Schizoid vs Schizotypal Personality Disorders
Schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders are two distinctly different personality disorders that are often confused because they sound alike. Learn the differences here.
By: Britt Brewer
Clinically Reviewed By: Don Gasparini Ph.D., M.A., CASAC
February 22, 2023
Table of Contents
Understanding the difference between personality disorders is one significant aspect of de-stigmatizing mental health. These disorders in particular are often confused, lumped together, or mischaracterized – contributing to the discriminatory attitudes surrounding them.
By more thoroughly grasping the complexity of personality disorders, people can develop greater empathy for large swaths of the population who suffer from acute mental health issues.
Schizoid and schizotypal are two personality disorders that are sometimes confused because they sound similar, and both are part of the “schizophrenia spectrum” of disorders.
Both are categorized as Cluster A personality disorders in the DSM-5.
In some cases, the terms “schizoid” and “schizotypal” may be used informally or incorrectly in public discourse to describe individuals who are perceived as aloof, eccentric, or socially isolated.
However, there are significant differences between schizoid personality disorder (SPD) and schizotypal personality disorder (STPD) regarding their diagnostic criteria, symptoms, and impact on functioning.
In 2013, the DSM-5 changed its approach to diagnosing personality disorders by introducing a dimensional approach, evaluating personality traits along a continuum of severity, rather than dividing them into discrete categories.
Let’s take a moment to understand the symptoms of both disorders, starting with schizoid personality disorder
What is schizoid personality disorder (SPD)?
Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) is a type of personality disorder characterized by a persistent pattern of detachment from social relationships, and a restricted range of emotional expression in interpersonal relationships.
The DSM-5 defines schizoid personality disorder with at least four of the following criteria:
- Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family.
- Almost always chooses solitary activities.
- Has little interest in sexual experiences with another person.
- Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities.
- Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives.
- Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
- Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity.
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What is schizotypal personality disorder (STPD)?
Schizotypal personality disorder is a mental health condition that’s usually identified through patterns of unease and discomfort with close, interpersonal relationships. People living with STPD often convey distorted beliefs, maintain a loose perception of reality, and are superstitious.
The DSM-5 defines by at least five of the following criteria:
- Ideas of reference (i.e., belief that unrelated events or situations have a special and personal meaning)
- Unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions
- Uneven thinking and speech (e.g., vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, over-elaborate, or stereotyped)
- Suspiciousness or paranoid ideation
- Inappropriate or constricted affect (i.e., lack of emotional expression or inappropriate affect in social situations)
- Lack of close friends or confidants outside of first-degree relatives
- Excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.
- Odd beliefs and magical thinking, with behaviors inconsistent with societal norms.
- Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric or peculiar.
Schizotypal personality disorder can be challenging to diagnose in teenagers because many of the symptoms can be part of normal adolescent development and may not necessarily indicate the presence of a personality disorder.
But, the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder in teenagers are similar to those in adults, including unusual behavior or appearance, cognitive or perceptual distortions, suspiciousness, anxiety in social situations, among others.
What is the schizophrenia spectrum?
The schizophrenia spectrum of disorders is a group of psychiatric conditions that share certain features with schizophrenia, including cognitive, emotional, and perceptual abnormalities.
This group of disorders is often recognized through a wide range of behaviors, such as social isolation, odd behavior, and cognitive or perceptual distortions.
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The disorders in the schizophrenia spectrum include:
A severe mental illness identified through symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and catatonic behavior.
Schizotypal personality disorder
A personality disorder displayed by uneven beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, as well as social isolation, anxiety, and perceptual distortions.
A mental illness that features symptoms of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder.
A mental illness characterized by fixed, false beliefs that are not consistent with cultural or social norms.
Brief psychotic disorder
A mental illness often identified through sudden and brief episodes of psychotic symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech or behavior.
Though these disorders share many common symptoms of schizophrenia, they present distinct differences in their symptoms, onset, and ongoing course.
Schizoid and schizotypal personality disorder in the media and culture
There has been increasing awareness and recognition of personality disorders in general in recent years, including through public education campaigns and media coverage. However, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders are often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media and popular culture. These disorders are part of the broader category of personality disorders and are characterized by difficulties in forming and maintaining social relationships, as well as unusual beliefs and behaviors.
In the media, individuals with schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders are often portrayed as “crazy” or “psychotic,” which can contribute to stigmatization and negative attitudes towards those with these conditions. Moreover, many movies and TV shows depict people with these disorders as violent or dangerous, which is not accurate and further perpetuates misconceptions.
It is essential to note that individuals with these disorders can live normal, productive lives with the right support and treatment. While people with schizoid personality disorder tend to prefer solitude and are less interested in social interactions, those with schizotypal personality disorder often experience odd beliefs and ideas, such as magical thinking or paranoia.
To reduce the stigma and promote a better understanding of these disorders, it is crucial to educate ourselves and others about their symptoms, causes, and treatments. Seeking help from a mental health professional is essential for a proper diagnosis and the development of an effective treatment plan.
What sets these personality disorders apart?
Schizoid personality disorder and schizotypal personality disorder-related personality disorders are classified in the same diagnostic category/cluster in the DSM-5.
These disorders are distinct unto themselves, and shouldn’t be lumped together as one condition.
Here are the biggest differences between these two disorders, categorized:
People living with schizoid personality disorder have a limited desire for social relationships, whereas those with schizotypal personality disorder have a desire for social relationships but struggle with social interaction due to their eccentricities.
People living with schizoid personality disorder have a limited range of emotions and may appear cold or detached, while individuals with schizotypal personality disorder may display inappropriate or unusual emotions.
Beliefs and perceptions
People living with schizoid personality disorder do not typically experience unusual beliefs or perceptual experiences, whereas those with schizotypal personality disorder may experience magical thinking, unusual beliefs, or perceptual distortions.
People living with schizotypal personality disorder may experience significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning, while those with schizoid personality disorder may function reasonably well in these areas, despite their social isolation.
What are the treatment options for schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders?
There is no specific cure for schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders, but treatment can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.
Treatment options include:
Antipsychotic medications can help manage symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations, whereas antidepressant medications can also be prescribed to treat anxiety and depression.
Involving family members in treatment can help improve communication and support for the individual with schizotypal personality disorder.
Group therapy or social skills training can help individuals with schizotypal personality disorder improve their social skills and communication abilities.
Supportive services such as case management, vocational training, and housing assistance can help individuals with schizotypal personality disorder live more independently and improve their quality of life.