People with personality disorders have long-standing patterns of thinking and acting that differ from what society considers usual or normal. The inflexibility of their personality can cause great distress, and can interfere with many areas of life, including social and work functioning. People with personality disorders generally also have poor coping skills and difficulty forming healthy relationships.
Unlike people with anxiety disorders, who know they have a problem but are unable to control it, people with personality disorders generally are not aware that they have a problem and do not believe they have anything to control.
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For Barbara Smith, a 45-year-old homemaker from Madison, N.C., confessing
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Schizotypal personality disorder is one of a group of conditions called eccentric personality disorders. People with these disorders often appear odd or peculiar. They may display unusual thinking patterns, behaviors, or appearances.
People with schizotypal personality disorder may have odd beliefs or superstitions. These individuals are unable to form close relationships and tend to distort reality. In this respect, schizotypal personality disorder can seem like a mild form of schizophrenia -- a serious brain disorder that distorts the way a person thinks, acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. In rare cases, people with schizotypal personality disorder can eventually develop schizophrenia.
What Are the Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
People with schizotypal personality disorder display a combination of odd behavior, speech patterns, thoughts, and perceptions. Other people often describe these individuals as strange or eccentric. Additional traits of people with this disorder include the following:
Dressing, speaking, or acting in an odd or peculiar way
Being suspicious and paranoid
Being uncomfortable or anxious in social situations due to their distrust of others
Having few friends and being extremely uncomfortable with intimacy
Tending to misinterpret reality or to have distorted perceptions (for example, mistaking noises for voices)
Having odd beliefs or magical thinking (for example, being overly superstitious or thinking of themselves as psychic)
Being preoccupied with fantasy and daydreaming
Tending to be stiff and awkward when relating to others
Coming across as emotionally distant, aloof, or cold
What Causes Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Genetics may play a role in the development of schizotypal personality disorder. This disorder is more common in relatives of people with schizophrenia and typically develops in early adulthood.
How Is Schizotypal Personality Disorder Diagnosed?
If symptoms are present, a health care professional will begin an evaluation by performing a complete medical history and physical exam. Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose personality disorders, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests to rule out physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.
If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, health care professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate someone for a personality disorder.