Schizotypal personality disorder is an illness on the schizophrenic spectrum. The condition is more severe than schizoid personality disorder but less intense than schizophrenia. Paranoid delusions and psychotic episodes may occur, but not with the same severity as with schizophrenia. Although the exact schizotypal personality disorder causes are unknown, research suggests that it occurs due to a combination of genetics and environmental factors.
What Is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Social interaction is extremely difficult for people with schizotypal personality disorder. As a result, they tend to go out of their way to avoid contact with others. Many don’t understand how interpersonal relationships work, and they typically have few meaningful relationships.
People with schizotypal personality disorder also tend to exhibit erratic behavior and ways of thinking. They may dress oddly or become hyperfocused on trivial details while speaking. Many are paranoid, and some believe they have special abilities to influence other people and situations. They are prone to delusions and occasional psychotic episodes.
Schizotypal Personality and Genetics
Like many other personality disorders, there may be a genetic component to schizotypal personality disorder. Research indicates that people have an increased risk of developing schizotypal personality disorder if one or both parents have an illness on the schizophrenic spectrum. However, environment, upbringing and early childhood experiences also seem to play pivotal role in the development of a schizotypal personality. For now, the exact relationship between personality and genetics remains unclear.
Environmental Causes of Schizotypal Disorder
A person’s early experiences can put him at risk for developing schizotypal personality disorder. During childhood development, some children never learn to correctly interpret social cues and respond appropriately to others. They may also develop illogical thought patterns and paranoia, which are both early symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder.
This social malfunctioning often happens due to unfulfilling early relationships. Many people with schizotypal personality disorder had parents who were cold, inconsistent or overly formal. In addition, people with this disorder may have been hurt or humiliated by their parents or peers when they were children. As a result, they learned quickly to distrust others and retreat into their own world, where they felt safe. Children who have symptoms resembling schizotypal personality disorder tend to be socially awkward, have very low self-esteem and consider themselves unworthy of friendship. In general, childhood abuse, trauma or neglect places people at an increased risk of developing schizotypal personality disorder.
The Schizophrenic Spectrum
Schizotypal personality disorder, along with schizoid personality disorder and schizophrenia, is part of the schizophrenic spectrum. Because of the similarity between these three illnesses, new knowledge about the causes of schizophrenia and schizoid personality disorder may also help researchers understand underlying schizotypal personality disorder causes.
Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Schizotypal-personality-disorder.html
Grohol, J. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx33.htm
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 22, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizotypal-personality-disorder/DS00830