Covert Schizoid Personality Disorder (A Complete Guide)

In this article, we will discuss Covert Schizoid Personality Disorder. We will do that by discussing schizoid personality disorder, its signs, its overt and covert types, possible causes, and treatment of this condition. 

Covert Schizoid Personality Disorder 

People with covert schizoid personality disorder exhibit the same symptoms as overt schizoid personality disorder but they are less apparent and observable to others. These people seemingly lead normal lives but struggle with emotional expressions and social relationships. Their self-concept is inauthentic and they feel empty. Some of them may even have hidden grandiosity.

Their interpersonal relationships are marked by oversensitivity and a hunger for love. They feel envious of people who are spontaneous and want to be involved in group activities. At their workplace, they are capable of working steadily but lack clear goals. Similarly, at the cognitive level, they alternate between being in contact with reality and losing it. Their morality also alternates from being altruistic to shifting to doing odd crimes. 

Personality Disorders

Personality refers to a certain pattern of behavior and thoughts which direct how an individual process and perceives information about themselves and the world. We have certain personality traits that are relatively stable and govern our behavior in different social contexts.

Many people exhibit behavior that is in accordance with the norms of society. However, some people show personality traits that are away from the norm. It is destructive to them as well as the people around them. Their functioning is markedly impaired which is why these people need professional help to lead a normal life. Such people have a personality disorder. 

Schizoid personality disorder

A schizoid personality disorder is one of the rare personality disorders in which the person has limited emotional experiences. This includes limited facial expressions as well as a preference to avoid social situations and interaction with others. Such people prefer to spend time alone in their minds. Their functioning is impaired as their limited communication and social interaction affect their daily, social, and occupational life.

Men have schizoid personality disorder more commonly than women. It starts to develop its symptoms in early adulthood. These people are socially detached and struggle with it expressing emotions. People perceive them to be detached and cold. They are afraid of intimacy and close relationships.

Similarly, their intimate life is also quite limited. Such people only have close relationships with their family members. Even those relationships are not too close. They are comfortable being in isolation and follow life in a systematic routine. They spend their time daydreaming and fantasizing and are completely uninterested in social interactions.

A schizoid personality disorder is part of the schizophrenia spectrum. It’s behavior particularly lack of social connections and emotional expressions are closely related to symptoms of schizophrenia. If people with schizoid personality disorder continue to deteriorate and lose touch with reality, they go on to develop schizophrenia particularly predominant symptoms of hallucinations or delusions.

Signs of schizoid personality disorder

Signs of schizoid personality disorder include the following:

  • these people avoid social activities
  • they do not express strong emotions
  • they have little or no interest in developing intimate relationships
  • they are emotionally cold and detached
  • usually, they are at a loss about how to respond to social cues
  • they prefer to spend time in solitary activities and jobs
  • they lack motivation and do not perform well at school or work
  • they value autonomy and have very few close friends 
  • they do not enjoy many activities
  • they are indifferent to criticism or praise
  • their mood usually remains the same and there is no observable change
  • they have difficulty experiencing pleasure

Covert and Overt Schizoid personality symptoms

Even among schizoid personalities, people might have covert or overt symptoms. This means that people with overt symptoms may show obvious signs of schizoid personality disorder. They are emotionless and their blank expressions are apparent to others. Similarly, they have little social contact and are uninterested in most things. They spend their time alone and not many people are in close relationship with them.

Compared to them, covert schizoid personality may not show apparent or observable symptoms. People see them as sociable with stable jobs and multiple relationships. However, these people do not have intimate or close emotional bonds. They keep their emotions to themselves and are private. They also experience emptiness.

Causes of schizoid personality disorder

Multiple factors may contribute to schizoid personality disorder. However, clear causes of it are unknown. Different theories have tried to explain how this disorder develops. Some theorists suggest that behavior depicted by people with a schizoid personality disorder is learned. Biological theorists have a different stance as they suggest that chromosomal or nervous system disorders may contribute to such symptoms. Psychodynamic theorists believe that there is a deficiency in normal ego development which directs such people to behave in this way.

Some researchers suggest that since this disorder is closely linked with schizophrenia, so it may share the same risk factors as the schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Factors that increase the chances of a person having schizoid personality disorder include having a family member with a schizoid personality disorder or schizophrenic disorder. 

Similarly if in childhood a parent was cold or unresponsive to the emotional needs of a person, such an individual may grow up to show symptoms of schizoid personality disorder. Apart from that, if a person is was sensitive in childhood and was treated with annoyance or if their feelings were constantly disregarded, these people may grow up to be emotionally detached. Additionally, early abuse or neglect may contribute to such symptoms. 

In short, genetic and early childhood environments can be the main sources of the development of symptoms of schizoid personality disorder.

Treatment of schizoid personality disorder

People with a schizoid personality disorder may experience a decrease in symptoms with time. However, this condition can also be long-term. Some people with a schizoid personality disorder may develop other disorders like depression, anxiety, drink and drug addiction. It can cause great distress to family members. 

Professional help can help in treating schizoid personality disorder. However, since such people prefer to be socially isolated, it can hinder their recovery. Lack of motivation may be another factor contributing to their unsuccessful treatment. This is because such people do not feel like there is anything wrong with them. They also have difficulty interacting with the mental health professionals who provide them with treatment. Nonetheless, such people can respond well to treatment and live healthy lives.

Recommended treatment for them includes psychotherapy with a professional therapist having expertise in treating this condition. Medication can be helpful in reducing symptoms of comorbid disorders like depression, anxiety, and addiction. In counseling, the goal of the treatment can be to solve immediate problems that are a source of stress. A treatment plan can be designed around current stressors and build up to engaging such individuals in increasing their social interaction and deepening their emotional experience.

It is important that the therapist establishes a trusting relationship with such people and respect their boundaries. Cognitive-behavioral therapy especially cognitive restructuring can help in addressing irrational thoughts that contribute to the behavior of these people. They can be taught coping skills and self-awareness exercises in reducing their reluctance in pursuing social relationships. Self-help strategies can also be taught to such individuals. 

FAQs: Covert Schizoid Personality Disorder

Can schizoid personality disorder turn into schizophrenia?

Yes. Some people with a schizoid personality disorder may develop schizophrenia with time.

Do schizoids feel lonely?

No. It is unlikely that schizoids feel alone since they actively prefer to be alone and away from people. Yet, some studies suggest that they do feel alone. 

Is schizoid personality disorder bad?

A schizoid personality disorder is not violent or dangerous to others but it can be harmful to the person suffering from it. 

Does schizoid worsen with age?

Yes. It is highly likely that schizoid personality disorder worsens with age if left untreated. However, some studies also suggest that the symptoms of schizoid personality decrease with time. 

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed Covert Schizoid Personality Disorder. We found that People with covert schizoid personality disorder exhibit the same symptoms as overt schizoid personality disorders but they are less apparent and observable to others. These people seemingly lead normal lives but struggle with emotional expressions and social relationships. Their self-concept is inauthentic and they feel empty. Some people may even have hidden grandiosity. 

Their interpersonal relationships are marked by oversensitivity and a hunger for love. They feel envious of people who are spontaneous and want to be involved in group activities. At their workplace, they are capable of working steadily but lack clear goals. Similarly, at the cognitive level, they alternate between being in contact with reality and losing it. Their morality also alternates from being altruistic to shifting to doing odd crimes. 

 I hope you found this article interesting. If you have any queries or comments, please state them in the comment section 😊

Citations

https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/schizoid.html#schizoidpersonalitydisordertreatment

https://psychology.wikia.org/wiki/Schizoid_personality_disorder

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.