Paranoid, Schizoid & Schizotypal Personality Disorders

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) defines paranoid, schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders as a cluster of “odd” personality disorders. All three types are characterized by unusual or eccentric behavior very similar to that of schizophrenia, but without the hallucinations or delusions found in that more severe mental disorders.

What is Paranoid Personality Disorder? 

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders can cause serious problems for the person.

Paranoid personality disorder is a mental health disorder in which you experience a lifetime of suspicion and mistrust. You blame others for your feelings rather than yourself. You truly believe that people are pathologically jealous of you and your success, beauty, intellect, etc. You constantly file frivolous lawsuits because you feel that people are always “out to get you.” If you have this personality disorder, you may be cranky, hostile and/or angry most of the time.

What is the Prevalence Rate Associated with Paranoid Personality Disorder?

Less than 1% to 2.5% of the general population suffers from a personality disorder. However, the prevalence rate may be higher the originally estimated because those with this disorder rarely seek treatment.

What Causes Paranoid Personality Disorder?

The exact cause of paranoid personality disorder is unknown at this time, but it is most likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. More men than women are diagnosed with this disorder each year and minority groups, immigrants and the deaf population are most at risk for developing this disorder.

How is Paranoid Personality Disorder Treated?

If you are convinced that you are under constant threat, it is not unreasonable to expect you may have a high level of anxiety. Your agitation and anxiety is usually treated with low doses of sedatives if your anxiety and/or delusions reach higher levels, small doses of anti-psychotics may be prescribed for short periods of time. However, individual psychotherapy is the most effective and frequently recommended form of treatment for paranoid personality disorder. Group and/or family therapies are not recommended.

What is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

Schizotypal personality disorder usually begins in early adulthood and is characterized by “magical thinking” or beliefs that unrelated events are actually linked or that they pertain in some way to you. If you suffer from this disorder, you may believe that you are being controlled by an external force or that you control others with your thoughts.

You may exhibit “digressive” behaviors. In other words, you may overwhelm the person or people that you are talking to with your elaborate and irrelevant ideas. Your appearance and behavior may be considered “eccentric” by the general population and you may appear humorless and dull to others. You more than likely will not feel comfortable with others and may avoid personal relationships.

A prime example of this type of personality disorder is Travis Bickle. Travis Bickle is the character played by Robert De Niro in the iconic film, Taxi Driver. It is important to note that there is a possibility that schizotypal personality disorder could eventually develop into full-blown schizophrenia.

How Prevalent is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

Approximately 3% of the general population suffers from schizotypal personality disorder. It is not uncommon for people with strong religious beliefs to be mistakenly diagnosed with this disorder.

How is Schizotypal Personality Disorder Treated?

This disorder is treated with small doses of anti-psychotic medications such as haloperidol (Haldol) and psychotherapy. Your bizarre beliefs and ideas are carefully observed and treated.  It may take time to build an atmosphere of trust between you and your therapist, but once the foundation is formed, this treatment protocol can yield positive results.

What is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Schizoid personality disorder, a personality disorder, consists of abnormal behaviors and thought processes. It typically first presents during early childhood, but does not always last throughout the life span. This disorder is sometimes confused with paranoia largely because it often leads to social isolation. The main difference between paranoid personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder is that the social isolation is not the result of fear, but rather a lack of interest in close relationships or social interactions. This social isolation may prompt you to enter a profession where there is little to no contact with others.

How Common is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

No one is certain how many people have this disorder, but it has been estimated that over 7% of the general population may affected. In addition, women are twice as likely as men to develop this disorder.

How is Schizoid Personality Disorder Treated?

Treatment typically consists of small doses of anti-psychotic medications and psychotherapy. Psychotherapy may involve group therapy, family therapy and individual therapy. You will not be expected to contribute a great deal of conversation, but you may actually enjoy the interaction with other group therapy members.

References:

Comer, R. J. (1996). Fundamentals of abnormal psychology. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Kaplan, H.  I., & Sadoc, B. J. (1996). Concise textbook of clinical psychiatry. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.