’ve really had a lot of personal issues going on in my own life that needed to be addressed so I put this website on the backburner. However, after doing some thinking and soul searching, I’m going to try to help people the best I can with regards to mental health and illness here.