The ‘Flat Affect’

The ‘Flat Affect’

Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) is characterized by a long-standing pattern of detachment from social relationships. People with schizoid personality disorder are often detached from social relationships, and experience difficulty in expressing emotions, or do so in a restricted range and intensity.

For people with SPD, they often appear to lack a desire for intimacy, and will avoid close relationships with others. They usually prefer to spend time with themselves rather than socialize or be in a group of people. This behavior does not come from a contempt or anxiety from being around other people; rather, people with SPD are more or less indifferent to social experiences.

Some of the major symptoms of SPD include: showing neither desire nor joy for close relationships, high preference for solitary activities, lacking close friends or confidants, indifference to the praise or criticism of others, and emotional coldness, detachment, or flattened affectivity. (Bressert, 2014)

This ‘flat affect’ is common in people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, autism spectrum disorders, PTSD, depression, depersonalization disorder and brain damage. The flat affect refers specifically to the severely reduced or no signs of emotional reactivity in an individual, and usually manifests when one would usually show emotion. In people with SPD, the flat affect varies from failure to show emotion even when it is present, and an actual lack of emotional affectivity in certain situations.

Because of the nature of schizoid personality disorder, most people with it are able to function relatively well in their day-to-day lives, and are not as hindered by their personality disorder. People with SPD rarely seek a diagnosis or treatment on their own unless a conflict arises, or aspects of the disorder start to have an impact in their lives. Due to this, treatment plans for people with SPD are rarely long term. Solution-focused therapy are the most common treatments for schizoid personality disorder, although more research needs to be conducted to assess how longer term therapy may benefit people with this disorder.


Bressert, S. (2014). Schizoid Personality Disorder Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 11, 2016, from

Vidya Koesmahargyo

Although my interest in working in medicine predates the start of my college career, it was only recently that I developed an affinity for medical research. I was part of the Carl Sagan Program in my high school, where we took classes on how to successfully conduct our own research projects and present them. After conducting my own at the end of my senior year, I felt that research was certainly a field I’d like to pursue. I have struggled with mental health issues myself, so it was both a personal and academic curiosity that led me to the Humanology Project. I hope to shed some light on the gritty topics that still struggle to be included in the discourse on public health. In my spare hours, I consume copious amounts of poetry, ambient music, and embark on the occasional urban exploration.

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