In as much as I loathe the school of Freudian thought, Harry Guntrip’s extensive work with schizoids is truly remarkable. He identified nine characteristics of schizoid personality which are introversion, withdrawness, narcissism, self-sufficiency, a sense of superiority, loss of affect, loneliness, depersonalization, and regression. Introversion is a preference to turn into the safety of the inner world, because outer reality is dangerous. Withdrawness may not necessarily be timidity or obvious reluctance to engage with others, but refers to emotional withdrawness. Schizoids may present themselves as engaging and interested as a defense/coping mechanism. Narcissism arises from having love objects to be internal, so the need for attachment towards the outside is trumped because there is enough satisfaction from the inside. Self-sufficiency is developed to avoid depending on the outside world, which provokes anxieties to a schizoid. Sense of superiority borders on being different from other people because there is no need to be with them, thereby creating distance from them. Loss of affect is often presented as a genuine confusion from the inability to identify how one’s affect influences other people. Schizoids also often come across as cynical, callous, and cruel. Loneliness is a result of feeling lost in a crowd. Despite their cold exterior, schizoids often have a longing for love and friendship, but may or may not actually break through. Depersonalization is a dissociative defense, especially when anxiety is overwhelming. It involves a complete tuning out, almost like a switch to turn off emotions to cope with anxiety. Regression involves turning inward and backwards to the ultimate safe place which is a metaphorical womb.
In essence, it appears to be a little inconsistent with the DSM or ICD criteria for a pd, but nevertheless presents a unique type of individual that may easily be misunderstood by others. And although it is possible to form relationships with schizoids, despite their aloofness, it has to be in their own terms so it becomes more appealing than isolation. And the general agreement for the relationship terms being one that demands very little emotional expectation to prevent unwanted anxieties.
Diagnostic criteria for SPD includes:
- Takes pleasure in few, if any, activities
- Does not desire or enjoy close relationships, including family
- Appear aloof and detached
- Avoid social activities that involve significant contact with other people
- Almost always chooses solitary activities
- Little or no interest in sexual experiences with another person
- Lacks close relationships other than with immediate relatives
- Indifferent to praise or criticism
- Shows emotional coldness, detachment or flattened affect
- Exhibits little observable change in mood
So is it so bad to have these traits that it has to warrant a diagnosis? Or is it just an unusual kind of personality typology? I really don’t mind being stereotyped with a PD. After all, everyone has a little of the crazies, to an extent.
Image is from: http://secretschizoid.com/?p=37