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Schizoid Personality Disorder: Treatment, Symptoms & Causes

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  • 0:00 Principles of Solitude
  • 1:22 What Is Schizoid…
  • 2:38 Behavioral Contradictions
  • 3:59 Diagnosis of SPD
  • 5:20 SPD Treatment
  • 5:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ron Fritz
In this lesson you will learn what Schizoid Personality Disorder is and how to identify it. You will also learn how the disorder is contrary to basic human behavior.

Principles of Solitude

Almost everyone has heard at one time or another of some reclusive mountain man who disappeared into the wilderness only to be found 10, 20, or even 30 years later. These men chose to abandon civilization and interpersonal connections and left all contact with the social world behind them. Contrary to the rules of social psychology, these individuals forsook involvement with literally everyone, instead preferring the company of their own solitude. These solitary individuals quite possibly sufferred from Schizoid Personality Disorder.

Social psychologists believe that group behavior is the motivation behind human actions. People have a need for belonging, understanding, controlling, self-enhancing, and trusting, and this drives their individual behaviors. However, some individuals don't appear to conform to the rules of social psychology. There are some people who appear to have no desire for intimate relationships, who shun interpersonal contact with others, and in general, prefer to be left completely alone. For someone with Schizoid Personality Disorder, his or her world is an island that only he or she inhabits. These individuals don't fit into any of the social molds that the rest of us so readily wear.

What Is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Put simply, individuals with Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) prefer spending time by themselves over being with other people. They appear to be socially inept and are often thought of as loners because they almost always choose activities or hobbies that don't require them to interact with others. Hand these individuals an activity they can do by themselves, leave them alone, and they are happy as a clam. Ask them to work on an activity that requires group effort and they will feel completely out of place and will usually participate as little as they can manage to get away with.

People with this disorder typically have little to no social skills. Additionally, they often lack any desire for sexual experiences or intimacy. For these reasons, individuals with Schizoid Personality Disorder usually have few friends, rarely date, and hardly ever marry. It is not uncommon for someone with this disorder to go through life without ever having sex with another person.

These individuals are typically indifferent to the approval or criticism of others and, for the most part, could care less what others think of them. They are generally emotionless, their facial features remain stoic regardless of the situation, and they rarely return facial gestures such as smiling.

Behavioral Contradictions

To best understand SPD, it's important to understand that the disorder's traits are contrary to basic human behavior. Famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, in an attempt to classify human needs, authored his Hierarchy of Needs. The purpose of the chart was to classify human needs by the priority people place on them.

Maslow believed that human nature requires people to fulfill certain needs and that lower-level needs must be met before they can turn their focus to the next level. Maslow reported that the lowest level was physiological needs and this level includes sleep, breathing, food, water, and sex. The next level is safety needs and this includes employment, shelter, family, and health. The third level is social needs and includes friendship, family, and intimacy. The fourth and fifth levels include higher-order needs.

Someone with SPD appears to be stuck in the two lowest levels of the hierarchy, physiological and safety needs, also referred to as basic or survival needs. The desire to move up the hierarchy, in terms of social and self-esteem needs, does not ever appear to be present. The result is that someone with Schizoid Personality Disorder feels empty and emotionless, with little to no desire to change his or her situation.

Diagnosis of SPD

The fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM-V, states that for a diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder to be made, the individual must demonstrate a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings. The DSM-V further states that four or more of the following must be present:

  1. Neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
  2. Almost always chooses solitary activities
  3. Has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person
  4. Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities
  5. Lacks close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
  6. Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
  7. Shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity

As with all other personality disorders, an individual must be 18 or older to be diagnosed with SPD. Additionally, the diagnosis may only be given when the traits are inflexible, maladaptive, and cause significant functional impairment. The DSM-V classifies Schizoid Personality Disorder as a Cluster A personality disorder.

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