Schizotypal personality disorders are some of the most difficult mental illnesses to diagnose. This is partly because the social withdrawal and eccentric behavior seen with schizotypal personality disorder can be signs of other disorders. In addition, people with this personality disorder rarely seek out help on their own initiative; instead, they live with untreated symptoms for years. According to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (2010), only about 3 percent of the population is diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Basics
People with schizotypal personality disorder are socially withdrawn and isolated. Often perceived to be “loners,” they typically have no interest in forming social connections with others and often have no close friends. They may feel out of place when interacting with other people, or like they don’t fit in. In addition, people with this disorder tend to exhibit eccentric behavior and thought patterns. Schizotypal personality disorder is related to schizophrenia, but it does not cause the severe paranoid delusions common to schizophrenia.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Test
Anyone exhibiting signs of schizotypal personality disorder should first see a physician to rule out any physical causes of the symptoms. However, an official diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder is typically made by a psychiatrist. Personality disorders can only be diagnosed in people at least 18 years old, even though symptoms can first appear in adolescence or childhood.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders” (DSM), a person must exhibit at least five of the following symptoms in order to receive a diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder:
- Eccentric behavior or appearance
- Lack of close relationships
- Odd perceptual experiences
- Social anxiety that doesn’t improve with familiarity
- Strange beliefs or magical thinking
- Suspicious and paranoid thoughts
- Tendency to be aloof or emotionally unresponsive
- Tendency to incorrectly interpret situations or other people’s words and actions
- Unusual patterns of thought and speech.
A psychiatrist typically identifies these symptoms during a clinical interview. However, a personality disorder test may also help pinpoint additional symptoms. A schizotypal test may include:
- Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI-II)
- Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2)
- Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test
- Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).
In order to give an accurate diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder, the psychiatrist must rule out any other illnesses that can cause similar symptoms. For example, schizoid personality disorder is very similar to schizotypal disorder, but schizotypal personalities have more difficulty understanding how interpersonal relationships work. Schizotypal personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder are also similar, but noticeably eccentric behavior isn’t common in people with avoidant personality disorder. And although schizotypal personality disorder is on the schizophrenic spectrum, psychotic episodes are far less common and briefer than with schizophrenia.
Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Schizotypal-personality-disorder.html
Grohol, J. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://psychcentral.com/disorders/sx33.htm
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2010). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved October 25, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizotypal-personality-disorder/DS00830