SCHIZOID PERSONALITY (Schizo- thymic Personality)


A personality pattern disturbance characterized by shyness, introversion, and a tendency to avoid social contact and close relationships.The schizoid individual usually appears aloof, detached, and somewhat eccentric. He is likely to prefer books or solitary hobbies to social activity and companionship. The more sensitive schizoids suffer from feelings of loneliness and inadequacy, but may find solace and satisfaction in poetry, philosophy, or nature. They are unable to express anger or endure competition, and frequently retreat into an inner world of fantasies and daydreams. Those who lack imagination and finer sensibilities tend to be conscientious, hard-working, and dull; in some cases they may be cold, moody, ill-tempered, and mistrustful. These individuals also tend to develop fantasies, but instead of being absorbed in idealistic or poetic visions, they are likely to daydream about retaliating against their enemies.Case histories show that schizoid individuals were timid and withdrawn in childhood, and became increasingly se- clusive, detached, and “shut-in” after puberty. If they find work and living arrangements that require only a minimum of contact with other people, they may reach a fairly stable adjustment. But if they are faced with threatening or overwhelming situations, they may retreat further from the world and develop schizophrenic reactions. See PERSONALITY PATTERN DISTURBANCE.Illustrative Case: Raymond A., a twenty-two-year-old unmarried man, was admitted for the first time to the psychiatric unit of a county hospital after having been arrested for disturbing the peace. Unemployed, he was living in the suburban middle-class home of his parents when he was arrested.Raymond was the only child of a couple whose marriage was generally marked by an undercurrent of dissatisfaction. His father was a retiring, passive, almost withdrawn person who took pride in the fact that he had no close friends and did not feel the need for any. This aloofness characterized his manner with his wife and son as much as it did his relations with outsiders. He was a man content to do his daily work as a bookkeeper for a large hardware business and then return home to the life of a recluse. He assiduously avoided the job of disciplining his son and seemed to assume that matters would take care of themselves if ignored long enough. This general attitude toward life was one which upset Raymond’s mother, an active, more gregarious person who would have liked to have a wider circle of friends and a husband who could be more of a companion. To meet some of these needs she had chosen to work throughout her marriage as a receptionist for a physician and to leave the rearing of Raymond to sundry relatives, baby sitters, and nursery schools.Raymond’s early years were uneventful, except that it was noted that he never displayed much emotion, even when it seemed evident to outsiders that he must be heartbroken. He made a good school adjustment, becoming an early favorite of teachers because of his quick mind. Socially, however, he chose to remain a lone wolf. An early interest in and talent for playing the trumpet earned him a place in the high school band, but he failed to capitalize on this activity to make friends with fellow band members or with young people who came to the various functions at which the band performed. Despite his apparent disinterest in other people, he went through a stage in early adolescence in which he was unusually meticulous about the way his hair was combed and would literally spend hours arranging and rearranging his hair. He never displayed any interest in the opposite sex and once confided in his mother that he feared that females might be sexually aggressive if he dated them.After being graduated from high school, Raymond decided to enroll at a small school of music in a large eastern city. He attended this school for only one term before becoming discouraged, feeling that he lacked the talent to succeed as a musician. Upon his return home he attempted to find work with which he would be happy but seemed to drift aimlessly from one job to another.Eventually he began seeing himself as a nonconformist and began identifying with the existentialist movement.About three months before his hospital admission Raymond gave up any attempt to find work and began saying that anyone who had to work to earn his own living was a failure in life. He became personally untidy and unkempt. The same clothes were worn for days on end, and most of his time was spent alone in his room, where he practiced his trumpet-playing and wrote long essays to express his philosophy of life. He refused to alter these habits and resented any attempt by his mother to clean his room or to persuade him to change his clothes and be neater. He spoke of wanting to remain by himself forever in his own room and began refusing his mother admittance.On Christmas Eve, Raymond was repeatedly invited to participate in the family celebration that was taking place in his house, but he refused. Finally, harried by his mother’s persistence, he slipped out his bedroom window and was later arrested by police on the complaint of neighbors that he was parading down the middle of the street playing his trumpet. Raymond’s mother convinced the police that he should be placed in a hospital where he might be observed for a psychiatric disorder.During the thirty days that he was hospitalized Raymond was as indecisive as ever about the course his life should take. He offered various unrealistic plans which would take him out of his home town, the state, and even the country. Although he felt he should spend much of his time writing, he eschewed the idea of attempting to sell what he wrote and seemed to have no idea how he could support himself—nor was he greatly concerned. After a thirty-day iperiod of observation he was released from the hospital on the grounds that he did not display a severe enough disorder to warrant his remaining. (Zax and Strieker,1963)

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "SCHIZOID PERSONALITY (Schizo- thymic Personality)," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed September 26, 2022).


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