All About Personality Disorders: Schizoid Personality Disorder #1

Personality Disorders – Introduction

          Personality Disorders are defined as a class of mental illness in which enduring and maladaptive behaviours, cognitions and internal experiences are characteristic, and are often distressing to the individual. The DSM-V lists 10 personality disorders, in three “clusters”. Cluster A is characterised by odd behaviours, Cluster B is characterised by dramatic, emotional or erratic behaviours, and Cluster C is characterised by anxious or fearful behaviour.

            One study looking at the rate of personality disorders in the general population estimated a rate of 10%, and this was based on 3 different countries data (Lezenweger, 2008). This varies depending on the specific disorder. Despite their high rate within the population, little is known about most personality disorder, both within the psychology community and the general public.

            This series of articles will look at a different personality disorder each article. They will look at the symptoms and diagnostic criteria, the possible causes, and the possible treatments of said disorder. Firstly, Schizoid Personality disorder will be examined (Cluster A), then Antisocial Personality disorder, followed by Borderline Personality disorder, Narcissistic Personality disorder (all Cluster B), and finally Dependent Personality disorder (Cluster C).

Schizoid Personality disorder

          Schizoid Personality disorder is characterized by a lack of interest in socializing and relationships in general. To get a diagnosis of Schizoid Personality disorder the person must fit four of the following criteria: 1) no desire or enjoyment from close relationships, 2) prefers sole activities, 3) little interest in sexual activities with others, 4) little pleasure for activities, 5) does not have close friendships, 6) praise does not affect them, 7) a flattened affect. Importantly these symptoms need to not be due to Schizophrenia, an affective disorder with a psychotic component, or a pervasive developmental disorder.

          Due to the complex nature of personality disorders, and the lack of research concerning them, little is known about the causes of these disorders. It is unlikely that any mental illness arises from one singular cause, and the same is true of personality disorders. A study in which the rate of Schizoid Personality disorder in twins was conducted by Torgersen (2000) and it showed that there was a level of genetic influence (0.29), however, as this number is not one, there must be other factors at play as well.

          Schizoid Personality disorder has been shown to be related to other mental illnesses, one study finding that Major Depressive disorder in adolescences strongly predicted Schizoid Personality disorder in later life (Ramklint et al., 2003), it could therefore be that either something about having Major Depressive disorder causes this increased risk of Schizoid Personality disorder, or it could be that a different factor causes both.

          It could also be that Schizoid Personality disorder is caused by the environment a foetus inhabits in the womb. Hoek et al (1996) examined rates of Schizoid Personality disorder in men who had been born during the Dutch Winter famine. It appeared that being exposed to famine, and thus having a lower quality of nutrition in the womb, increases the risk of developing Schizoid Personality disorder two-fold.

          Finally, it is not just biological factors that seem to increase the risk of this personality disorder developing. One study looking into social and environmental factors which increase the risk of Schizoid Personality disorder found that having a mother who was a perfectionist greatly increased the risk (Jenkins & Glickman, 1946).

            One of the positives of having a diagnostic system is the fact that a person’s diagnosis guides their treatment. Personality Disorders are no different, and there are a few treatments available for Schizoid Personality disorder. Due to the overlap in symptoms of Schizoid Personality disorder and Schizophrenia, often anti-psychotics are prescribed to deal with these symptoms.

          In terms of more therapy based approaches, socialisation therapy, and education in how to identify their emotions both positive and negative, have been shown to be effective. Bartak et al (2011) conducted a study investigating how psychotherapy effected the symptoms of those with cluster A Personality disorder, 8.8% of the sample had Schizoid Personality disorder specifically. They found that the therapies did improve symptoms of the group, however research looking at the effectiveness of therapy treatment on the symptoms of Schizoid Personality disorder alone is lacking, and future research should specifically look at the disorder alone.

            In conclusion, Schizoid Personality disorder is a serious personality disorder which affects people in a variety of ways. The causes are relatively unknown, but there are a variety of genetic, biological and environmental factors that have been implicated. And finally, research on treatment is fairly scarce, but it seems that a combination of mediation and psychotherapy can be extremely helpful.


Bartak, A., Andrea, H., Spreeuwenberg, M., Thunnissen, M., Ziegler, U., & Dekker, J. (2011). Patients with cluster a personality disorders in psychotherapy: an effectiveness study. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics,80(2), 88-99.

Hoek, H. W., Susser, E., Buck, K. A., & Lumey, L. H. (1996). Schizoid personality disorder after prenatal exposure to famine. The American journal of psychiatry.

Jenkins, R.L., Glickman, S. (1946). Common syndromes in child psychiatry: II. The schizoid child: A statistical analysis. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 16(2), 255-261.

Lenzenweger, M. F. (2008). Epidemiology of personality disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 31(3), 395-403.

Ramklint, M., Ramklint, M., & Ramklint, M. (2003). Child and adolescent psychiatric disorders predicting adult personality disorder: a follow-up study.Nordic Journal of Psychiatry57(1), 23-28.

Torgersen, S., Lygren, S., Øien, P. A., Skre, I., Onstad, S., Edvardsen, J., … & Kringlen, E. (2000). A twin study of personality disorders. Comprehensive psychiatry41(6), 416-425.

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