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Thursday, November 26, 2009

T3 - Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid Personality Disorder is pretty uncommon even in clinical settings, but I'm convinced this disorder would make for an interesting villain, or perhaps a flawed hero, but that one might be harder to pull off. Just read and think about it.

There are seven diagnostic criteria for Schizoid, and the person would have to have 4 or more to qualify for this diagnosis. So without further ado, we'll just jump right in.

1) Lack a desire for intimacy and don't really derive much satisfaction from being part of a family or other social group. They basically seem indifferent to opportunities to develop close relationships, which, as my post yesterday confirms, isn't main stream remotely. Most of us are made to be relational. They date infrequently and often never marry.

2) Prefer to be alone rather than with other people. These are the quintessential "loners" that are socially isolated. The people who go to movies by themselves, eat by themselves and essentially need (or want) very little interaction with others. They chose solitary hobbies and activities to pursue that just don't include interaction, like computer games. Working a job that requires regular human interaction might be very difficult for them.

3) Have very little interest in having sexual experiences with another person. Hmm...not much else to say about this one.

4) Take pleasure in few, if any, activities. Things that make other people happy, like the sensory experience of walking on the beach or the interpersonal experience of enjoying a candlelight dinner with someone, or the bodily experience of intercourse, just don't make these people feel pleasure.

5) Have no close friends or confidants, except perhaps a first-degree relative. The reason being, of course, that it's difficult to be friends with someone who actually prefers NOT to hang around you. That doesn't exactly inspire close bonds.

6) Seem indifferent to the praise or criticism from others. These people just aren't bothered by what others may think about them, certainly lose no sleep over it. They seem oblivious to the normal day-to-day social cues, and often don't respond appropriately...coming across as socially inept, superficial or self-absorbed (even though that's really not the case). Quite honestly, they just lack social skills.

7) Show emotional coldness, blandness or detachment. A person with this disorder rarely reciprocates gestures or facial expressions like smiles or nods. They claim to hardly ever experience the emotions of anger or joy. Even in the face of direct provocation they won't get angry. They just seem very passive when they encounter what a normal person would consider adverse circumstances and they often can't response appropriately to important life events.

A clinician has to be careful before labeling anyone with any type of disorder. For example, a person who just moved from a very rural area to a highly congested city might react with an "emotional freezing" (kind of like shock) that could exhibit some of these characteristics. The clinician has to take into account the cultural experiences of the person.

In childhood, people who go on to develop this disorder often presented as under-acheivers in school, had poor peer relationships and were often solitary. Quite often they were teased by other children or adolescents. (This is actually a fairly common experience for people with early manifestations of personality disorders. This personality disorder is found most often in males and may cause more impairment for a man than a woman.

It may be more prevalent in relatives of individuals with schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder (which we'll cover next week....totally different disorders but share some common features). There is some indication that Schizoid Personality can be a precursor to Schizophrenia, especially since stress can cause Schizoids to have brief psychotic episodes.

That's it for Schizoid. Interesting to think about, huh?

Q4U: Ever known someone who might have fit this bill? What possibilities could it have for a villain? Or hero? Remember: You only have to have FOUR of the above characteristics...so you could pick and choose....
Wordle: signature

12 comments:

Jessica said...

Definitely interesting. I think this would make for a great hero, but he'd have to somehow start to care.
This makes me think of one of Linda Howard's heros in one of her recent books. He's an assassin and he just doesn't feel things like other people or care and he doesn't "hang out". Yet, she did an excellent job of writing him.
Good post!

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

i'll have to check out that book. i'm not familiar with linda howard. thanks!

Stephanie Faris said...

I've always wondered about people who live like hermits, preferring to be alone. I know there are varying reasons for this, but it just seems abnormal for someone to be able to live alone for years and years and not long for companionship. This would be one explanation...other people just seem to shut off from others to keep from getting hurt.

Anonymous said...

I'm a severe schizoid, mainly because I had to experience the beginnings of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder at age thirteen that still has persisted for what seems like decades. I was forced into the "hero" role as you put it because my wife (then girlfriend) was constantly in trouble and I had to keep bailing her out. I am by no means perfect, and I still do not understand why I did what I did for her, usually I would just turn and walk away like I always did, and do. In many ways I am a hero, a villan, and an indifferent bystander observing all of you from afar. Quite personally I could care less what I am or how you would categorize me, I just decided to post this out of boredom.

Trouble said...

Schizoids DO long for connection and love, they just hide it. "I love you. But I am afraid to love you". I write about schizoid love here

http://schizoid-personality.blogspot.com/

Aubianne said...

I'm pretty sure being schizoid has led me to create more schizoid characters than I even realised. Both genders. It's as if to keep things 'fresh' I have to institute a bit more flat affect in this one, and a little less isolation in that one ... some features of other PDs just to keep it interesting.

I'd have to say, 'flawed hero' is the direction in which I typically go. Classic anti. Byronic. (It's easier for a villain to be flat-out APD or psychopathic, yeah? Although, my latest thought is a masochist for a villainness. There are SO many sadists out there - I figured, what if they're doing it for a totally different reason than you think?)

So, you might say my fiction is flavours of SPD, starting from my teens. (I blame the advanced psych degree for the other disorders creeping in. Fortunately, I have been quite lauded for my characters' depth and uniqueness. Hey, it's that rich fantasy life, right?)

Now how's that for odd?

-A.

Dominique Hoffman said...

excuse me but this article is vile. If you write fiction like you report about the moral choices by a specific group of people, then your writings are as subtle as the black minstrel show. All what you are doing in this article is to point your hand and laugh at freaks, I hope none of them ever gets trapped in one of your stories.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

Sorry you feel that way Dominique. I don't feel that I'm "pointing my hand and laughing" at all. First off, personality disorders and mental disorders are not amusing. I have devoted my life's work to helping people with them. Second, I'm simply conveying the information about schizoid personality disorder as indicated in the DSM. The point of this series was to illuminate various personality disorders so that authors could choose to write traits into their stories. Sorry if this offends, but we write what we know (and the point of my blog is to help people "know" mental disorders better so they can write them more realistically). Regardless, I'm glad for your comment and that you were able to express yourself.

Dominique Hoffman said...

Thank you for your reply. I came across your article yesterday, and that was one day after The Sun newspaper had a headline about mental health patients committing violent crime. We know from statistics that mentally-ill patients are more likely to be victims of crime and that 95% of crimes are committed by people who have not being diagnosed with mental illness. The perception that demented lunatics are committing crimes has been perpetuated through tabloids and sensationalist fiction. Don't fall into the Bedlam trap.

Dominique Hoffman said...

This particular type of person is therefore more likely to be a victim than a villain. They are vulnerable because they are loners and because they find it difficult to cope emotionally with other people. I would know one thing or two about the matter because I'm schizoid myself. I keep this to myself because mental illness is such a stigma that you get treated like an idiot no matter how well you have done academically. If you want to read about a schizoid character, you can read my new novel. Or if that sounds like I am promoting my stuff, you can read the story of Joseph K in Franz Kafka's the Trial. My distress at my diagnosis is only relieved by the fact that this admirable writer had it too.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

Thanks for returning and dialoguing, Dominique. Too often people come to grumble and then won't engage. I'm afraid the perception that the majority of people who commit crimes are mentally ill is one that's propagated everywhere, sadly. Law enforcement don't understand, and mentally ill folks do often fall victim. Here in Humboldt County, we have regular trainings for our law enforcement by mental health professionals to try to change this statistics.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as an amateur writer, as well as someone who is possibly schizoid, I don't see schizoids as good villains. What would the motivation be? Why would we bother to be villainous? We certainly don't crave power, or excessive wealth. We just want to be left alone to do our own things. -- I can see a schizoid as a kind of unwilling anti-hero, maybe. (Some people claim Lisbeth from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" as a schizoid, btw.)

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