Schizotypical personality disorder occurs in about 3% of the general population, being slightly more common in males. It is regarded by mental health professionals as occurring in the middle of a spectrum of related disorders, with Schizoid personality disorder at one end and Schizophrenia at the most severe end. It is more common amongst those people who have first degree biological relatives with Schizophrenia.
It usually appears in childhood or adolescence and sufferers are characterised by being loners who prefer to keep their distance from others and have difficulty in maintaining relationships. They sometimes exhibit odd speech or behaviour and have a limited range of flat emotions. Often these symptoms will cause the child to appear odd or eccentric and attract teasing.Individuals with this personality disorder may also experience brief psychotic episodes which can develop into Brief Psychotic Disorder or Schizophrenia. They are also at an increased risk for major depressive disorders and other personality disorders such as Schizoid, Paranoid, Avoidant and Borderline. Treatment is often sought for the associated symptoms of anxiety and depression etc, rather than for the disorder itself.
Signs & Symptoms:
- A belief that unrelated events are related to them in a significant way
- Odd beliefs, bizarre fantasies and magical thinking that influences behaviour and is not consistent with subcultural norms. (The DSM IV lists, as an example of these odd beliefs, belief in telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance or sixth sense. Many of my readers will disagree with this definition.)
- Unusual perceptual experiences such as voices murmuring their name, or strange body illusions
- Odd thinking and speech e.g. vague, over elaborate, metaphorical or stereotyped
- Excessively suspiciousness or paranoid ideas
- Flat affect or emotions e.g. a reduced range and intensity of emotion
- Behaviour or appearance that is odd, eccentric or peculiar e.g. unusual mannerisms, avoiding eye contact
- Lack of close friends or confidants other than first degree relatives
- Excessive social anxiety that doesn’t diminish with familiarity and is associated with paranoid fears
Individuals with Schizotypical personality disorder are reclusive, oversensitive and eccentric and tend to be egocentric. Symptoms form a pattern of social and interpersonal defects which lead to a reduced capacity to form close relationships. Sadly, they never master the ability to communicate clearly with other people and tend to drift through adult life aimlessly and unproductively. Treatment, as previously mentioned, is usually sought only for associated problems such as depression, which may be helped by psychotherapy and/or medication.