Schizotypal personality disorder (StPD) is characterized by acute discomfort or reduced capacity for close relationships, as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities. (Bressert) Schizotypal personality disorder is a particularly severe personality disorder because of its adverse effects of psychosocial functioning in an individual. In a study by Skodol et. al, “patients with schizotypal and borderline personality disorder have significantly more impairment at work, in social relationships, and at leisure than patients with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or major depressive disorder; patients with avoidant personality disorder were intermediate.” Some of the reasons for this can be attributed to the nature of the more severe personality disorder. People with borderline personality have heightened emotional responses and therefore unstable interpersonal relationships, which leads to many aspects of their psychosocial impairment. But how do the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder bring about these effects?
People with schizotypal personality usually have trouble making and maintaining social relationships. Often, their odd beliefs and unusual perceptual experiences can make it harder for them to relate to others. To strangers, people with StPD may come off strange and anxious. To people they have gotten close with, people with StPD may have trouble expressing the appropriate emotions in certain situations, which could weaken their relationship.
When people with StPD experience anxiety, they tend to focus on paranoid fears instead of negative judgments about the self. Sometimes, even with people they are familiar with, they can still become more suspicious and paranoid towards them. These anxieties can often cause them to further isolate themselves, or intensify any feelings of isolation that are already present.
This social anxiety also has a biological link. In a study by McCarley et. al, people with StPD have reduced gray matter in certain areas of the brain. The researchers also looked to see whether gray matter deficits in the schizotypal subjects could be significantly linked to their symptoms such as introversion, social isolation, and reduced emotions.
It is important for people to understand how certain disorders affect the person with them in everyday situations, especially if it affects the social aspect of their functioning. We should extend our empathy and understanding toward someone who makes an effort at making conversation with them even if we can’t truly follow their thought process, and not dismiss them based on how they communicate.
Bressert, S. (2014). Schizotypal Personality Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 24, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/schizotypal-personality-disorder-symptoms/
Skodol, A. E., Gunderson, J. G., Mcglashan, T. H., Dyck, I. R., Stout, R. L., Bender, D. S., Oldham, J. M. (2002). Functional Impairment in Patients With Schizotypal, Borderline, Avoidant, or Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry AJP, 159(2), 276-283. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11823271
Arehart-Treichel, J. (2013, April 5). Schizotypal Personality Disorder Linked to Brain Changes. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.pn.2013.4a1