WHAT IS SCHIZOTYPAL PERSONALITY DISORDER?
Mental illness can be a lonely, isolating condition even at the best of times. However many friends or family you have to support you, at times you're just stuck with your own mixed-up head for company. This is even tougher if the condition you have is schizotypal personality disorder (SPD).
Schizotypal Personality Disorder affects around 4% of the population and is, as some research has suggested, a form of mild schizophrenia. It does share some similar symptoms (but not all) and they're not completely identical.
People with SPD may experience brief delusions or hallucinations, but they will be much less frequent, less intense and shorter than those with schizophrenia. They can also be made aware that there is a difference between what they think and the reality of the situation, unlike schizophrenics who can't be dissuaded. We'll talk more on the symptoms of the condition below.
People with Schizotypal Personality Disorder will have a very hard time forming and maintaining relationships with other people, even sometimes with those in their immediate family. As such they will have very few close friends, if any at all. For some, even the basic understanding of how friendships work can seem alien to them. Can you imagine how lonely that must be?
Often the behaviour of those with SPD will also seem quite odd, even eccentric, by 'normal' standards. They will also talk using unusual phrases or terminology. This kind of behaviour will make other people feel uncomfortable, but they tend not to understand why or how their behaviour impacts them.
In social situations, those with schizotypal personality disorder will become extremely anxious, which can make them act inappropriately. They will also believe that other people are ridiculing, gossiping or criticising them. This leads to distrust and they begin to feel the world is isolating them, so they do the same.
Schizotypal personality disorder is usually diagnosed in the latter stages of the teenage years or early stages of adulthood. They can include:
- Lack of friends or people they can confide in.
- Acute discomfort with any close relationships.
- An appearance or behaviour that would appear 'odd' to most people.
- A belief in the supernatural, clairvoyance, telepathy or superstition that may also influence their behaviour.
- Suspicious and paranoid thinking.
- Social anxiety that doesn't lessen with increase familiarity.
Like many personality disorders, symptoms may not start to be noticeable until the early part of adulthood. It can be diagnosed in younger people but, as their personalities are still evolving, it's more difficult. Even then, the symptoms must have been present for a year or more to be diagnosed.
People living with schizotypal personality disorder may notice that their symptoms will be begin to less as they approach middle-age.
WHAT CAUSES SCHIZOTYPAL PERSONALITY DISORDER?
If you've read any of our other guides to personality disorders (you should, they're great!) you won't be too shocked to learn that the cause of SPD is unclear.
Most research points towards it being a mixture of social, psychological and biological factors. Social refers to how people interacts with others during their formative years; psychological comprises their own personality and temperament and biological are those damn genetics you can't do anything about.
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?
Schizotypal Personality Disorder is a long-term condition and, as such, needs long-term psychotherapy to help it. It will benefit those living with it especially if the therapist has experience in this field (bear in mind it's 'this field' not 'a field'). Medication will doubtless play a part in your treatment plan too.
If you live with Schizotypal Personality Disorder, there may be some organisations on our Where To Turn pages that can help you. If not, and you know of one, please let us know and we'll look into it.
Also, if you'd like to share your experiences of living with schizotypal personality disorder with our community so they can better understand how it feels, please take a look at our 'Men Tell' section.