People with schizotypal personality disorder have difficulty forming close relationships and have peculiar beliefs and behaviors.
Schizotypal personality disorder signs and symptoms can include:
- Being a loner and lacking close friends outside of the immediate family
- Incorrect interpretation of events, including feeling that external events have personal meaning
- Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
- Dressing in peculiar ways
- Belief in special powers, such as telepathy
- Perceptual alterations, in some cases bodily illusions, including phantom pains or other distortions in the sense of touch
- Persistent and excessive social anxiety
- Peculiar style of speech, such as loose or vague patterns of speaking or rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
- Suspicious or paranoid ideas, hypersensitivity, and constant doubts about the loyalty and fidelity of others
- Flat emotions, or limited or inappropriate emotional responses
Signs of schizotypal personality disorder, such as increased interest in solitary activities or a high level of social anxiety, may be seen in the teen years. The child may be an underperformer in school or appear socially out of step with peers, and as a result often becomes the subject of bullying or teasing.
Schizotypal personality vs. schizophrenia
Schizotypal personality disorder can easily be confused with schizophrenia, a severe mental illness in which people lose contact with reality (psychosis). While people with schizotypal personalities may experience brief psychotic episodes with delusions or hallucinations, they are not as frequent, prolonged or intense as in schizophrenia.
Another key distinction between schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia is that people with the personality disorder usually can be made aware of the difference between their distorted ideas and reality. Those with schizophrenia generally can't be swayed away from their delusions.
Despite the differences, schizotypal personality disorder can benefit from similar treatments as schizophrenia and is sometimes considered a variant of schizophrenia.
When to see a doctor
Because the potential for personality change becomes less pliable as people age, it's best to seek treatment for a personality disorder as early as possible.
People with schizotypal personality are likely to seek help only at the urging of friends or relatives. If you suspect a friend or family member may have the disorder, be on the lookout for certain signs. You might gently suggest that the person seek medical attention, starting with a primary care physician or mental health provider.
Personality is the combination of thoughts, emotions and behaviors that makes you unique. It's the way you view, understand and relate to the outside world, as well as how you see yourself. Personality forms during childhood, shaped through an interaction of inherited tendencies and environmental factors.
In normal development, children learn over time to accurately interpret social cues and respond appropriately. For people with schizotypal personalities, something goes wrong during this process, leading to illogical beliefs, unusual thinking and paranoid feelings. What exactly goes wrong isn't known, but it's likely that one or more factors cause problems with the way the brain functions, and genetics may play a role.
Factors that appear to increase the risk of schizotypal personality disorder include:
- Having a relative who has schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder
- Experiencing neglect or abuse, trauma, or family dysfunction during childhood
People with schizotypal personality disorder are at an increased risk of:
- Temporary psychotic episodes, usually in response to stress
- Major depression
- Anxiety disorder, characterized by prolonged worry or uneasiness
- Work, school and social problems
- Schizophrenia, rarely