PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes Personality Disorders Passive-Aggressive

Schizoid 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 Schizoid Personality Disorder.

False Good

False Bad

Personality Disorder

to be alone close relationships and being part of a family neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family
solitude and solitary activities lack of solitude; having to do things with others almost always choose solitary activities
autoeroticism sexual experiences with others has little if any interest in having sexual experiences with another person
self-control pleasure and pain takes pleasure in few activities
secrecy intimacy, friendship, and confiding in others lacks close friends or confidants other than first degree relatives
to be unaffected and uninfluenced praise and criticism appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
to suppress emotion expression of emotion and feeling shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity

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. 641) describes Schizoid Personality Disorder as a pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
  • neither desires nor enjoys close relationships, including being part of a family;

  • almost always chooses solitary activities;

  • has little, if any, interest in having sexual experiences with another person;

  • takes pleasure in few, if any, activities;

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

  • appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others;

  • shows emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity.

The Dimensional Perspective


Here is a hypothetical profile, in terms of the five-factor model of personality, for Schizoid 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.

Low Conscientiousness
Underachievement: not fulfilling intellectual or artistic potential; poor academic performance relative to ability; disregard of rules and responsibilities can lead to trouble with the law; unable to discipline self (e.g., stick to diet, exercise plan) even when required for medical reasons; personal and occupational aimlessness.

Specific Affects

Emotional coolness or aloofness (absence of warm, tender feelings for others), constricted affect, indifference to praise or criticism or to the feelings of others, anhedonia, shyness, distrust, introversion, discomfort with intimacy, loneliness, anxieties concerning the mother-child symbiosis and other close relationships, feelings of utter unworthiness--but also of superiority, self-consciousness and feeling ill at ease with people, oversensitivity, destructive feelings, painful feelings, overwhelming anxiety (or even psychosis), emotional distance, intense loneliness, inordinate guilt over masturbation, fear of going crazy, sensitivity to slights (Stone, pp. 2712-2717).

Anhedonia, aversiveness, or introversion; social anxiety; depression (Gunderson & Philips, pg. 1445).

Character Weaknesses and Vices*

  • prefers to be alone
  • prefers solitary activities
  • emotionally constricted
  • indifferent to sex
  • no close friends*
  • aloof
  • indifferent to opinion

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

The Behavior Perspective


Want to avoid interpersonal relationships because others are intrusive and unrewarding (Beck & Freeman, pg. 120).


Detachment from social relationships, avoidance of opportunities for intimacy and close relationships, spending most of their time alone, almost always choosing solitary activities or hobbies, prefering mechanical or abstract tasks, showing little interest in having sexual experiences with another person, maintaining an indifference to the approval and criticism or others, not responding appropriately to social cues.

Difficulty expressing anger, lack of direction and goals, reacting passively to adverse circumstances, difficulty responding appropriately to important life events, lack of social skills, lack of desire for sexual experiences, forming few friendships, dating infrequently, often not marrying, occupational functioning often impaired (American Psychiatric Association, pp. 694-695).

Associated Disorders

Brief psychotic episodes, Delusional Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Schizophrenia (American Psychiatric Association, pg. 695).

Dysthymic Disorder, Social Phobia, Agoraphobia (Gunderson & Philips, pg. 1445).

The Life Story Perspective


"Retrospective assessment suggests that patients with schizoid personality disorder often have histories of grossly inadequate, cold, or neglectful early parenting, which often began early in life. Psychodynamic theories suggest that these traumatic experiences create an expectation that relationships will not be gratifying and a subsequent defensive withdrawal from others" (Gunderson & Philips, pg. 1445).

"A child born with an introverted, shy temperament may be constitutionally predisposed to developing this disorder, especially if the earliest parenting is cold, neglectful, insensitive, or hostile to the infant's disposition. Some psychodynamic theorists believe that individuals with this disorder remain completely unattached to people because they gave up early on any hope of gratification from others. Following their inborn temperamental style, perhaps they adapted to their unsatisfying environment by turning inward, away from any attachment to anyone" (Oldham, pp. 291-92).

Intrusive mothering, detached fathering.

Cognitive Effects

Basic Belief: I need plenty of space. [Strategy]: Isolation (Beck, Freeman & associates, pg. 26).

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, Arthur Freeman, and associates (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 the typical beliefs that they have listed (pg. 362) for Schizoid Personality Disorder:

  • It doesn't matter what other people think of me.
  • It is important for me to be free and independent of others.
  • I enjoy doing things more by myself than with other people.
  • In many situations, I am better off to be left alone.
  • I am not influenced by others in what I decide to do.
  • Intimate relations with other people are not important to me.
  • I set my own standards and goals for myself.
  • My privacy is much more important to me than closeness to people.
  • What other people think doesn't matter to me.
  • I can manage things on my own without anybody's help.
  • It's better to be alone than to feel "stuck" with other people.
  • I shouldn't confide in others.
  • I can use other people for my own purposes as long as I don't get involved.
  • Relationships are messy and interfere with freedom (362).
  • Relationships are problematic.
  • Life is less complicated without other people.
  • I am empty inside.
  • It is better for me to keep my distance and maintain a low profile.
  • I am a social misfit.
  • Life is bland and unfulfilling.

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

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.

Stone, Michael H. (1989). Personality Disorders: Schizoid 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.

Schizoid Personality Disorder: links

Personality Disorders



Summary - Personality Disorders
Copyright © 2012 Dave Kelly

Creative Commons License
PTypes Personality Types by Dave Kelly is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. (See Copyrights for details.)