Those afflicted with schizoid personality disorder generally distance themselves from social events, have few (if any) close friends, and prefer solitary activities. Many schizoids spend excessive time: browsing the internet, fantasizing, and may appear to be eternally biding their time. Most don’t typically derive pleasure from things like sex, social bonding, and partying. Although a variety of internet and/or gaming addicts believe they have schizoid personality disorder, formal diagnosis requires a person to take the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory).
Various factors including: emotional warmth, expressing emotions, solitary activities, number of close friends, and degree to which a person spends time with introspection – are all considered in the test. (Keep in mind there are more factors than the few just listed). Even though many people have been diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, it is important to avoid assuming they are all the same and completely robotic.
Assuming everyone with SPD is the same is like assuming everyone that is extroverted is the same. Although 2 extroverts will become energized when talking to people, one extrovert may have more close friends than the other and may have an interest in health and fitness, whereas the other may be completely out of shape and have an interest in drinking beer with friends on the weekend. To help better understand the differences of those specifically diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, Theodore Millon hypothesized 4 schizoid personality subtypes.
Millon’s 4 Schizoid Personality Subtypes
Theodore Million believed that there were only a few “pure” variations of a particular personality. Understand that some people may not really fit one of any of these 4 subtypes, yet still fit the criteria for schizoid personality disorder. In this case, Millon would argue that they likely are experiencing a specific blending of various subtypes to form their composite disorder.
The four varieties of schizoid personality disorder include: the affectless schizoid, the remote schizoid, the languid schizoid, and the depersonalized schizoid. Many people with the disorder are able to identify with a specific subtype as listed by Millon. Therefore if you have this disorder, you may want to understand Millon’s subtypes to better understand your demeanor.
1. Affectless Schizoid (with compulsive features)
A person considered an “affectless” schizoid is one that tends to be void of emotions, both internally and expressing them towards others. They are likely to lack passion, remain unresponsive in social situations, and are highly unlikely to show any affection to prospective significant others. It is unlikely that the affectless schizoid would be able to handle any sort of romantic relationship.
They may not care about others, appear to have no spirit, and probably won’t seem excited with much of anything. The affectless schizoid is emotionally-cold and nearly all emotions are dulled compared to someone without SPD. Despite lacking emotional warmth, they may be capable of holding down a job in a professional setting. The compulsive features of the “affectless” subtype generally mean that they prefer structured interactions rather than spontaneity.
2. Remote Schizoid (with avoidant/schizotypal features)
Those who are considered “remote” schizoids tend to be removed from society and distant from all social activities. Millon suggested that they isolate themselves from others to the point that they often end up homeless or living in a secluded environment. Think of a remote schizoid as someone who is living in a house up in the mountains, sequestered from nearly all forms of human contact.
Those that are aimlessly “drifting” from one location to another and/or are constantly attempting to isolate themselves from humanity would be considered “remote” schizoids. Those who are considered “remote” schizoids may experience a blending of both avoidant and schizotypal characteristics. Millon noted that the remote schizoid is “peripherally” occupied (e.g. outside of society).
Some have theorized that the “remote” subtype may be provoked by unfavorable childhood experiences in which the individual was socially rejected or treated negatively. This may have rewired their brain to prefer social withdrawal over connecting with other humans.
3. Languid Schizoid (with depressive features)
An individual with the “languid” schizoid subtype tends to appear depressed. They may have difficulty maintaining adequate levels of arousal and may feel constantly fatigued. Millon characterized those with this subtype as appearing lethargic, lackadaisical, and with deficient activation. In other words, you probably won’t see the languid schizoid out for a run or at the gym because it’s just too much effort.
Those with this subtype may appear weak to others and appear sluggish or sloth-like. The depressive features would indicate that they lack sufficient psychological horsepower to complete any physically-taxing feat and will likely struggle to stay focused in a job setting. Although the languid schizoid may appear depressed, they may not experience any emotions. They are most likely to experience a significant degree of anhedonia and have few personal interests.
4. Depersonalized Schizoid (with schizotypal features)
Those that best fit the “depersonalized” schizoid subtype tend to feel as if they are observing themselves from a distance. They feel like they are disengaged from themselves and may feel as if all of the color has been sapped from their persona. Think of depersonalization as being completely disjoined from both your emotions and your personality.
From an external perspective, a depersonalized schizoid may appear zombie-esque or like you’re looking at someone that’s stuck in a trance. They are completely disengaged from all common social affairs and life. From their perspective, those with the depersonalized subtype may feel as if they are observing their life from a third-person perspective, rather than being an active participant.
- Source: http://www.millon.net/taxonomy/summary.htm
Factors to consider with schizoid personality variations
It is important to realize that Millon’s subtypes may not fit everyone perfectly with SPD. There are some other factors to consider in addition to the four subtypes listed above including: the severity, whether it’s “overt” vs. “covert,” comorbid diagnoses, and other individual factors.
Two people may fit a particular subtype, but one person may be more severely affected than the other. Multiple languid schizoids may feel sluggish, but one may be able to wash the dishes, prepare food, and do housework, while the other may remain too lethargic to get out of bed. Therefore it is highly important to consider that even within specific subtypes, there remains a spectrum of severity.
2. Overt vs. Covert
Nowhere does Millon suggest that a person with schizoid personality disorder can have “overt” (easily observable) or “covert” (hidden) subtypes. Based on Millon’s 4 subtypes, it would seem as though all should be “overt” – or easy to observe. The problem is that some individuals are easily able to mask their schizoid symptoms in social situations. In fact, some appear to socialize so well, that you’d never guess they had a disordered personality unless you had a camera on them 24/7.
3. Comorbid diagnoses
Not everyone with schizoid personality disorder only has SPD. It is possible to suffer from comorbid conditions such as: anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, etc. For example, two people may fit the same subtype, but one may suffer from severe social anxiety, whereas the other may not have any anxiety in social situations. It is important to consider the fact that comorbid diagnoses can further influence behaviors of a person with SPD.
4. Individual factors
It is also important to consider individual factors such as: whether the person has learned how to cope with schizoid personality disorder, how well a person takes care of themselves (e.g. exercise, diet, etc.), personal interests, and other philosophies. Also consider the fact that some people with schizoid personality disorder may be taking supplements and/or drugs that may drastically improve their symptoms and ability to cope.
What do you think of Millon’s 4 subtypes?
Do you think that Millon accurately defined the 4 most common subtypes of schizoid personality disorder? Do you think the subtypes should be used to help those diagnosed with SPD to get a better understanding of their diagnosis? If you have schizoid personality disorder (or know someone that has been formally diagnosed), feel free to share what subtype you believe best suits you. Personally I have a tough time boxing myself into just one particular subtype as I exhibit various features of each.