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What are Schizotypal Personality Disorders?

written by: M. Staker • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 9/3/2010

Find out what schizotypal personality disorders are and how they differ from schizophrenia. I will also look at how the disorders are caused and what some of the most common symptoms are.

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    Explanation of Schizotypal Personality Disorders

    Schizotypal personality disorders are psychological disorders that cause individuals to display abnormal, eccentric behavior. Individuals with the disorder tend to avoid interacting with other people and are noticeably anxious when interaction with others is necessary, even if they are familiar with the people and places that they are exposed to.

    Because of this social anxiety, they maintain very few, if any, intimate relationships. This disorder usually becomes noticeable in early adulthood and can continue throughout life, and like other personality disorders, it usually becomes less intense as the person ages. Because schizotypal personality disorder shares many of the same characteristics as schizophrenia, it is often confused with it, but people with schizotypal personality disorder do not experience the hallucinations and the disconnection from reality that is associated with schizophrenia. However, in time, some people with this disorder may develop schizophrenia. Up to 50% of individuals with this disorder also have a major depressive disorder and some will have paranoid personality disorder.

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    Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorders

    Individuals with schizotypal personality disorders share some common characteristics. Depending on the severity of the disorder, these characteristics will be more or less prominent. The most typical characteristics of schizotypal personality disorder are abnormal thinking patterns, odd appearance, and unusual behavior. People with this disorder often strongly believe in superstitions, paranormal phenomenon, conspiracy theories, witchcraft, and other unusual beliefs. They have a skewed view of reality because they spend much of their time fantasizing or daydreaming. They do not conform to current fashion trends, which seems to even further isolate them from their peers. These behaviors are what lead many to believe that these individuals are actually suffering from schizophrenia.

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    Outlook for Individuals with Schizotypal Personality Disorders

    Individuals who have schizotypal personality disorders rarely get treatment for the actual disorder, though they may seek treatment for the symptoms. In most cases, the disorder lessens in intensity over time, but in some instances the disorder either becomes more intense, or the individual develops other disorders which may complicate things even more.

    Since there are no laboratory tests available that can diagnose the disorder, it often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed with another type of personality disorder. In order to obtain a correct diagnosis, experts must perform a wide variety of diagnostic tests. Even with a proper diagnosis, there is no cure for schizotypal personality disorders, although there are treatment options available that can be beneficial.

    The exact cause of the disorder is still unknown, though researchers believe that it may be due to genetics. The reason for this belief is the fact that individuals who are closely related to someone with schizophrenia are more likely to develop schizotypal personality disorders than those who are not.

    Since the disorder is often misdiagnosed, it is difficult to determine how common it is, but it appears to only affect about 3% of the general population.