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