Schizotypal

This is a very serious mental illness, same part of the family as Schizophrenia.

Definition

Schizotypal personality disorder is a serious condition in which a person usually has few to no intimate relationships. These people tend to turn inward rather than interact with others, and experience extreme anxiety in social situations.

People with schizotypal personality disorder often have trouble engaging with others and appear emotionally distant. They find their social isolation painful, and eventually develop distorted perceptions about how interpersonal relationships form. They may also exhibit odd behaviors, respond inappropriately to social cues and hold peculiar beliefs.

Schizotypal personality disorder typically begins in early adulthood and may endure throughout life. There’s no cure for schizotypal personality disorder, but psychotherapy and some medications may help. Some research suggests that positive childhood experiences may help reduce symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder in affected young people.

Symptoms

People with classic schizotypal personalities are apt to be loners, having few to no intimate relationships. They exhibit extreme anxiety in social situations, often associated more with distrust and an inability to communicate with others than with a negative self-image. They view themselves as alien or outcast, and this isolation causes pain as they disengage more and more from relationships and the outside world.

People with schizotypal personalities often have odd patterns of speech and ramble endlessly on tangents to a topic of conversation. They may dress in peculiar ways and have very strange ways of viewing the world around them. Often they harbor unusual ideas, such as believing in the powers of ESP or a sixth sense. At times, they believe they can magically influence people’s thoughts, actions and emotions.

In adolescence, signs of a schizotypal personality may begin as a gravitation toward solitary activities or a high level of social anxiety. The child may be an underperformer in school or appear socially out-of-step with peers, and as a result often becomes the subject of bullying or teasing.

Symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder include:

  • Incorrect interpretation of events, including feeling that external events have personal meaning
  • Peculiar thinking, beliefs or behavior
  • Belief in special powers, such as telepathy
  • Perceptual alterations, in some cases bodily illusions, including phantom pains or other distortions in the sense of touch
  • Idiosyncratic speech, such as loose or vague patterns of speaking or tendency to go off on tangents
  • Suspicious or paranoid ideas
  • Flat emotions or inappropriate emotional responses
  • Lack of close friends outside of the immediate family
  • Persistent and excessive social anxiety that doesn’t abate with time

Schizotypal personality disorder can easily be confused with schizophrenia, which is characterized by intense psychosis, a severe mental state characterized by a loss of contact with reality. While people with schizotypal personalities may experience brief psychotic episodes with delusions or hallucinations, they are not as pronounced, frequent or intense as in schizophrenia.

Another key distinction between schizotypal personality disorder and schizophrenia is that people with the personality disorder usually can distinguish between their distorted ideas and reality. Those with schizophrenia generally can’t be swayed from their delusions.

Both disorders, along with schizoid personality disorder, belong to what’s generally referred to as the schizophrenic spectrum. Schizotypal personality falls in the middle of the spectrum, with schizoid personality disorder on the milder end and schizophrenia on the more severe end.

When to see a doctor
Because personality tends to become entrenched as people age, it’s best to seek treatment for a personality disorder as early as possible.

People with schizotypal personality are likely to seek help only at the urging of friends or relatives. If you suspect a friend or family member may have the disorder, be on the lookout for certain signs. You might gently suggest that the person seek medical attention, starting with a primary care physician or mental health provider.

Causes

Your personality is the sum total of the ways you think, feel, behave and react to your environment. It derives from a combination of genetics and early life experience. When someone chronically feels or behaves in an inappropriate way, that person has a personality disorder.

In normal development, children progress through several stages of social awareness and learn to accurately interpret the cues and intentions of others. For people with schizotypal personalities this social cognition is impaired, leading to development of illogical beliefs, magical thinking and paranoid thoughts, such as a nagging suspicion that one is being harassed, persecuted or treated unfairly.

The exact reason or cause of this impairment is unknown. Some experts contend that childhood abuse, neglect or stress results in the brain dysfunction that gives rise to schizotypal symptoms. Both genetics and environmental circumstances appear to play a role in development of the disorder.

A family history — such as having a parent who has schizophrenia or schizotypal personality disorder — increases your chances of developing the condition. A number of environmental factors also may contribute, such as a neglectful or abusive childhood home.

Risk factors

Personality development is mostly affected by genetic tendencies. Environmental factors, such as stressful childhood experiences, also may play a role. Factors that increase the risk of developing the schizotypal personality disorder include:

  • Having a relative who has schizophrenia
  • Living in a childhood environment of deprivation or neglect
  • Experiencing child abuse or mistreatment
  • Undergoing a childhood trauma
  • Having an emotionally detached parent

Complications

People with schizotypal personality disorder are at an increased risk of:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Major depression
  • Anxiety disorder, characterized by prolonged worry or uneasiness
  • Dysthymia, a low-grade depressed mood that continues for more than two years
  • Panic disorder, characterized by sudden bouts of heart-pounding terror
  • Social phobia, characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations
  • Avoidant personality disorder, characterized by a pervasive pattern of social inhibition and feelings of ineptness
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder, characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors
  • Borderline personality disorder, characterized by a constant state of emotional turmoil

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It’s a very sad and serious mental illness that can greatly affect someone’s life. I should know, I have it.

All facts were taken from: www.mayoclinic.com

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Published in: on February 2, 2009 at 7:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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