Schizoid Personality Disorder: 12 Traits Of People With Schizoid Personality


Traits Of People With Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is one of those heartbreaking disorders which not a lot of people know about, sometimes even those who suffer from this. They experience this silently, and constantly wonder why they feel what they feel, and what is it that’s wrong with them.

Written by Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D., CGP.
I think of schizoid personality disorder as a hidden disorder because most people with it are suffering very quietly.

Unless they confide in you that they have this particular set of issues, you are unlikely to notice that anything is amiss. If you notice them at all, you are likely to assume that they are hardworking introverts who are not very interested in getting to know other people. However, their problems are much more serious.  

In fact, so few people know about schizoid personality disorder that when I mention it, most people think I am referring to a much more serious disorder, such as schizotypal disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder. Schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder are both serious psychoses, and people with schizotypal disorder are typically more visibly odd and disturbed than people with schizoid personality disorder.

The confusion comes from the prefix schizo, which is a Latinized version of a Greek word meaning “split.” So, to be clear, a schizoid personality disorder is an entirely separate diagnosis from the others.

Related: Difference Between Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

[Note: In this post, I will sometimes use SPD or schizoid as a shorthand way of saying that a particular person qualifies for a diagnosis of schizoid personality disorder. I may also use the term adaptation instead of disorder in order to emphasize that this pattern, like other personality disorders, may have begun as a small child’s creative adaptation to his or her family situation.]

What type of problems do people with schizoid personality have?

Traits Of People With Schizoid Personality Disorder info

1. Lack of basic trust. 

Early traumatic childhood experiences with uncaring, neglectful, intrusive, or abusive parents left my schizoid clients with the belief that relying on other people is inherently unsafe. Most report that by age 7, they had realized that the adults around them could not be trusted to take care of them (Klein, 1995). Often, they had an abusive narcissistic or borderline parent who made their childhood a living hell.  

2. Excessively self-sufficient.

The schizoid solution to their lack of trust in other people is to try to become as independent and self-reliant as possible. Instead of looking to other people for help or validation, as my borderline and narcissistic clients do, they try to be entirely self-sufficient. They also tend to be very private and rarely share the details of their personal life with many people.

They exemplify the saying, “She keeps herself to herself.” Most of my schizoid clients are good with money and are careful savers. They say that being financially independent gives them a greater sense of security. 

3. Dissociation. 

When they were abused as children, my schizoid clients were unable to fight back or physically leave. However, they discovered how to dissociate from their body when they were frightened and go somewhere safe in their mind. Unfortunately, by the time they reach adulthood, the habit of dissociating when they feel stressed is so ingrained that they do it automatically—even when they would rather not.

And they cannot easily get out of that dissociated state. They describe the state as a sense of detachment from their body and their life as if they were walking through a black-and-white movie about someone else. Nothing feels emotionally meaningful or real, but they can continue to function in a robotic way as long as necessary. 

Related: Structural Dissociation: How Complex Trauma Causes A Split In Our Being

4. Social fears. 

Most forms of interpersonal intimacy are experienced as potentially dangerous. This is especially true when the other person has a loud voice or domineering manner or seems unpredictable. 

That supernatural fatigue you’re carrying around

5. Avoidant behaviors. 

The basic response that most people with SPD have to their social fears is to physically and emotionally distance themselves as much as possible from other people. At a party, they tend to quietly stand at the edges of the group with a drink in their hand, or they stay close to the nearest exits.

6. Relationship escape hatches. 

They also tend to build escape hatches into their intimate relationships. By “escape hatch” I mean an easy way for them to justify periodically leaving the relationship, such as accepting a job that involves frequent travel or starting an affair with a married person who cannot be with them all the time.

The idea of having to be in a relationship with no barriers makes them very anxious. My clients report feeling trapped and claustrophobic when they are expected to be in a close, ongoing relationship—even with someone they claim to love.  

7. In and out relationships. 

One of the typically schizoid relationship patterns involves going in and out of the same romantic relationship repeatedly (Klein, 1995). Initially, they feel very much in love and try to get the other person to reciprocate their feelings. However, as soon as the other person returns their feelings and there are no longer any real barriers to intimacy, they become scared.

They unconsciously shut down their feelings to protect themselves and find an excuse to back out of the relationship. However, as the time and distance between them and their ex increases, their fear diminishes. They start to feel love and attraction again. This leads them to approach their ex again and try to restart the relationship. Unless they get therapeutic help with their intimacy fears, they will keep replaying this pattern as long as the other person keeps taking them back.

Related: A Guide To Understanding The Fear Of Abandonment And Object Constancy

8. Behavior may appear narcissistic.

Sometimes, people in a romantic relationship with a schizoid person may mistake the above behaviors for narcissistic behavior because they appear superficially similar and feel so hurtful. However, the schizoid’s motive is quite different from the narcissist’s.

Narcissists leave because they have become bored or angry, no longer idealize their partner, and want the validation of someone new. People with schizoid personality disorder leave because they feel trapped and afraid of being controlled (Greenberg, 2016). 

9. Elaborate fantasy life. 

People who have made schizoid adaptations tend to substitute elaborate fantasy relationships for real relationships. My schizoid clients explain that unlike in real life, in their fantasies they have total control over what happens. That makes fantasy relationships safer.

Some people with SPD create such compelling and elaborate fantasy worlds that they go on to become famous writers.  

Related: Peter Pan Syndrome: What It Looks Like and How To Deal

10. Existential fears. 

My schizoid clients are the only ones who sometimes become preoccupied with the idea of death and the inherent meaninglessness of life. They may also express the fear that their distancing defenses will lead them to become totally isolated from other human beings, in a void without connection to anybody, and that they will not be able to reconnect.

11. Hides emotional reactions. 

This is in sharp contrast to people with borderline or narcissistic personality disorder who may loudly and publicly attack other people when they feel triggered. Most people with schizoid personality disorder quietly try to handle everything themselves. The last thing that they want is to involve anyone else in their problems. 

If my eyes could show my soul

12. Lacks whole object relations and object constancy. 

In addition to the above adaptations that are specifically characteristic of SPD, people with SPD also lack whole object relations (WOR) and object constancy (OC), as do people with personality disorders of any kind.  

In brief, whole object relations is the capacity to see yourself and other people in a relatively, realistic, stable, and integrated way that simultaneously contains both liked and disliked qualities. Object constancy is the ability to maintain whole object relations when you are angry, hurt, disappointed, or physically distant from the other person. Without WOR and OC, people are either seen as all-good or all-bad. The schizoid version is “safe or unsafe.”

Related: Understanding The Fear Of Abandonment And Object Constancy


Schizoid personality disorder is believed to begin in early childhood as an adaptation to a major lack of attunement by the child’s caregivers. Instead of feeling safe, understood, and loved, the child experiences some combination of abuse, neglect, and intrusiveness. This leads the child to believe that other people cannot be trusted. As a result, in adulthood people with schizoid personality disorder work very hard to be as independent of other people as possible.

Most people with schizoid adaptations end up living alone because they feel safer when they are by themselves. People with schizoid disorders mostly look like everyone else.

They usually hold jobs, function well at work, and are not obviously disordered in any way—unless you know what to look for. They internalize their suffering and hide it from the rest of the world. When I asked one of my schizoid clients what she would like me to tell people about schizoid personality disorder, she said, “Tell them that they will never guess what we are really feeling from looking at us.”


Klein, R. (1995). The self in exile: A developmental, self, and object relations approach to the schizoid disorder of the self. In J. F Masterson & R. Klein (eds.), Disorders of the Self: New Therapeutic Horizons--The Masterson Approach. NY: Brunner/Mazel, p. 3-142.

Greenberg, E. (2016). Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Disorders: The Pursuit of Love, Admiration, and Safety. NY: Greenbrooke Press, Chapters 3 and 13.

Written by Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D., CGP.
Originally appeared on Psychology Today 
Republished here with permission
Schizoid Personality Disorder pin
Traits Of People With Schizoid Personality Disorder pin

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Up Next

Breaking The Chains: How To Break A Trauma Bond with A Narcissist And Reclaim Your Sanity!

How To Break A Trauma Bond With A Narcissist? 47 Useful Tips

If you’re trapped in an abusive cycle and wondering how to break a trauma bond with a narcissist, you have come to the right place! 

Are you in a trauma bond with a narcissist? Breaking the trauma bond with a narcissist can be an incredibly challenging and complex process.

A trauma bond is a powerful emotional connection that forms between an individual and their abuser, often resulting from prolonged exposure to manipulation, control, and abuse.

Narcissists, with their self-centered and exploitative tendencies, can be especially adept at creating and perpetuating trauma bonds.

However, with knowledge, self-awareness, and strategic steps, it is possible to break free and embark on a journey toward healing and reclaiming your life.

Up Next

The Complex Mind Of An Empathic Narcissist: Understanding The Paradoxical Personality

The Empathic Narcissist: How To Identify And Deal With Them

Can narcissists feel empathy? Are there any narcissists with empathy? Does an empathic narcissist exist? Yes, some narcissists can have empathy as narcissism is more complicated than just mere black and white.

Can narcissists be empathic?

While most of us tend to believe that narcissists lack empathy, and rightly so, many narcissists can be empathetic and sense the thoughts and feelings of others. But aren’t narcissists supposed to be bad people? Well, that depends on how we define a “narcissist”.

In this era, narcissists have been given a bad reputation and seen as the villain of the story, but we need to realize that narcissism lies on a spectrum and most of us have some narcissistic

Up Next

Surviving The Toxic Workplace: How To Deal With A Narcissistic Coworker

How To Deal With A Narcissistic Coworker In 9 Effective Ways

Do you feel stressed and drained due to toxic coworkers? Dealing with a narcissistic coworker can surely be challenging, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to tolerate their toxicity. Here’s how to deal with a narcissistic coworker.

What is a narcissist coworker like?

We have all experienced our fair share of toxic coworkers at the workplace. They lie, they steal, they manipulate, they control, they gaslight, they abuse and after all that when their plans fail, they play the victim. 

Narcissistic coworkers consistently exhibit negative behavior in the workplace, causing harm or disruption to others around them. This person may –

Up Next

How To Deal With A Narcissistic Boss: 14 Strategies That Always Work

How To Deal With A Narcissistic Boss: 14 Strategies

Do you have a horrible boss? Do they make the work environment toxic and take credit for your efforts? Is working with a narcissistic boss making you stressed, anxious and depressed? Then here’s how to deal with a narcissistic boss.

Who is a narcissistic boss?

A narcissistic boss is someone who has traits of narcissistic personality disorder and displays toxicity in their behavior and interactions with others. They likely have an inflated sense of self-importance, a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. 

Narcissistic bosses tend to be highly self-centered,

Up Next

How Do You Stop Being A Narcissist? 30 Ways To Overcome Narcissistic Tendencies

How Do You Stop Being A Narcissist Effective Strategies

Do you think you have narcissistic traits? Are you tired of these tendencies that make you manipulate and control others? Do you keep asking yourself “How do you stop being a narcissist?” Well, we have the answer. 

It’s not typical for a narcissistic person to realize or become aware of the fact that they have a narcissistic personality. However, since you are questioning your tendencies and asking how to stop being a narcissist, it is possible that you may have some narcissistic traits and not necessarily a true narcissistic.

However, the fact that you are looking for ways to change your behavior is an excellently positive first step towards recovery. Here we are going to discuss some crucial steps on changing your narcissistic behavior and help you find the answer to y

Up Next

The Psychology Of Narcissistic Injury: How It Wounds A Narcissist’s Ego

Narcissistic Injury Recognizing and Managing the Impact

We all know that narcissists just love to abuse and hurt others. But what happens when a narcissist feels hurt or abused? What happens when their self-esteem and ego gets wounded? Narcissistic injury refers to the emotional trauma a narcissist experiences when they are devalued, rejected and criticized. 

And this can seriously scar the narcissist’s pride, self-worth and self-esteem. In fact, the damage can sometimes be so severe that the narcissist can never actually recover from it, leading to what is known as narcissistic scar.

Note: As narcissism lies on a spectrum, by using the term “narcissist” we mean to refer to individuals with narcissistic personality traits. However, the severity of

Up Next

What Is Obsessive Love Disorder: Signs, Causes, And How To Cope

Obsessive Love Disorder

Everyone wants to love and be loved because love makes the world go round, doesn’t it? But what happens when a pure and beautiful feeling like love gets twisted and is used to fixate on a person and try to control them? Obsessive Love Disorder happens. In a situation like this, love quickly starts to feel like a noose around the neck, and it only seems to get tighter and tighter the more one tries to escape it.

Let me make one thing clear from the get-go: obsessive love is not love. Love never seeks to control or harm; true love is supposed to make you feel safe, secure, and at peace. Obsessive Love Disorder will never let anyone live in peace and will make them feel like they have to sleep with one eye open.

Let’s delve deep into what Obsessive Love Disorder really is.

AI Chatbot Avatar
⚠️ Liza is in training with WMHA and may not always provide the most accurate information.