Schizoid Personality Disorder

Full description of Schizoid Personality Disorder. Definition, signs, symptoms, and causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder.

Full description of Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD). Definition, signs, symptoms, and causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder.

Description of Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD)

People with a schizoid personality are introverted, withdrawn, and solitary. They are emotionally cold and socially distant. They are most often absorbed with their own thoughts and feelings and are fearful of closeness and intimacy with others. They talk little, are given to daydreaming, and prefer theoretical speculation to practical action. Fantasizing is a common coping (defense) mechanism.

Although they experience little anxiety, people with schizoid personality disorder can still see the difference between themselves and the rest of the world. One patient with SPD noted that he could not fully enjoy the life he has because he feels that he is living in a shell. Furthermore, he stated that his inability distressed his wife. According to Beck and Freeman, patients with schizoid personality disorders consider themselves to be "observers rather than participants in the world around them."

Schizoid Personality Disorder is relatively rare and is estimated to occur in just 1% of the population.

Diagnostic Criteria for Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD)

A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

  • neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
  • almost always chooses solitary activities
  • has little, if any, interest in having 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

Does not occur exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia, a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, another Psychotic Disorder, or a Pervasive Developmental Disorder and is not due to the direct physiological effects of a general medical condition. Note: If criteria are met prior to the onset of Schizophrenia, add "Premorbid," e.g., "Schizoid Personality Disorder (Premorbid)."

DSM-IV does say that a person with Schizoid Personality Disorder may feel sensitive to the opinions of others and may even feel lonely but cannot do anything about the loneliness due to the disorder.

Causes of Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD)

While scientists haven't found the causes of personality disorders, it is generally suspected that they result from a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors. Although people with Schizoid Personality Disorder do not have Schizophrenia, it appears that many of the same risk factors in Schizophrenia also apply to Schizoid Personality Disorder.

For comprehensive information on schizoid personality and other forms of personality disorders, visit the Personality Disorders Community.

Sources: 1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. 2. Merck Manual, Home Edition for Patients and Caregivers, last revised 2006. 3. Magnavita, Jeffrey J. (1997). Restructuring Personality Disorders: A Short-Term Dynamic Approach. New York: The Guilford Press. 4. Beck, Aaron T., M.D., Freeman, Arthur, Ed.D. (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: The Guilford Press.

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2009, January 3). Schizoid Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 19 from

Last Updated: July 5, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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