Shizo-What? Part II

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: I was just looking at a list of mental disorders. Some sound alike. What is the difference among Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Answer: Last week I stated that within the above listed disorders are two distinct categories—Mental Illnesses and Personality Disorders. Also, last week I described the differences among the major mental illnesses—Schizophreniform Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Schizoaffective Disorder. This week, I will describe the personality disorders you have noted in your question—Schizoid Personality Disorder and Schizotypal Personality Disorder.
Personality disorders are clusters of behaviors that are defined as “an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the culture of the individual who exhibits it”. These behavioral patterns are nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption. Personality disorders are inflexible and pervasive across many situations, and are, therefore, perceived to be characteristic of that individual. Generally, these behavior patterns include, or are associated with maladaptive coping skills, which in turn result in personal problems.
Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency towards a solitary lifestyle, secretiveness, and emotional coldness. It is sometimes characterized by sexual apathy, but at the same time the individual may experience a rich internal sexual fantasy world. Schizoid Personality Disorder is not the same as schizophrenia. However, both diagnoses share some similar characteristics, such as detachment or blunted affect. Also, there is an increased prevalence of the disorder in families that have other members diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Most individuals diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder have difficulty establishing personal relationships or expressing their feelings in a meaningful way, and they may appear emotionally apathetic in situations that are not likely to result in the individual’s favor. Their verbal interactions with others tends to lack color and expression. Also, they seem unable to assess how well they are getting along with others.
There are no known causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder, except the relationship with Schizophrenia.
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by a need for social isolation, anxiety in social situations, odd behavior, and eccentric beliefs. The diagnosis is widely accepted as being on the “Schizophrenia spectrum.” Like Schizoid Personality Disorder, it is more commonly found among relatives of individuals with schizophrenia than among relatives of people in the general population.
A diagnosis of Schizotypal Personality Disorder can be differentiated from Schizoid Personality Disorder by the presence of cognitive or perceptual distortions, and marked eccentricity or very odd behavior.
Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected].