Schizotypal personality disorder

Definition 
Schizotypal personality disorder is a psychiatric condition characterized by a pattern of deficiency in interpersonal relationships and disturbances in thought patterns, appearance, and behavior.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors 

The cause is unknown, but schizotypal personality disorder is believed to have a genetic component. There is an increased incidence in relatives of schizophrenics.

Schizotypal personality disorder should not be confused with schizophrenia. People with schizotypal personality disorder tend to have odd beliefs and behaviors, but they are not profoundly disconnected from reality and usually do not hallucinate. (Hallucinations, delusions, and complete unawareness of reality are hallmarks of untreated or unsucessfully treated schizophrenia).

Symptoms  

People with schizotypal personality disorder may be severely disturbed, and their odd behavior may resemble that of people with schizophrenia. They may have unusual preoccupations and fears, such as fears of being monitored by government agencies, which are also common in schizophrenia.

More commonly, however, people with schizotypal personality disorder simply behave oddly and have unusual beliefs (aliens, witchcraft, etc.) that they cling to so strongly that it isolates them from normal relationships. Full-blown hallucinations are unusual.

Signs and tests 

Some of the common signs of schizotypal personality disorder include the following:

     
  • Discomfort in social situations  
  • Odd beliefs, fantasies, or preoccupations  
  • Odd behavior or appearance  
  • Odd speech  
  • No close friends  
  • Inappropriate displays of feelings

Treatment  

Some people may be helped by antipsychotic medications, but in many cases talk therapy is preferred.

Expectations (prognosis) 

The outcome varies with the severity of the disorder. Schizotypal personality disorder is usually a chronic illness that can be treated but not cured.

Complications 

     
  • Poor social skills  
  • Lack of interpersonal relationships

Calling your health care provider 

Talk to your health care provider or mental health professional if you have trouble forming and keeping relationships due to unusual beliefs or suspect that your child may have this problem.

Prevention 

There is no known prevention. Awareness of risk, such as a family history of schizophrenia, may allow early diagnosis.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Harutyun Medina, M.D.

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