Personality disorders characterised by odd or eccentric thinking are often referred to as ‘Cluster A’ personality disorders. This cluster can be subdivided into schizotypal, paranoid and shizoid disorders. For any of these to be diagnosed, the symptoms must be both chronic and cause real difficulties to the sufferer’s ability to function in everyday life.
Patients with schizotypal personality disorders, as the name suggests, may share some symptoms with schizophrenics. ‘Magical’ thinking is not uncommon here - sufferers may believe in imaginary worlds or beings, or that they have some form of superhuman ability like telepathy. This may result from impaired senses of perception and may coincide with a withdrawal from others, discomfort in social situations, talking to themselves, inappropriate dress/manner and unpredictable emotional responses to social gestures. In some cases, patients will perceive hidden messages for them in public political address or art. This disorder is commonly treated with a mixture of drugs and some psychotherapy such as CBT.
As might be expected from the disorder’s name, sufferers of paranoid personality disorders are prone to suspicion of everyone and everything, from their governments to corporations to their closest family members or partners. The nature of these suspicions varies greatly but usually comes back to a root fear of being deceived or exploited. Like schizotypal patients, they may also engage in ‘deciphering’ public addresses or ordinary conversations for hidden meanings. These behaviours often lead to these individuals being perceived as either cold and distant or hostile and accusatory and makes relationships a challenge. The treatment method is much the same as that of schizotypal disorders, though extra effort is often required to gain the trust of a patient with paranoid personality disorder in order to fulfill the psychotherapeutic side.
The prefix ‘schizo’ originates from the Greek skhizo meaning ‘division’ or ‘split’1. This idea can be seen in the behaviour of individuals exhibiting a schizoid personality disorder.Often appearing dull, indifferent, cold or even aloof to others, these sufferers experience a large sense of apathy or detachment from relationships and social functions in general. They care neither for praise or criticism, often fail to correctly read social cues leading to an avoidance of social activities, and may possess a stunted range of emotional expressions to go with this. It is treated with similar techniques to schizotypal disorders, as are many personality disorders.
1. >Douglas Harper (). schizo-. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=schizo-&allowed_in_frame=0. [Last Accessed 9.12.2013].
Kendra Cherry (). What are Personality Disorders? [ONLINE] Available at: psychology.about.com/od/personalitydisorders/a/personalitydis.htm. [Last Accessed 9.12.2013].
Mayo Clinic staff (2010). Personality Disorders - Symptoms. [ONLINE] Available at: www.mayoclinic.com/health/personality-disorders/DS00562/DSECTION=symptoms. [Last Accessed 9.12.2013].