Writings from Christine

Understanding Schizoid Personality Disorder

by on April 19, 2016

The name “schizoid” was coined in the early 1900’s. Yet it is not similar to schizophrenia, schizoaffective, or schizotypal. Rather, it is closer in identity to avoidant personality disorder with many of the same characteristics and traits but adds the element of a blunt affect. Perhaps the best definition of a schizoid is a person who pulls away from others and their own emotions or feelings thereby creating flat emotionless responses.

So what is Schizoid Personality Disorder? Well, according to the DSM-V, here is the technical definition:

  • A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning in early childhood 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 confidents other than first-degree relatives.
    • Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others.
    • Shows emotional coldness, detachment or flattened affectivity.

The practical definition looks more like this:

  • Prefers being alone rather than with others, not interested in making friends.
  • Little desire for perusing or experiencing any sexual relationship.
  • Unable to experience pleasure, excitement or passion.
  • Comes off as dull, callous, impersonal, emotionless, and apathetic.
  • Feels unmotivated to do activities even when they seem interesting.

What does this look like in person? Remember Anthony Hopkins portrayal of the head butler in “Remains of the Day”? This is an excellent example of a schizoid. The head butler focused on his job over all social encounters and disappeared into the background seamlessly. Even when pressed about his feelings, he was unable to communicate them or show any real emotion. This was not just proper job training for a butler; it was an aspect of his personality.

So how do you deal with a person who might be schizoid? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Because they won’t talk much, don’t expect a lot of feedback. A little goes a long way.
  • They are not likely to go to lunch or engage in talks over the water cooler so don’t force it.
  • They will seem odd or indifferent in most social or work environments but they are comfortable with that so it won’t do any good to point it out or try to force them to be something they cannot be.
  • Emotional reasoning won’t work because they aren’t in touch with their own feelings let alone the feelings with others. Rather logical reasoning will work.
  • They are very comfortable being alone so don’t engage or try to force them to talk during awkward silence. Most likely the only one uncomfortable with the silence is you, not them.
  • One of the greatest mistakes a person can make is that their silence means agreement. It does not! While this might be true for most of the population, this is not true for schizoids.
  • They generally need time to process decisions so give them deadlines for feedback. Don’t leave a decision open-ended or you will never get the input needed from them.

If you find that you are in a relationship with a schizoid, get some counseling advice to manage your levels of exhaustion. Their silence and blunt affect can be very frustrating especially for a person who likes to engage in conversation and is not afraid to show appropriate emotions. Schizoids are capable of wonderful relationships but you need to understand their natural limitations and not have expectations that contradict with their abilities.

Posted under: Personality Disorders Writings from Christine

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