The case of Roger, a schizoid research assistant. Roger was an undergraduate who had volunteered to help out in the laboratory of one of his psychology professors. He was responsible, showing up on time and doing the work he was given. However, he seemed detached from the work, never getting too excited or appearing to be even interested, though he volunteered to work for several semesters. Roger often worked in the lab at night. On several occasions, some of the graduate students complained to the professor that Roger was "staring" at them. When pressed for details, these students said that, when they left their office doors open, they would sometimes turn around and find Roger standing in the doorway, looking at them. Several female graduate students complained that he was "spooky" and kept their office doors locked.
Roger lived with his younger brother, who also went to the same university. The brother apparently handled all the daily chores, such as dealing with the landlord,
buying groceries, and arranging for utilities. Roger thus had a protected life and spent most of his time studying, reading, or exploring the Internet. In class, he never talked or participated in discussion. Outside of class, he appeared to have no friends, nor did he participate in any extracurricular activities. The professor he worked for thought he might be on medication but, after inquiring, learned that Roger took no medication. After graduating with a degree in psychology, Roger returned to live with his parents. He remodeled the space above his parents' garage and has been living there, rent-free, for the past 15 years. Every few years, he calls the psychology professor he used to work for. The conversations are always very short and never seem to have a point.
At best, the schizoid person appears indif ferent to others, neither bothered by criticism nor buoyed by compliments. "Bland" would be one description of such a person's emotional life. Often, the schizoid person does not respond to social cues and, so, appears inept or socially clumsy. For example, such a person may walk into a room where there is another person and simply stare at that person, apparently not motivated to start a conversation. Sometimes the schizoid person is passive in the face of unpleasant happenings and does not respond ef fectively to important events. Such a person may appear directionless.
People from some cultures react to stress in a way that looks like schizoid personality disorder. That is, without actually having the disorder , some people under stress may appear socially numb and passive. For example, people who move out of extremely rural environments into lar ge cities may react in a schizoid fashion for several weeks or months. Such a person, overwhelmed by noise, lights, and overcrowding, may prefer to be alone, have constricted emotions, and manifest other deficits in socia skills. Also, people who immigrate from other countries are sometimes seen as cold, reserved, or aloof. For example, people who immigrated from Southeastern Asia during the 1970s and 1980s were sometimes seen as being hostile or cold by people in mainstream urban American culture. These are cultural dif ferences and should not be interpreted as personality disorders.
Whereas the schizoid person is indif ferent to social interaction, the schizotypal person is acutely uncomfortable in social relationships. Schizotypes are anxious in social situations, especially if those situations involve strangers. Schizotypal persons also feel that they are different from others or that they do not fit in with the group. Inter estingly, when such persons have to interact with a group, they do not necessarily become less anxious as they become more familiar with the group. For example, while attending a group function, the schizotype will not become less anxious as time wears on but, instead, will become more and more tense. This is because schizo-types tend to be suspicious of others and are not prone to trust others or to relax in their presence.
Another characteristic of people with schizotypal personalities is that they are odd and eccentric. It is not unusual for them to harbor many superstitions such as believing in ESP and many other psychic or paranormal phenomena that are outside of the norms for their culture. They may believe in magic or that they possess some magical or extraordinary power, such as the ability to control other people or animals with their thoughts. They may have unusual perceptions that border on hallucinations, such as feeling that other people are looking at them or hearing murmurs that sound like their names.
Because of their suspiciousness of others, social discomfort, and general odd-ness, schizotypal persons have dif ficulty with social relationships. They often violate common social conventions in such ways as not making eye contact, dressing in unkempt clothing, and wearing clothing that does not go together . In many ways, the schizotype simply does not fit into the social group
Because of their similarity in terms of avoiding social relations, the characteristics of schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders are presented together in Table 19.6. Some beliefs and thoughts, mostly concerned with other people, which characterize persons with these disorders are also listed.
Mason, Claridge, and Jackson (1995) published a questionnaire for assessing schizotypal traits and validated it in several British samples. One of the scales contains items that get at the presence of unusual experiences: "Are your thoughts sometimes so strong you can almost hear them? Have you sometimes had the feeling of gaining or losing ener gy when certain people look at you or touch you? Are you so good at controlling others that it sometimes scares you?" Another scale contains items that assess cognitive disorganization: "Do you ever feel that your speech is dif ficult t understand because the words are all mixed up and don' t make any sense? Do you frequently have dif ficulty starting to do things? Another set of items measures the
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