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Schizotypal Personality Disorder
A Psychological Definition
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | May 17, 2022
Schizotypal Personality Disorder on the schizophrenia spectrum but strapped with less severe elements of psychosis
Is oddness a personality disorder? Most of us are a little odd at time. Perhaps, on occasion, a little quirkier than others. Oddness, by itself, is not a personality disorder, just a testimony to our beautiful individuality.
However, oddness could be related to schizotypal personality disorder. When extreme personality peculiarity cooccur with social and interpersonal deficits, perceptual disturbances and magical thinking the eccentric behavior may indicate the presence of schizotypal personality disorder. Individuals suffering from the this personality disorder are often described as eccentric or bizarre.
The social oddness most likely corresponds with the schizotypal person's difficulty with interpreting social cues. These interpersonal deficits limit the capacity of those diagnosed with this disorder to enjoy close relationships.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder is classified as an A-cluster personality disorder. The schizoid personality includes traits of social oddness, perceptual disturbances, and social deficits.
Common Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Common symptoms or this disorder includes:
DSM Classification of Personality Disorders
Schizotypal Personality Disorder was originally introduced in DSM-III, derived from two converging lines of investigation:
Personality Disorder Clusters
The DSM-IV-TR divides the ten recognized personality disorders into three clusters. Schizotypal personality disorder is a cluster 'A' personality disorders. Personality disorders in this cluster have traits centered around unhealthy “suspicion.” All three disorders (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal) in cluster 'A' are include traits found in the schizophrenia spectrum. This cluster describes personalities with odd and eccentric behaviors.
Ideas of reference are the false beliefs that random or irrelevant occurrences in the environment were directly caused by the person's thoughts, actions, or presence. (Every time I blink my eyes three times someone in the world dies). These irrational thoughts are referred to in psychology as ideas of reference.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Diagnosis
Five of the nine DSM specified criteria are required for diagnosis:
Perceptual disturbances are hallucinations or false percepts of any mode pf perception (audible, visual, tactile, etc...). Perception is the subjective process by which neural systems organizes and interprets sensory inputs from the environment.
There are five subtypes of schizophrenia (Catatonic schizophrenia, Disorganized schizophrenia, hebephrenic schizophrenia, Paranoid schizophrenia, Residual schizophrenia, and Undifferentiated schizophrenia).
The subtype is based on the primary symptoms. However, a client's subtype changes over time. Therefore, mental health professionals typically choose to classify patients with the broader categories listed as schizophrenia spectrum disorders instead of by a changing subtype.
Schizotypal personality disorder is included in the schizophrenia spectrum. There are three schizophrenia spectrum disorders:
Schizoaffective disorder is similar to schizophrenia but with major episodes of shifting moods such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder.
Schizophreniform disorder is identical to schizophrenia but with a shorter duration of symptoms, typically longer than a month but shorter than six months.
Schizotypal personality disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is similar to schizophrenia, but the schizophrenic episodes are not as frequent, prolonged or intense. Individuals with Schizotypal personality disorder can usually be shown that their distorted ideas and experiences are not reality. Patients with this disorder "are spared the chronic psychosis of schizophrenia" (Kirrane & Siever, 2000).
Schizotypal Personality Disorder Causes and Risk Factors
Schizotypal personality disorder, like most mental illnesses, is not caused by any single factor. Studies have identified a genetic link. However, possessing the genetics only create a vulnerability to the disease and not an inevitability.
A couple psychological concepts and lines of theory and study can help us better understand illness vulnerability versus inevitability. A new topic of research in genetics is referred to as epigenetics.
In epigenetic studies, researchers examine the environmental impact on gene expression. Science has discovered that "our DNA sequences do not unbudgingly create who we are. A gene is subject to external influences that may activate gene expression" (Murphy, 2021). A person may inherit the genetic makeup attributed to schizotypal personality disorder, however, their environment may not lead to the gene expression of the disease.
Another model that provides insight into disease expression is the diathesis stress model. In the diathesis stress model it is "hypothesizes that psychological disorders develop as a result of interactions between pre-dispositional vulnerabilities (the diathesis), and stress from life experiences" (Murphy, 2021).
Several studies have found an associative link between schizotypal personality disorder and psychological trauma (Berenbaum et al., 2008).
Treatment for Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Because of the strong underlying genetic causes, schizotypal personality disorder is not considered a curable disease. However, the illness can be treated by addressing the individual symptoms. Both medication and therapy has been shown to help patients manage moods and improve functionality.
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Berenbaum, H., Thompson, R., Milanak, M., Boden, M., & Bredemeier, K. (2008). Psychological Trauma and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117(3), 502-519.
Kirrane, R., & Siever, L. (2000). New perspectives on schizotypal personality disorder. Current Psychiatry Reports, 2(1), 62-66.
Murphy, T. Franklin (2021). Epigenetics. Flourishing Life Society. Published 11-9-2021. Accessed 5-17-2022.
Murphy, T. Franklin (2021) Diathesis Stress Model. Flourishing Life Society. Published 9-7-2021. Accessed 5-17-2022.
Rosell, D., Futterman, S., McMaster, A., & Siever, L. (2014). Schizotypal Personality Disorder: A Current Review. Current Psychiatry Reports, 16(7), 1-12.
Rosenfarb, I.S., Juan, M.A. (2006). Schizotypal Personality Disorder. In: Fisher, J.E., O’Donohue, W.T. (eds) Practitioner’s Guide to Evidence-Based Psychotherapy. Springer, Boston, MA .
Siever, L., Chemerinski, E., Triebwasser, J., & Roussos, P. (2013). Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27(5), 652-679.
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