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What are the Causes of Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Personality disorders are common with up to 15% of the population suffering from some form of personality disturbance. One of the most intriguing is schizotypal personality, a personality disorder that’s surprisingly common, but not always recognized or understood.
Around three out of every ten personality disorders falls under the category of schizotypal personality, where a person displays odd thought patterns and behaviors that seem different or bizarre to other people. What are the causes of schizotypal personality disorder?
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Schizotypal Personality Disorder: Strange Behaviors and Thought Patterns
Schizotypal personality disorder shares some features with the mental disorder schizophrenia. People with schizotypal personality are often loners and seem paranoid, unapproachable and suspicious. Like schizophrenics, they have distorted thought patterns and beliefs, and, in extreme cases, they can experience psychotic delusions or hallucinations, particularly under stress. In some cases, a schizotypal personality can disintegrate into frank schizophrenia.
Schizotypal personality’s similarity to schizophrenia offers clues as to possible causes of this disorder. People with this personality type are more likely to have relatives with schizophrenia than are normal people. Despite the similarities, schizophrenia is a distinct diagnosis, and it’s important to differentiate between the two, and not assume schizotypal personality disorder is a milder form of schizophrenia.
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Are the Causes of Schizotypal Personality Related to Genetics?
It seems as if most illnesses, both mental and physical, have some genetic component - and this holds true for schizotypal personality. Because of the high likelihood of a person with this disorder having a close family member with schizophrenia, one might assume that the two conditions are similar – and they do share common features.
Like schizophrenia, most experts believe genetics play a role in schizotypal personality, but they also emphasize the importance of environmental factors. In particular, early life experiences play a part in whether or not a person develops a schizotypal personality.
Events such as abuse or neglect during childhood or extreme emotional or physical trauma can trigger the disordered thought patterns that are so characteristic of a person with schizotypal personality disorder. In the absence of a genetic susceptibility, these events might not have such a pronounced or permanent impact.
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The Exact Cause of Schizotypal Personality is Still Unknown
Precisely what causes schizotypal personality disorder is still unknown, but most experts agree that both environment and genetics play a role in bringing on this personality illness. Because schizotypal personality has some features of schizophrenia, one might speculate that people with this personality disorder have similar chemical imbalances in the brain as schizophrenics. This has been confirmed by some studies showing that people with schizotypal personality disorder have imbalances in the neurotransmitter dopamine, as do schizophrenics.
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What are the Causes of Schizotypal Personality Disorder: The Bottom Line?
As complex as the brain is, researchers still haven’t pinpointed the precise cause of schizotypal personality. It’s likely an interplay between environment and genetics - and may also involve changes in neurotransmitters levels such as dopamine. Hopefully, further research will shed light on the causes of this perplexing personality disorder.
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Current Psychosis and Therapeutics Reports. Volume 3, Number 4, 162-168.
E-medicine. “Personality Disorders"
Psychological Reports, 94(2), 387-397.