Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by severe social anxiety, paranoid ideation, derealization, transient psychosis, and often very unconventional beliefs. People with this condition may react oddly in conversations, not respond, or talk to themselves. They will likely have a very difficult time with forming and maintaining healthy relationships with others as they will often believe the other person harbors negative opinions about them.
Paranormal and superstitious beliefs are common for people suffering from schizotypal personality disorder. This illness is classified as a Cluster A personality disorder, alongside paranoid and schizoid personality disorders. Mental illnesses in this cluster are labeled as being “odd or eccentric disorders.” Though these three disorders share common characteristics, they are indeed distinctly different from each other.
A day in the life of someone suffering with schizotypal personality disorder will likely be full of stress and worry as their paranoia, social anxiety, and often bizarre beliefs will keep their mind busier than they would like it to be. Depending on their genetic makeup, the constant stress that they consistently endure may open the door for them to develop an addition mental disorder. However, it may be very difficult to make an additional diagnosis as schizotypal personality disorder has a broad spectrum of symptoms.
Cluster A personality disorders are often quite common in the homeless population. According to research, a large American study was done which found a lifetime prevalence of 3.9% with this illness, with somewhat higher rates among men (4.2%) than women (3.7%).
Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
As mentioned above, someone suffering with schizotypal personality disorder will have a very difficult time with developing and maintaining healthy relationships with others. Such difficulties may also delve into the realm of employment as they may find it very challenging to keep a job. Depending on the severity of their condition, they may be unable to work entirely.
They may believe that they were abducted by aliens once before and may be able to explain it in vivid detail. Some common religious beliefs that they may withhold may be that they themselves believe to be a prophet of god or that they have special powers that are inaccessible to everyone else.
The World Health Organization’s ICD-10 uses the name schizotypal disorder. This mental illness is classified as a clinical disorder associated with schizophrenia, rather than a personality disorder (in the DSM-5).
The ICD definition of schizotypal personality disorder is:
A disorder characterized by eccentric behavior and anomalies of thinking and affect which resemble those seen in schizophrenia, though no definite and characteristic schizophrenic anomalies have occurred at any stage.
Below are some common symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder:
Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric or peculiar
Poor rapport with others and a tendency to withdraw socially
Odd beliefs or magical thinking, influencing behavior and inconsistent with subcultural norms
Suspiciousness or paranoid ideas
Vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, over-elaborate or stereotyped thinking, manifested by odd speech or in other ways, without gross incoherence
Obsessive ruminations without inner resistance
Inappropriate or constricted affect (the individual appears cold and aloof)
Unusual perceptual experiences including somatosensory (bodily) or other illusions, depersonalization or derealization
Occasional transient quasi-psychotic episodes with intense illusions, auditory or other hallucinations and delusion-like ideas, usually occurring without external provocation
Causes of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
There is no known cause for schizotypal personality disorder. However genetics and one’s environment may both play very significant roles in the development of this condition. For instance, if someone has a family history of mental illness, especially with personality disorders, then they may have a higher risk for developing this condition. This would likely be due to them also having an increased chance of being genetically predisposed to developing mental illness.
If they were to have such a genetic predisposition, then environmental factors may be enough for someone to develop schizotypal personality disorder. For example, a child experiencing a traumatic event of some sort may be enough for them to develop this disorder insofar as they have the genetic makeup to do so. Other factors such as parenting styles may also be possible ways that a child or young adult can develop this condition.
Though we do no definitively know what causes this condition to develop, there is an overwhelming consensus among most mental health professionals that both genetics and one’s environment play very significant roles in the development of virtually any mental disorder. Taking a closer look at these two parameters may help to give you more insight as to whether or not you are at risk for developing schizotypal personality disorder.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Treatment
Talk therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) may not be very effective for someone suffering with schizotypal personality disorder. Instead, a very structured and supportive group therapy may be an effective form of treatment for someone with this condition. Though there are many challenges that can arise when other participants of the group are also paranoid, group therapy may still be very effective at reducing the symptoms of this disorder.
Medications may also be very effective for someone suffering from schizotypal personality disorder. Such a person would most likely be prescribed the same medications as someone suffering from schizophrenia. Such drugs which may help to relieve some of the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder are antipsychotic medications like thiothixene, for example. A neuroleptic such as haloperidol may also help treat some of their symptoms as well.
Though certain types of therapy, as well as certain medications may prove to be very advantageous for someone suffering from this condition, they may not be effective at all for the next person. So, it is very important for someone suffering with this disorder to first talk to their doctor before taking matters into their own hands by taking drugs not prescribed by their doctor.
If you think you may have schizotypal personality disorder or if you are suffering from some of the symptoms outlined in this article, then you should talk to your doctor as soon as you can so that you can be properly diagnosed and treated. Upon doing so, your doctor may refer you to see a specialist such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist for further treatment.