Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Before understanding about various types of personality disorder, first let us know the meaning of personality disorder. Individuals affected with personality disorder will have different patterns of thinking/acting that is not accepted or perceived as abnormal behavior by the society. The personality can mildly/seriously affect many areas of life like school, workplace and social setups. They have poor coping skills and may not be able to form healthy relationships.

Personality disorder is different from anxiety disorder wherein people understand that they have a problem but these people are not aware of their problem and they don’t believe that they can control it. A person with schizotypal personality disorder behaves odd/eccentric and may not maintain any close relationships. He always misinterprets others behavior and develops distrust on others. These people may have peculiar beliefs and may respond inappropriately to the demands of society. In short people with schizotypal personality disorder are called eccentric persons.

Symptoms :

Individuals with schizotypal personality disorder behave in odd manner and will have peculiar pattern of speech, thought and appearance. They are always suspicious about others behavior. They dress and speak in peculiar way. They cannot be comfortable in social situations and may have very few friends since they cannot maintain any intimate relationships.

They always have a tendency to misinterpret reality having odd beliefs and superstitions. They remain preoccupied with daydreaming and fantasy. They believe having special powers like telepathy. Every action of the society will be viewed as personal meaning by them. Some people may have bodily illusions like phantom pains and abnormal paranoid ideas. They seldom have trust/faith on others. Most of these symptoms are observed from childhood and in the teenage they may have increased social anxiety. The child may often remain away from peers being the target of teasing and bullying.

Causes :

Heredity is the main factor for schizotypal personality disorder. It can be seen in the offspring if any of the parents have schizophrenia and close relatives have developed this disorder. Hence genetics play an important role in shaping one’s personality. Normal children will learn over time about the ways of interpreting social cues and respond accordingly. But for children with schizotypal disorder is often preoccupied with unusual thinking and paranoid thoughts and they cannot concentrate and observe anything.

Who are at risk?

A child with one of his parents or relatives with schizotypal personality disorder or schizophrenia is likely to develop this problem. A child who has been abused or neglected or in the stage of trauma during childhood may grow schizotypal. From the stages of later childhood or early teens, he/she would have psychotic episodes, hypersensitive, often develop anxiety disorder or depression and stay away from school and society.

Diagnoses :

The doctor will collect the medical history of the child after physical examination. He would then refer the case to psychologist or psychiatrist for evaluation of mental illness. No laboratory tests are available for determining personality disorders. Psychologists will communicate with the person and accordingly devise questionnaire or assessment tools for evaluating his personality type.

For grouping a child/person under schizotypal personality disorder, he/she must have at least some of the following conditions:-

  • Odd beliefs, thinking and unusual perceptions
  • Having suspicious thoughts and distrust on others
  • Peculiar way of speech, dressing and behavior
  • Looking stiff with flat emotions and staying isolated
  • Having no friends staying separated all the time
  • Having increased social anxiety/fear

Treatment :

Treatment varies from person to person according to the extent to which he/she is affected with personality disorder. Treatment is given in the form of psychotherapy combined with medications. Depending on the severity of the problem, psychiatrist may prescribe antipsychotic or antidepressant drugs to get relief from symptoms. There is no specific drug that can cure personality or way of thinking.

  • Psychotherapy :

Psychologist will use several methods in psychotherapy like cognitive therapy, behavior therapy and talk therapy. The affected person will be encouraged to talk freely so that he/she develops trust on others. The health care professional will slowly make him learn certain social skills and set of behaviors thus changing the way he thinks. Psychotherapy treatment will be effective if there is full cooperation from family members. The person may show some improvement over time with the support of family and friends to rebuild his confidence.

Prevention :

There is no way to prevent this disorder since personality is one that is built up with traits.

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