Schizotypal Personality Disorder

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

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

Description of Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is characterized by a need for social isolation. People with schizotypal personality are sometimes referred to as "loners" and have very few or no intimate relationships and often feel extremely anxious in social situations. They may react inappropriately or not react at all during a conversation or they may talk to themselves. Odd behavior and thinking, and peculiar beliefs, are also hallmarks of this personality disorder. They may engage in "magical thinking" by saying they can see into the future or read other people's minds. They may also experience paranoid thoughts; feelings of being harrassed or persecuted.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is considered a schizophrenia "spectrum" disorder. Many studies exist showing that individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorder look similar to individuals with schizophrenia on a very wide range of neuropsychological tests. Cognitive deficits in patients with Schizotypal Personality Disorder are very similar to, but somewhat milder than, those for patients with schizophrenia. On the other hand, Schizotypal Personality Disorder should not be confused with schizophrenia. People with Schizotypal Personality Disorder tend to have odd beliefs and behaviors, but they are not profoundly disconnected from reality and usually do not hallucinate. Hallucinations, delusions, and complete unawareness of reality are hallmarks of untreated or unsuccessfully treated schizophrenia.

The symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder usually appear in early adulthood and last throughout the person's lifetime.

Diagnostic Criteria for Schizotypal Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference)
  • odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with subcultural norms (e.g., superstitiousness, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, or "sixth sense"; in children and adolescents, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations)
  • unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions
  • odd thinking and speech (e.g., vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, overelaborate, or stereotyped)
  • suspiciousness or paranoid ideation
  • inappropriate or constricted affect
  • behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar
  • lack of close friends or confidants other than 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

Causes of Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Researchers believe there's a significant genetic component to Schizotypal Personality Disorder since there is an increased incidence in relatives of of people with schizophrenia.

While people with Schizotypal Personality Disorder, like patients with schizophrenia, may be quite sensitive to interpersonal criticism and hostility, there is no evidence that early childhood environment or parenting practices cause Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Rather, it appears to be a variant of schizophrenia that is primarily determined by genetic vulnerability or possibly impaired brain development.

For comprehensive information on schizotypal personality disorder 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. Matsui, M., Sumiyoshi, T., Kato, K., et al., (2004). Neuropsychological profile in patients with schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia. Psychological Reports, 94(2), 387-397.

APA Reference
Writer, H. (2009, January 3). Schizotypal Personality Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, October 20 from

Last Updated: July 5, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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