Schizoid personality disorder: Causes, symptoms, and treatments

Schizoid personality disorder is a condition that causes a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of emotions in interpersonal settings. Someone with schizoid personality disorder typically will avoid social interaction and others may perceive the person with schizoid personality disorder as odd or cold or unfeeling.

Schizoid personality disorder symptoms are complex in nature—meaning that its causes, as well as its treatment options, vary widely. This condition is also different from schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, and schizotypal personality disorder. 

While living with this condition can be challenging at times, mental health treatment can greatly improve the long-term mental health, stability, and wellbeing of those with schizoid personality disorder.


What Are the Characteristics of Schizoid Personality Disorder?

People with schizoid personality disorder may display the following characteristics:

  • Unresponsive to person-to-person cues or interactions with smiling, nodding, showing engagement, or other emotional expressions when interacting with people socially. 
  • Struggles with expressing or showing anger, even when frustrated internally
  • Seems passive in their responses to changes in circumstances, such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or perhaps the end of a relationship

Individuals with schizoid personality disorder experience these feelings of detachment in a variety of contexts, which are indicated by at least four of the following:

  • They don’t want (or enjoy) close relationships.
  • They almost always choose independent activities. 
  • They have little to no interest in becoming sexually active with another person.
  • They don’t take pleasure in many or any activities.
  • They lack close loved ones other than immediate relatives.
  • They are unmoved by praise or criticism.
  • They show consistent emotional detachment and/or coldness.

If these symptoms occur only during the course of another psychotic or personality disorder, or can be attributed to the effects of another medical condition, then schizoid personality disorder is likely not the cause.

What Are the Five Big Symptoms of Schizoid Personality Disorder?

The five most notable symptoms of schizoid personality disorder typically include appearing blunted (uncaring), emotionally flat, isolated, disengaged, and passive

What Best Describes Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Schizoid personality disorder is best described as someone who is largely disinterested in interpersonal relationships and who exhibits withdrawn, isolated, or odd behaviors and responses. Those with the disorder might make certain statements to others, such as, “Everything seems so dull,” and, “There is no point,”when referring to interacting with other peopltreatme

Someone with schizoid personality disorder might struggle to express their emotions and relate to others, too—creating unbearable loneliness, despite their conflicting desire to be in solitude. 

Often, people with schizoid personality feel content with being in their own company and might feel as if there is no point to interacting with people, due to their difficulty experiencing joy or closeness from social engagement.

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What Is the Schizoid Character Structure?

A person with schizoid personality disorder has often been labeled as the character of the “unwanted child.” A person that is caught in the schizoid character structure may have a lot of fear or reluctance in engaging with the outside world. There is often a significant amount of reluctance to engage in any sort of activity that involves social interaction or relationship building.

This can create an intense internal battle between a desire to conform to societal expectations for socializing and a deep need for long periods of solitude.

What Causes Schizoid Personality Disorder?

It’s believed that schizoid personality disorder is caused by a mixture of: 

  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Traumatic events and exposure to abuse
  • Neglect
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals, such as pesticides and lead-based paint products

Schizoid traits may be first noticed in childhood and/or adolescence, as marked by isolation, a lack in friendships, and poor performance at school. These experiences and obvious differences in behavior may put the child at greater risk of being bullied or teased, compounding the negative effects of schizoid personality disorder symptoms.

Do People with Schizoid Personality Disorder Have Feelings?

Although a person who has schizoid personality disorder may appear emotionless, they do have feelings. Often, their emotions are welling up from underneath.

These emotions often are internalized, wanting to be released or expressed, but individuals with schizoid personality disorder often struggle with knowing how to navigate and express these intense feelings.

What Are Schizoids Afraid of?

People with schizoid personality disorder may be afraid of the difficult experiences inherent in closeness with others, or of being abandoned, among many things. They may find it easier to live life alone without having to tolerate experiencing and participating in social connection in a deep or meaningful way.

Not knowing how to cope with their self-conscious thoughts, including processing judgment from others and contending with their need for more alone time than most people, may also feel scary to those with schizoid personality disorder.

Are All People with Schizoid Personality Disorder Narcissists?

Not at all people with schizoid personality disorder exhibit narcissistic traits. Actually, most of the time those schizoid personality disorder symptoms do not have the trademark characteristics that most narcissistic personalities do. 

What they do share in common is that both narcissistic and schizoid personalities are likely to hide their need for dependency on other people. But from here, they head in different directions. 

Someone with schizoid personality disorder symptoms will avoid engaging socially with others, while someone with narcissistic personality disorder will seek others out. 

Narcissistic individuals are more likely to be

  • Ambitious
  • Braggadocious 
  • Exploitative of others for their personal gain and be competitive
  • Self-serving
  • Manipulative

In comparison, those with schizoid personality disorder may hold the view that they have no place in the world. They are often overwhelmed and irritated by stimuli from crowds, people, places—situations which have a lot of movement, activity, and sound are typically not their forte. 

What Do Individuals with Schizoid Personality Disorder Often Tend to Do?

People with schizoid personality disorder often tend to keep to themselves. They may also:

  • Feel confused about their place in the world
  • Feel disconnected from people
  • Be indifferent to praise from others
  • Lack close friends, socially isolate
  • Have a limited range of emotions 
  • Have little to no desire to be in an intimate partner relationship due to low sex drive

Individuals with schizoid personality disorder may react to new situations by secluding themselves and avoiding social interaction, creating personal, professional, and developmental issues in all periods of life.

Differential Diagnosis: Possible Conditions That May Appear Similar to Schizoid Personality Disorder

Someone may demonstrate a few symptoms of schizoid personality disorder—but it doesn’t mean they have the condition. Some of the mental health conditions that might be mistaken for schizoid personality disorder include: 

  • Autism spectrum disorder: It can be rather difficult to differentiate autism spectrum disorder from schizoid personality disorder. But it can be distinguished due to autism’s more severe symptoms of impaired social interaction and stereotyped behaviors.
  • Personality change due to another medical condition: Another medical condition may cause similar symptoms to emerge in an individual.
  • Substance use disorders: Substance use and abuse can also cause similar symptoms and must be distinguished from those of schizoid personality disorder.
  • Other personality disorders: Many other personality disorders are characterized by the same features. Therefore, it is important to pay close attention to the differences in order to make an accurate diagnosis. It is possible for multiple diagnoses to be made, if an individual’s features and symptoms meet criteria for more than one personality disorder. 
  • Abnormal personality traits: Sometimes certain individuals simply prefer to be alone. Schizoid personality disorder should only be considered if this or other related traits cause functional impairment or subjective distress.

Schizoid Personality Disorder Treatment

Sometimes individuals with schizoid personality disorder prefer dealing with their problems on their own or only with the help of their family. Despite this common preference, there are multiple schizoid personality disorder treatment options for these individuals:

  • Psychotherapy or talk therapy: This form of therapy can help you develop better, closer relationships with your friends, family members, and beyond. Therapists understand your difficulties, are great listeners, and will help you work through your problems at a pace you feel comfortable with.
  • Group therapy: Individuals with schizoid personality disorder can help one another or those with similar issues to practice better interpersonal skills. Group therapy can also provide an individual with a strong support system.
  • Medication: There is not a specific medicine used to treat schizoid personality disorder, as the symptoms vary in intensity and nature. However,Certain medications, such as SSRIs and other commonly used psychiatric medications, can support symptom reduction. 

For those who are struggling without schizoid personality disorder treatment, talk with a psychiatric provider or therapist for more insight into the nature of this condition. They’ll provide you with access to the treatment options that can alleviate your symptoms.

Table of contents

What Are the Characteristics of Schizoid Personality Disorder?

What Best Describes Schizoid Personality Disorder?

What Is the Schizoid Character Structure?

What Causes Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Do People with Schizoid Personality Disorder Have Feelings?

What Are Schizoids Afraid of?

Are All People with Schizoid Personality Disorder Narcissists?

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  • Martens, W, et. al (September, 2009). Schizoid personality disorder linked to unbearable and inescapable loneliness. Schizoid personality disorder linked to unbearable and inescapable loneliness. Retrieved June, 2023
  • Velikonja, T, et. al ( July, 2019). Severe childhood trauma and clinical and neurocognitive features in schizotypal personality disorder. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved June , 2023
  • Brown, A, et. al (December 2012). The environment and susceptibility to schizophrenia. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved June 2023
  • Zandersen, M, et. al (January, 2019). Identity Disturbance, Feelings of Emptiness, and the Boundaries of the Schizophrenia Spectrum. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved June, 2023
  • Geiser, F, et al (January, 2000). Schizoid and narcissistic features in personality structure diagnosis. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved June, 2023

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  • Originally published June 13th, 2017

    Author: VT

  • Updated June 13th, 2023

    Author: Jason Crosby

    Expert Author: Christine Ridley, LCSW

    Reviewer: Kate Hanselman, PMHNP

    Updates: Completely rewrote this article. New H2s and h3s. Keyword phrases from SEO brief, and sought clinical review from PMHNP. Sources list added, as well.

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