Why do some people have no personality

Schizoid personality disorder

Daniel is 55 years old and works as a chemist. He reports that he has met a woman once a week for eight years to watch a movie and have sexual intercourse. Otherwise he has no personal contacts. He states that he doesn't understand why other people spend time together. Daniel sees himself as inconspicuous. In the past 40 years, however, he has been in therapy several times for fears.

Daniel tells about his childhood that his mother was seriously ill and spent a lot of time in clinics when he was two to four years old. During this time he lived with his grandmother. Then his mother died and he lived with his father and his new wife. Before he had hardly known his father, and in the years that followed he was rarely at home. During this time Daniel probably developed the attitude: "It is not a good idea to form bonds with other people because they will likely leave me again." Daniel avoided contact and relationships with others in his childhood and youth. He also reports that there is hardly anything that gives him pleasure.

While studying chemistry, Daniel often experienced fears and panic attacks. This was also the case in his profession, when he had to take on tasks where he had to collaborate with others.

In therapy, Daniel is encouraged to spend more time with other people. He can do this too - but states that he doesn't really understand why he should do it.

Transitions to normality - schizoid personality style (according to Kuhl & Kazén)

People with a schizoid personality style - which is similar to, but less pronounced, a schizoid personality disorder - are solitary and reluctant to socialize. They have a preference for activities that they can do alone. Furthermore, they are relatively indifferent to praise and criticism and tend to be objective, sober behavior. Many live as singles and work in professions that are easy to do alone, for example work at the computer or in shift work. They are often successful in these professions and are also recognized by the fact that - due to their lack of social ties - they can be used flexibly in terms of time and location.

What are the typical symptoms of schizoid personality disorder?

Characteristics according to DSM: There is a profound behavior pattern that is characterized by aloofness in social relationships and a limited range in the expression of feelings. The disorder usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, but it can also appear earlier. It makes itself felt in a wide variety of situations.

The symptoms cannot be traced back to an organic cause and do not occur exclusively in the course of another mental disorder - in particular schizophrenia, an affective disorder with delusional symptoms or a profound developmental disorder (a pronounced disorder of communication and social relationships that has occurred early childhood). According to the DSM, at least four of the following criteria must be met:

  1. Those affected neither desire nor enjoy close relationships. This also includes being part of a family.
  2. They prefer solitary ventures whenever possible.
  3. They have little, if any, interest in sexual experiences with another person.
  4. Few, if any, activities give them pleasure.
  5. They have no close friends or confidants other than first degree relatives.
  6. They appear indifferent to praise and criticism.
  7. You appear emotionally cold and distant or you only show limited feelings.

These characteristics are very similar to the ICD-10 criteria.

How common is schizoid personality disorder?

It is estimated that less than one percent of the population has schizoid personality disorder. Compared to other personality disorders, it is relatively rare. This probably affects a little more men than women.

What are possible causes of schizoid personality disorder?

As with personality disorders, an interplay of biological, psychological and environmental factors is assumed to be the cause. +

It is assumed that those affected are genetically predisposed - because the disorder occurs more frequently in families in which a member has schizophrenia. It is assumed that there is a particularly high level of sensitivity and irritability for genetic reasons.

If there are also difficult conditions in childhood such as emotional neglect, abuse or psychological disorders of the parents, this can promote the development of the disorder.

From a psychoanalytical point of view, it is assumed that the parents behaved negatively or abused their children. It is also assumed that those affected repeatedly tried to make contact with others in their childhood and repeatedly experienced that they did not react at all or in a negative way. This could have resulted in them becoming extremely withdrawn and now avoiding any form of contact.

Another assumption is that while people with schizoid personality disorder experience feelings such as anger or fear, they cannot express them adequately - and thus avoid contacts and closer relationships altogether.

From a cognitive-behavioral therapeutic point of view, it is assumed that those affected have difficulties in perceiving subtle indications of feelings in others and therefore hardly react to stimuli that trigger feelings. In addition, constant social isolation could mean that they have deficits in their social skills and therefore find it difficult to develop satisfactory relationships.