Schizoid Personality Disorder Symptoms and Treatments

Aloofness is one symptom of schizoid personality disorder.

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Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) is a chronic and pervasive condition characterized by social isolation and feelings of indifference toward other people. Those who suffer from this disorder are often described as distant or withdrawn.

People with this condition avoid social situations that involve interaction with other people. They find it difficult to express emotions and lack the desire to form close personal relationships.

This type of personality disorder is believed to be relatively rare and tends to affect more men than women. Individuals with schizoid personality disorder are also at risk of experiencing depression.


Individuals with schizoid personality disorder typically experience:

  • Detachment from other people
  • Little or no desire to form close relationships with others
  • Infrequent participation in activities for fun or pleasure
  • A sense of indifference to praise and affirmation, as well as to criticism or rejection
  • Often described as cold, uninterested, withdrawn, and aloof
  • Does not enjoy social or family relationships
  • Indifference to social norms and expectations
  • A preoccupation with introspection and fantasy

The DSM-5 defines schizoid personality disorder as a "pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity form, 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."

People with schizoid personality disorder are often described by others as aloof, cold, and detached. Those who suffer from the disorder may prefer being alone, but some may also experience loneliness and social isolation as a result.

The disorder usually first becomes noticeable during childhood and is usually apparent by early adulthood. The symptoms of the disorder can have an impact on multiple life domains including family relationships, school, and work.

Those with this disorder tend to have few friendships, date rarely and often do not marry. The symptoms of the disorder may also make it difficult to work in positions that require a lot of social interaction or people skills, and those with a schizoid personality disorder may do better in jobs that involve working in solitude.

Schizoid Personality Disorder or Schizophrenia

While schizoid personality disorder is viewed on the schizophrenia spectrum disorders and shares some common symptoms with schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder, there are important distinctions that separate SPD from those two disorders.

Those with SPD rarely experience paranoia or hallucinations. Also, while they may seem aloof and distant during conversations, they do make sense when they speak, which differs from the difficult to follow speech patterns that often accompany those suffering from schizophrenia.


The causes of schizoid personality disorder are not known, although it is believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a role. Personality is shaped by a wide variety of factors including inherited traits and tendencies, childhood experiences, parenting, education, and social interactions. All of these factors may play some part in contributing to the development of SPD.


If you are concerned about your symptoms, you may start by consulting your doctor. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and check for any underlying medical conditions that might be contributing to your symptoms. In most cases, you will likely then be referred to a mental health professional. 

The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria state that people must display at least four of the following symptoms in order to be diagnosed with SPD:

  1. Lack of desire or enjoyment for close personal relationships
  2. Always chooses solitary activities
  3. Little or no interest in sex with other people
  4. Experiences little pleasure from activities
  5. No close friends other than immediate family
  6. Indifference to criticism or praise
  7. Emotional detachment and lack of emotional expression

Schizoid personality disorder is most often diagnosed by a psychiatrist or another mental health professional who is trained to diagnose and treat personality disorders. General practitioners often lack the training to make this type of diagnosis, especially since the condition is so uncommon and is often confused with other mental disorders. 

People who have schizoid personality disorder rarely seek out treatment on their own. It is often only after the condition has severely interrupted multiple areas of a person's life that treatment is sought. 


Schizoid personality disorder can be challenging to treat. Those with the disorder often do not seek treatment and may struggle with psychotherapy because they find it difficult to develop working relationships with a therapist. The social isolation that characterizes schizoid personality disorder also makes it difficult to find support and assistance.

Individuals with schizoid personality disorder may find it easier to form relationships that center on intellectual, occupational, or recreational pursuits because such relationships do not rely on self-disclosure and emotional intimacy.

Medications may be used to treat some of the symptoms of schizoid personality disorder such as anxiety and depression. Such medications are usually used in conjunction with other treatment options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or group therapy. CBT can be helpful in helping people with SPD identify problematic thoughts and behaviors and develop new coping skills. Group therapy may help people practice interpersonal skills.

One-on-one therapy can seem intimidating for people with this condition since it requires a great deal of social interaction. Such treatments may be most effective when mental health professionals are careful to avoid pushing too hard and clients are not faced with excessive pressure and emotional demands.

The condition is usually enduring, chronic, and lifelong. With support and effective treatment, people can continue to live functional lives.

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Article Sources

  • American Psychiatric Association, ed. Schizotypal Personality Disorder, 301.22 (F21). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013.

  • Schizoid personality disorder. MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine.