Schizotypal Personality Disorder is the name of a Personality Disorder that is characterised by extreme social anxiety, disturbed thoughts, paranoia, and sometimes elements of Psychosis and subsequent unconventional beliefs.The disorder is part of the ‘Odd and Eccentric’ cluster of personality disorders. People with Schizotypal Personality Disorder rarely engage with others, mainly because they think others have negative feelings towards them – causing them to avoid them. Individuals with this disorder often have paranormal beliefs. This article provides a general look at this disorder.
A person with Schizotypal Personality Disorder will typically:
- Struggle to make friends, especially close friendships.
- Exhibit anxiousness in social situations.
- Disturbed thoughts.
- Feel paranoid – including feeling that other’s don’t like them.
- Use unusual phrases or words in everyday conversations.
- Considered to be ‘odd’ by others.
- Behave in ways that could be perceived as eccentric – including how they dress.
- Have paranormal beliefs, or believe they have the ability to read minds or a ‘sixth sense.
- Ruminate excessively.
- Sometimes experience some of the symptoms of Schizophrenia.
Schizotypal personality disorder is believed to be on the ‘Schizophrenic Spectrum’ – meaning it is related to Schizophrenia. This does mean an individual with a family history of Schizophrenia is likelier to develop this personality disorder. While genetics play a part, social and environmental factors also appear to play a part. Some studies suggest parenting styles, neglect, trauma and family dysfunction can all contribute to greater risk in developing the disorder. Some children will struggle to process and respond to social cues when exposed to trauma or neglect. This disorder is generally poorly researched, due to its similarity with the more-researched Schizophrenia.
If you suspect you have a personality disorder, it is generally advisable to see your GP. This personality disorder often causes Depression. It is likely that your GP will refer you to a specialist. This specialist will perform a diagnosis – which will involve asking you several questions about your condition and the impact it has had on your life. Generally, the clinician will use guidelines from the American Psychiatric Association to confirm a diagnosis. There has been some controversy over its suitability for making a diagnosis. The guidelines define the disorder as ‘a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behaviour, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts’. A diagnosis can generally be made if five of the following factors are present.
- Suffering from ideas of reference – when an individual believes innocuous events have strong meaning to them – and is related to their own destiny. An example would be that a headline in a newspaper is secretly communicating something to them.
- Strange beliefs such as thinking they have magical powers.
- Abnormal perceptual experiences.
- Strange thinking and speech.
- Inappropriate or constricted affect – such as a lack of emotions.
- Strange behaviour or appearance.
- Lack of close friends.
- Excessive social anxiety.
Individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorder usually fall into a state of Depression or Anxiety – and then seek treatment. The disorder is normally treated with a combination of therapy and medication. The therapy is normally a form of Psychotherapy. The therapy will attempt to restructure the thoughts and feelings of a patient, and attempt to lessen their anxiety. The disorder is difficult to overcome, but with the right clinician-patient trust and a concerted effort from both parties, an improvement can take place. However getting the patient to accept therapy can be difficult. Sometimes medication can be used. For patients who suffer from paranoia and unusual beliefs, a low dose of an antipsychotic can be used. For patients who suffer from obsessive-compulsive behaviours as part of the disorder, an antidepressant is normally used.
Other Personality Disorders:
- Paranoid Personality Disorder
- Schizoid Personality Disorder
- Schizotypal Personality Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
- Avoidant Personality Disorder
- Dependent Personality Disorder