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Schizotypal Personality Disorder


Personality disorder is a matter of false judgments of value. Listed below are the false value judgments that are at the root of Schizotypal Personality Disorder.

False Good

False Bad

Personality Disorder

self-direction and independence close relationships lack of close friends or confidants
an interesting, unusual, and eccentric lifestyle; nonconformity convention; conformity odd beliefs or magical thinking
things of the occult, extrasensory, or supernatural the mundane odd thinking and speech
to have their own idiosyncratic feelings and belief system conventional emotional experience; adopting others' beliefs suspiciousness or paranoid ideation
abstract and speculative thinking concrete and conventional thinking inappropriate or constricted affect
positive reactions from others being the object of others' attention excessive social anxiety; ideas of reference
behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar

Perspectives q.v.

The Disease Perspective

Proposed Revision | APA DSM-5 New!

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, pg. 645) describes Schizotypal Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  • ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference);

  • odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with subcultural norms (e.g., superstitiousness, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, or "sixth sense"; in children and adolescents, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations);

  • unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions;

  • odd thinking and speech (e.g., vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, overelaborate, or stereotyped);

  • suspiciousness or paranoid ideation;

  • inappropriate or constricted affect;

  • behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar;

  • lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives;

  • excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.

The disorder does not occur exclusively during the course of Schizophrenia, a Mood Disorder With Psychotic Features, another Psychotic Disorder, or a Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

The Dimensional Perspective

Here is a hypothetical profile, in terms of the five-factor model of personality, for Schizotypal Personality Disorder (speculatively constructed from McCrae, 1994, pg. 306):

High Neuroticism
Chronic negative affects, including anxiety, fearfulness, tension, irritability, anger, dejection, hopelessness, guilt, shame; difficulty in inhibiting impulses: for example, to eat, drink, or spend money; irrational beliefs: for example, unrealistic expectations, perfectionistic demands on self, unwarranted pessimism; unfounded somatic concerns; helplessness and dependence on others for emotional support and decision making.

Low Extraversion
Social isolation, interpersonal detachment, and lack of support networks; flattened affect; lack of joy and zest for life; reluctance to assert self or assume leadership roles, even when qualified; social inhibition and shyness.

High Openness
Preoccupation with fantasy and daydreaming; lack of practicality; eccentric thinking (e.g., belief in ghosts, reincarnation, UFOs); diffuse identity and changing goals: for example, joining religious cult; susceptibility to nightmares and states of altered consciousness; social rebelliousness and nonconformity that can interfere with social or vocational advancement.

Low Agreeableness
Cynicism and paranoid thinking; inability to trust even friends or family; quarrelsomeness; too ready to pick fights; exploitive and manipulative; lying; rude and inconsiderate manner alienates friends, limits social support; lack of respect for social conventions can lead to troubles with the law; inflated and grandiose sense of self; arrogance.

High Conscientiousness
Overachievement: workaholic absorption in job or cause to the exclusion of family, social, and personal interests; compulsiveness, including excessive cleanliness, tidiness, and attention to detail; rigid self-discipline and an inability to set tasks aside and relax; lack of spontaneity; overscrupulousness in moral behavior.

Specific Affects

Social anxiety, phobic anxiety, anhedonia, feelings of humiliation, paranoia (Stone, pp. 2719, 2220, 2724, 2726).

Character Weaknesses and Vices*

  • referentiality*
  • social anxiety*
  • illusions*
  • magical thinking*
  • no close friends*
  • odd speech*
  • inappropriate affect*
  • eccentric
  • suspicious

* Derived from Michael Stone's (pg. 22) list of the "personality traits" of DSM-III-R Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Descriptors marked with an asterisk, he says, are not true personality traits.

The Behavior Perspective


Want to avoid being influenced by anyone.


Aloofness, odd communication, isolation; Ego-boundary problems, "ego-diffusion," merging phenomena and other severe distortions of the self, mirroring, narcissistic disturbances, faulty sense of identity; difficulty sensing what other people are all about or else at knowing how to best respond when their perceptions of interpersonal situations happen to be accurate; marked peculiarities of speech, dress, and habit; sensitivity to criticism, avoidance of intimacy; insensitivity to the feelings of spouse, oversensitivity to spouse's behavior; extreme loneliness and need for human relatedness, inability to "connect" meaningfully and pleasurably with other people (Stone, pp. 2719, 2221-2726).

Odd speech: vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, overelaborate, or stereotyped speech; idiosyncratic phrasing, unusual use of words, overly concrete or abstract responses to questions; odd, eccentric, or peculiar mannerisms or dress; excessive social anxiety associated with paranoid fears about the motivations of others, rather than with negative judgments about themselves; difficulty responding to interpersonal cuing and expressing a full range of affects; difficulty in developing rapport or engaging in casual and meaningful conversations; an inappropriate, stiff, or constricted manner (Gunderson and Philips, pg. 1437).

Associated Disorders

Symptoms of anxiety, depression, or other dysphoric affects; transient psychotic episodes; Brief Psychotic Disorder, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, Schizophrenia; Major Depressive Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2000, pg. 698-699).

Hypochondriasis, transient psychotic experiences; "psychoticism," obsessive-compulsive symptoms (Stone, pp. 2723-2726).

The Life Story Perspective


Physical, sexual, and emotional trauma.

Cognitive Effects

Basic Belief: I need to consider only my own views; I must not be influenced by anyone. Strategy: Eccentric thinking.

Suspiciousness, ideas of reference, illusions; "cognitive slippage," a disturbing sense of discontinuity with respect to time and person; tendency to misinterpret: reacts to symbols, to possible meanings, rather than facts; poor at generalizing from one situation to another analogous one; concreteness, and humorlessness; conviction of unlikeablity (Stone, pp. 2719, 2221, 2725, 2726).

Parataxic thinking.

The "idealized self is made up of beliefs about how we should feel, think, or act" (Tamney, pg. 32).

In Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, Aaron T. Beck and Arthur Freeman (1990) list typical beliefs associated with each specific personality disorder. According to my view, the beliefs and attitudes rationalize and reinforce the idealized image and the compulsive attachments and aversions. They are analogous to Karen Horney's "shoulds" and "neurotic claims." Here are some of the typical attitudes and assumptions that they have listed (pg. 140) for Schizotypal Personality Disorder:

  • I feel like an alien in a frightening environment.
  • Since the world is dangerous, you have to watch out for yourself at all times.
  • There are reasons for everything. Things don't happen by chance.
  • Sometimes my inner feelings are an indication of what is going to happen.
  • Relationships are threatening.
  • I am defective.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington: Author, 1994.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed., text revision. Washington: Author.

Beck, Aaron T. and Freeman, Arthur M. and Associates (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York : Guilford Press.

Beck, Aaron T. and Freeman, Arthur M. and Associates (2003). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders, 2nd ed. New York : Guilford Press.

Cooper, Terry D. (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Gunderson, John G. and Philips, Katherine A. (1995). Personality Disorders. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry/VI, Vol. 2. Eds. Harold I. Kaplan and Benjamin J. Sadock. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins.

McCrae, Robert R. (1994). "A Reformulation of Axis II: Personality and Personality-Related Problems." Costa, Paul T., Jr., Widiger, Thomas A., editors. Personality Disorders and the Five-Factor Model of Personality. Washington, D.C.: The American Psychological Association.

Oldham, John M., and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.

Stone, Michael H. (1989). Personality Disorders: Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders, Vol. 3. American Psychiatric Association. Task Force on Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. Washington, DC : American Psychiatric Association.

Stone, Michael H. (1993). Abnormalities of personality: within and beyond the realm of treatment. New York: W.W. Norton.

Tamney, Joseph B. (2002). The Resilience of Conservative Religion. New York: Cambridge UP.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder: links

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