The words “schizoid” and “schizophrenia” have the same root, which in Greek means “cleavage. However, it is impossible to identify these concepts. The former is used both to characterize a personality characterized by a withdrawn character and to describe a disorder. The second is psychopathology. In this article, we will learn what the similarities and differences between them are.
In ordinary life, people often use the word “schizoid” to describe a person’s behavior. As a rule, some mental abnormality is attributed to him in such cases. However, schizoid is a type of personality that psychiatrists and psychologists use to identify certain patterns required when working with clients and patients.
A schizoid personality disorder is no longer a characteristic of a person or their behavior but a pathological condition included in the ICD-10 classification. It describes an emotionally cold and alienated person who tends to delve deeply into their fantasies.
This disorder occurs in about 3-5% of people. Scientists have studied it for a long time and give various definitions, including or excluding it from the spectrum of schizophrenic disorders.
There was a time when these two phenomena were considered in the context of one disease. There is indeed a connection between them, but today the term “schizoid disorder” is used exclusively to describe the syndrome and therefore is not identified with schizophrenia.
Schizoid personality type
Schizoids are often called freaks. They are characterized by the prevalence of thinking processes over emotional ones. They communicate little with people, and when they try to contact someone, they fail because they are embarrassed, ashamed, and feel out of place.
Schizoids spend most of their time alone, play unusual sports, and spend a lot of time reading books and fantasizing. They may learn ancient languages, complicated sciences, or other things that most people would find boring or unnecessary.
Despite their aloofness and emotional coldness, schizoids are vulnerable. However, situations that can arouse a lot of emotion in other people seem uninteresting to schizoids, which is why they show their indifference. And it is not contrived but sincere.
The opinion of others does not interest schizoids. Sometimes they can be naive, but they are almost always honest. They are eager to build relationships and communicate with others but don’t know how or fear getting attached. They also have lower levels of libido. However, this does not mean that the opposite sex does not interest them.
Such personalities can lead a full life, not all developmental disorders. However, some regularities can still be seen. For example, schizophrenia in 44% of cases is detected exactly in schizoids. At first, a person can develop a schizoid disorder, which can transform into schizophrenia if there is no treatment.
The exact causes of schizoid disorder are difficult to identify. Usually, medics talk about disabling factors. These include:
- Congenital, genetically determined characteristics;
- Environmental factors – upbringing, social status, etc.;
- Attitudes of parents to each other, to the child;
- Psychological trauma, violence, loneliness, and stress.
Such a disorder is poorly understood when it comes to its etiology. During diagnosis, doctors try to identify the trigger that provoked the first symptoms. Often this helps to stop the development of the disease.
The previously listed signs of a schizoid personality type, when dominant and total, when they prevent a person from living a full life, working, and building relationships with other people, can become symptoms of schizoid disorder. It is just that in this case, they will be more intense. They will trace a pathological condition that requires medical intervention.
Depending on the specific clinical case of schizoid disorder, the following symptoms may be observed:
- A weak level of empathy;
- Secluded lifestyle;
- Reluctance to form social connections;
- Retreat into a fantasy world;
- Eccentric behavior;
- Wearing very conspicuous clothing;
- Low sexual activity.
Men with schizoid disorder tend to lack a sense of humor and appear to be hardened bachelors. They may go to work and socialize with people, but they do not enjoy it. They spend most of their time alone.
At the same time, they retain the ability to understand other people’s emotions, which, for example, autistic people do not. Schizoids are simply afraid of attachment and therefore are unwilling or afraid to establish close contacts. Clear personal boundaries are established if they manage to start a relationship. After a breakup, such people are much more upset than many others.
In women, schizoid disorder occurs twice as rarely as in men. Representatives of the fair sex in this context are highly contradictory. On the one hand, they feel completely self-sufficient but also need a constant partner. They appear cold and devoid of emotion, but inside they are bright, deep, impulsive people prone to fantasies.
Often schizoid women refuse to get married and choose impersonal sexual intercourse without infringing on their inner self.
Signs of schizoid disorder usually appear at the age of 4-6 years. Practice shows that children who become schizoid refuse the mother’s breast earlier, avoid hugs, do not go to the arms, etc. In this, a certain protective mechanism is manifested. Later there will be more manifestations of schizoids.
If parents ignore such symptoms in the child, he may develop mental retardation due to a lack of contact and communication.
Children with preconditions for a schizoid personality disorder are often anxious and worried for no reason, choose quiet and quiet games, and like to draw and read books. In the company, they keep apart. Get along well with animals.
A child schizoid is trying to get rid of teaching early and begin to lead an independent life. For this purpose, they can put more emphasis on studying quickly to find a job later.
In cases where some symptoms begin to dominate and their intensity increases, specialist help is needed, as there is a risk of developing more serious illnesses, including schizophrenia or schizotypal disorder.
The American psychologist T. Millon distinguished the following stages in the development of schizoid disorder:
- Sluggish. In contrast to depressive disorder, it is characterized by inertness, low cachet, phlegmatic, apathy, etc.
- Distant. Reminiscent of schizotypal disorder, with anxiety features. Closeness and desire for self-isolation are also observed.
- Depersonalized. Traits of split personality emerge. You may often hear from the person the following phrase: “It is as if all this is not happening to me, but someone else.
- Emotionless. The person becomes very reserved and uncommunicative. He is seen as cold, unresponsive, and even lifeless.
There are two phases of schizoid disorder. During the first, associated with decompensation, the level of social communication decreases. During the second, called the compensation phase, the person functions in a society like other people, but with his “oddities” that don’t bother him or others much.
Differences between Schizoid Disorder and Schizophrenia
Schizoid disorder has similarities with schizophrenia only in part of the latter’s negative symptomatology. These include withdrawal, loneliness, apathy, lack of initiative, etc. Similar symptoms are observed in people with the sluggish form of schizophrenia and its other varieties before the onset of an attack.
As for the differences between schizoid disorder and schizophrenia, there are many. In general, the former is not characterized by the typical latter signs. We are talking about delusions and hallucinations. Moreover, the schizoid is aware of his problems, understands his difficulty contacting society, analyzes himself, and reflects. A person with schizophrenia, even with bad behavior, usually considers himself normal.
It is also worth distinguishing schizoid disorder from schizotypal disorder, in which the person is not just withdrawn but practically does not communicate with people. A schizoid, in any case, has a small circle of communication, although it may consist of one person, such as a mother. At the same time, in schizotypal disorder, the patient completely cuts off contact. Also, his behavior is more eccentric, and even mild paranoid ideas are possible.
Thinking and other cognitive functions are not affected by schizoid disorder.
During diagnosis, it is important to rule out schizoaffective disorder, which manifests itself in a state of psychosis. In this case, hallucinations and delusions are possible, and the person begins to degenerate as a person. Many symptoms can be seen from the outside, especially delusions of persecution, jealousy, etc. The development of psychosis leads to more and more bizarre behavior. In most cases, hospitalization is required.
When diagnosing, it is important to differentiate between disorders because of the similarity of many symptoms. For this purpose, many tests are carried out using various clinical scales. It is necessary to get information from the patient, whose feelings are too subjective, and his environment. In some cases, collection of an anamnesis from the patient’s relatives is required.
Standard laboratory and instrumental methods are also prescribed, including CT scans, MRIs, EEGs, etc. Thyroid hormone tests are collected. It helps to rule out pathologies of the endocrine system, brain lesions of an organic nature, depression, etc.
Many specialists believe that schizoid personality disorder does not need to be treated with medications and procedures prescribed, such as schizophrenia. However, consultations with a psychotherapist or psychologist do not hurt. A person must understand all the internal problems that prevent him from interacting with the outside world.
After this, you can try to adjust certain traits or compensate for them with other traits. The therapist aims for the patient to draw the necessary conclusions and change his behavior. It is rather difficult to impose something on him since schizoids, in principle, are not very receptive to other people’s opinions.
Schizoids are straightforward; they seem rude and cannot take hints, sarcasm, or flirting.
In extreme cases, the person is prescribed psychotropic drugs, among which antipsychotics are preferred. As a rule, they are necessary to prevent psychosis or eliminate its first appearance symptoms.
Schizophrenia is diagnosed for life. The person has to undergo treatment and prevention for the rest of their life, even if they have only had one attack in all that time. Schizoid disorder is much easier. It seldom imposes on the schizoid any restrictions connected with a profession, sports, or personal life. However, the disorder should not be unchecked, especially at a child’s age. There is a risk of developing complications, including:
- Suicidal ideation and attempts;
- Schizotypal disorder;
- Classical schizophrenia;
- Obsessions and compulsions;
- Alcoholism and drug addiction;
- Phobias and panic attacks.
Socially, problems such as divorce, layoffs, family conflicts, etc., are possible.
However, it is worth noting that schizoid disorder, even without treatment, does not always lead to complications. It’s just that the person falls into a risk group for schizophrenic spectrum disorders. But he may live a relatively comfortable life without complications.
Schizoid personality disorder is viewed from a variety of perspectives. It is of interest to psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and other specialists studying human behavior and his inner world. Medical professionals are often guided by international standards, such as the ICD-10. They allow for a unified approach to solving the problem.
Psychiatric disorders are multifaceted. It is dangerous to make diagnoses without having the knowledge and experience to do so. If you notice relative behavioral oddities in your child or an adult, do not ignore them, but consult a specialist to begin therapy as early as possible, if necessary.