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Eugen Bleuler first used the term “Schizoid” in 1908 and described it as “…a human tendency to direct attention toward one’s inner life and away from the external world”. Schizoid Personality Disorder (SPD) is characterized by a lack of interest in any form of social relationship, a solitary lifestyle, and secretness. People with SPD are often indifferent, which can cause interpersonal difficulty. Individuals with the disorder may have trouble voicing their opinions when faced with unfavorable situations, and most often remain passive about many issues. Communication with others can be awkward and lack sincere meaning. As a result, they are not able to accurately understand how others think of them, and know how well they are getting along with others. This can lead to a feeling of severe self-consciousness and paranoia.
Schizoid Personality Disorder:
The Nature of Schizoid Personality Disorder
The American Psychiatric Association (2008) reports that the prevalence in the general population of schizoid personality disorder (SPD) in the general population is less than 2%. Other studies have found a community prevalence of 5.1% in the United States. There is an increased prevalence of schizoid personality disorder in relatives of people with schizophrenia, as well as those who have been sexually abused as a child. The DSM classifies Schizoid Personality Disorder as:
“A. A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood (age eighteen or older) and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
Neither desires nor enjoys relationships or human interaction, 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 with other people
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 affect
B. 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.” Though there are several methods of treatment, most doctors suggest a short-term therapy/medication treatment, as long term can be difficult for the patient to remain motivated to continue returning and having unwanted social interaction. Seeing a psychologist allows the patient to open up and possibly become more comfortable with interpersonal communication, enabling a more personable identity. Those with SPD may demonstrate a vivid and wild fantasy life, and attain hobbies according to such.
Things like video games, drawing, photography, and other solo activities are what interest SPD victims the most. Someone with SPD doesn’t go out to social events, have intimate relationships, or even have many friends. Social interaction like that just isn’t appealing to patients with SPD. They may never live a completely normal life with friends, a spouse, and other people to communicate with. However, this does not mean they aren’t happy. People with Schizoid rarely ever describe their life as “dull” or “boring”. Some patients tell of the immense pleasure they receive when making a job well done and finishing their work. Many are workaholics, and pour their heart and soul into every step of their careers. People with SPD are much more of a benefit to our society than some people may realize. Without the constant distraction of friends, relationships, and social events, they are able to concentrate on the task at hand.
Whether it be a career or a simple arts and crafts project, concentration and focus go uninterrupted and can lead to a job very well done. I chose this topic because I had no idea what it was, and I wanted to learn more about it. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Over the last few weeks I have been constantly studying this disorder and trying to get into the mind of someone with SPD. At first, it seemed hopeless. I couldn’t seem to understand the idea of not having friends, or having never had a girlfriend. Social interaction like that had always been given in my life, and I couldn’t imagine doing without. After further thought, however, I came to the conclusion that not only did they not want a physical relationship with others, they felt no need.
If one can become completely content without the attention of others, then why bother yourself with the distraction? Though I haven’t personally spoken with someone with SPD, this is how I understand it. I feel as though they not only have no desire, they feel no need. Simple as that. A case study I found involved a middle-aged man named Mark and a peek into his life. He tells of his career, hobbies, and relationship with his family. ““Mark sits where instructed, erect but listless. When I ask him how he feels about attending therapy, he shrugs and mumbles “OK, I guess”. He rarely twitches or flexes his muscles or in any way deviates from the posture he has assumed early on. He reacts with invariable, almost robotic equanimity to the most intrusive queries on my part. He shows no feelings when we discuss his uneventful childhood, his parents (“of course I love them”), and sad and happy moments he recollects at my request.
Mark veers between being bored with our encounter and being annoyed by it. How would he describe his relationships with other people? He has none that he can think of. In whom does he confide? He eyes me quizzically: “confide?” Who are his friends? Does he have a girlfriend? No. He shares pressing problems with his mother and sister, he finally remembers. When was the last time he spoke to them? More than two years ago, he thinks.He doesn’t seem to feel uneasy when I probe into his sex life. He smiles: no, he is not a virgin. He has had sex once with a much older woman who lived across the hall in his apartment block. That was the only time, he found it boring. He prefers to compile computer programs and he makes nice money doing it. Is he a member of a team? He involuntarily recoils: no way!
He is his own boss and likes to work alone. He needs his solitude to think and be creative.That’s precisely why he is here: his only client now insists that he collaborates with the IT department and he feels threatened by the new situation. Why? He ponders my question at length and then: “I have my working habits and my long-established routines. My productivity depends on strict adherence to these rules.” Has he ever tried to work outside his self-made box? No, he hasn’t and has no intention of even trying it: “If it works don’t fix it and never argue with success.”If he is such a roaring success what is he doing on my proverbial couch?
He acts indifferent to my barb but subtly counterattacks: “Thought I’d give it a try. Some people go to one type of witch doctor, I go to another.”Does he have any hobbies? Yes, he collects old sci-fi magazines and comics. What gives him pleasure? Work does, he is a workaholic. What about his collections? “They are distractions”. But do they make him happy, does he look forward to the time he spends with them? He glowers at me, baffled: ” I collect old magazines.” – he explains patiently – “How are old magazines supposed to make me happy?”. ””
As clearly demonstrated above, this patient displays no interest toward others socially. Though he has had an intimate relationship in the past, his concentration now pertains to his work and his sole hobby of collecting magazines. A workaholic, he prefers to work in solitude, as that is the only way he can think and be creative. His disbanded relationship with his family shows that even those supposed to be most important in ones life hold little to no importance. A seemingly uneventful life of routine is made enjoyable by his passion and innovation for his career.
Without the distraction of social relationships, he is able to connect with his work and focus at a higher level. SPD not only allows for a better concentration level, it enables the patient to think more clearly, and with a better focus. As stated above, his life is almost completely centered around his career, something he seems to be rather proud of. Taking pleasure in his job lets him feel comfortable with his lifestyle and content with the choices he has made.
In two separate studies, prisoners were examined on the validity of SPD. 556 male jail inmates in the United States participated in Study 1; 175 mentally disordered offenders in maximum security hospitals in the United Kingdom participated in Study 2. On both studies, scores on the Interpersonal Measure of Schizoid Personality Disorder (IM-SZ) showed reliability and patterns of correlations with other measures consistent with expectations. The scale displayed patterns of relatively specific correlations with interview and self-report measures of SZPD. In addition, the IM-SZ correlated in an expected manner with features of antisocial personality and with interpersonal behavior.
In another study, 10 male individuals diagnosed with SPD were placed in a room together. Their behavior was recorded and later compared to an experiment under the same circumstances only with 10 seemingly normal men. The test subjects with SPD did not interact with one another for an entire half hour, until one of the men fell out of his chair and one of his colleagues helped him to his feet. This was a blind experiment, where the men involved did not know the others suffered from the same ailment. The men in the control group were quiet at first, but after the first 5 minutes they were all communicating with one another, talking about sports, family, and relationships.
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