In society there are all kinds of people and, therefore, personality is something that occurs in a very variable way , presenting all kinds of features with greater or lesser intensity in the population.

However, there are some people whose personality stands out above what is considered normal and even causes them some kind of harm, bordering on or entering fully into psychopathology.

Personality disorders are various, being divided into three clusters: A, B and C. In this article we will differentiate two of those found in cluster A, which are schizoid disorder and schizotypal personality disorder.

Because of their name, it’s easy to confuse them, in addition to assuming that they have some relationship to schizophrenia.

Although in both disorders those who suffer from it are characterized by not being very socially adapted, in addition to drawing attention above the rest, the truth is that they have several fundamental differences . Let’s see what they are.

Schizoid disorder and schizotypal disorder – what are they?

Schizoid disorder and schizotypal disorder are two disorders included within the group of personality disorders. These two disorders are included in cluster A of personality disorders, along with paranoid disorder, characterized by a bizarre and eccentric pattern of thinking and behavior.

Schizoid and schizotypal disorders are characterized by a progressive social detachment , in addition to problems in establishing and maintaining relationships with other people. They also share the fact that there is an enormous lack of interaction with others, although it should be noted that both disorders manifest themselves in the form of differentiated symptoms.

In both disorders, the person has an appearance that stands out from the rest, especially in the case of schizotypal people, who tend to dress more conspicuously.

Differences between these two personality disorders

Let’s learn below how schizoid and schizotypal disorder differ.

1. Sociability

In schizoid personality disorder, the person has little interest in establishing social and sexual relationships with other individuals.

This type of person prefers solitude to the company of others . Because of this, they usually don’t have many friends, being the only people their closest relatives interact with.

This can also be observed by the fact that schizoid people often work in jobs that do not require much human interaction, such as computer scientists, programmers, mathematicians, among others.

In contrast, people with schizotypal personality disorder, the reason they don’t have the right social relationship is not that they don’t want to have friends, but that they are afraid of interacting with others.

They are people who are very susceptible to possible criticism from others, causing them to enter a spiral of suspicion that others do not love them, which generates fear and a high level of anxiety.

2. Paranoia

Related to the previous point, schizoid people are indifferent to the opinion of others and to their criticism, even if it is positive .

Because of this, they are not prone to paranoia, since they don’t care what others say or do, they simply see it as not going with them, nor should they care.

Instead, schizotypal people may come to think that others are talking about them.

Paranoia and suspicions that others are constantly criticizing her, or that the world thinks bad things about her, cause them to suffer, as we mentioned in the previous point, high levels of social anxiety.

3. Searching for help

Having seen the first two differences, it is easy to understand why schizotypal people choose to go to therapy voluntarily more often than those with schizotypal personality disorder .

The desire to have healthy social relationships but not being able to establish and maintain them over time makes people with schizotypal personality disorder feel terribly bad, and they can develop depressive symptoms.

Social anxiety is experienced in a way that can even be paralyzing, with its very noticeable effect on the patient’s daily life.

These two points make the person realize sooner or later that he or she needs help, or at least that his or her closest environment is aware that a visit to a professional is necessary.

On the other hand, schizoid people, not wishing to have more social relationships than they have already established or than are strictly necessary, do not see their personality type as something that implies some kind of problem.

They do not take the first steps to improve the quality of their relationships with other people, being the family environment who usually decides to make this decision, forcing them to go to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

4. Fantasy and magical thinking

In both disorders there is a tendency to take refuge in a world in their mind . Both schizoids and schizotypes use the imagination as a mechanism to escape from reality and go to a place that they control and that is safe for them.

The difference lies in the extent to which the patient knows that the world is not real. Schizoid people, even though they use fantasy to escape from reality, are aware that the world in their mind is not real.

This, however, need not be so clear to a schizotypal person. They may even hear voices and be convinced that they are real.

They also tend to have magical beliefs, such as that they may have psychic powers and believe in superstitions.

5. Relationship to schizophrenia

Although schizophrenia and schizoid and schizotypal disorders are etymologically related, starting with the Greek particle ‘skhizo’ (‘to split, to divide’), one could say that this is the little they share.

All three disorders imply different symptomatology , with schizophrenia being a severe mental health disorder, while schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders imply differentiated behavioural and thought patterns between them.

However, these two personality disorders differ in their relationship to schizophrenia. Specifically, schizotypal personality disorder has certain symptoms that are related to severe mental disorder, particularly in relation to its psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delirium, and paranoia.

While in schizotypal disorder fantastic ideas, magical thinking, and paranoia are considered milder than in schizophrenia, they are related.

In fact, there is a real risk that a person with schizotypal personality disorder will end up getting worse and developing full-blown schizophrenia.

Some experts have come to advocate that schizotypal personality disorder might be considered a milder type of schizophrenia.

Bibliographic references:

  • Akhtar, S. (1987): Trastorno de Personalidad Esquizoide: Una síntesis de las características de desarrollo, dinámicas y descriptivas. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 151:499-518.
  • Asociación Americana de Psiquiatría. (2013). Manual diagnóstico y estadístico de los trastornos mentales (5ª ed., texto rev.).
  • Pulay, A. J.; Stinson, F. S.; Dawson, D. A.; Goldstein, R. B.; Chou, S. P.; y otros (2009). “Prevalence, Correlates, Disability, and Comorbidity of DSM-IV Schizotypal Personality Disorder”: Results From the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions”. Acompañante de atención primaria de la revista de psiquiatría clínica. 11 (2): 53–67.
  • Raine, A. (2006). “Schizotypal personality: Trayectorias neurodesarrolladas y psicosociales”. Annual Review of Psychology. 2: 291–326.