Schizotypal personality disorder: symptoms, causes and treatment
Personality is understood as a pattern of behavior and relatively stable thinking throughout the life cycle through time and situations that provide us with guidelines of behavioral preference and that influence our way of understanding and acting in the world and ourselves.
However, on some occasions the personality that is forged throughout the development is not structured in an adaptive and functional way with respect to the environment in which it is lived, which is a difficulty to limit the action itself and reduce the possibilities of the subject in addition to producing frustration and suffering.
For example, it can hinder the possibility of establishing intimate relationships, adapting behavior to the context or presenting fanciful ways of thinking and acting that are far from reality. This is what happens in schizotypal personality disorder .
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The schizotypal personality disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is understood as the set of relatively consistent patterns of behavior and thought throughout the life of the subject and through situations in which the individual who suffers from it manifests a pattern of interpersonal deficiencies that make it difficult for the presence of close personal relationships while maintaining a considerable behavior as eccentric and in which diverse cognitive alterations are presented.
The schizotypal personality disorder is classified as a serious personality disorder , which would enter into cluster A. It supposes a severe difficulty for the sufferer, because it makes difficult the maintenance of social relations and can cause a feeling of helplessness and emptiness. It can also cost you to focus on specific objectives and present episodes of derealization and depersonalization. There is a limited and decontextualized affectivity, and sometimes anhedonia.
People with schizotypal personality they tend to hold beliefs and ideas that are considered fanciful or strange. They emphasize paranoid and self-referential beliefs, although they do not usually reach the level of delirium. It is also common for them to have magical and superstitious beliefs and thoughts. It is not uncommon for them to experience perceptual alterations, such as illusions and images. Their behavior may not suit the social context or situations that are being lived.
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Your social skills
The social capacities of people with schizotypal personality disorder are limited, manifesting extravagant behavior and a high level of social anxiety that remains despite frequent and familiar contact. This is produced largely by paranoid ideas that make them very suspicious of the behavior of others.
In addition, these people they appear cold and distant and tend to isolate themselves . However, although not in all cases, their isolation is due more to anxiety and distrust than to a lack of social interest.
His language also has particularities , since in spite of maintaining logic and coherence they tend to use striking terms and to have a tangential discourse that does not go directly to the question they want to raise. The use of metaphors and circumlocutions is frequent.
Causes of the disorder
As a personality disorder that is, schizotypal personality disorder is a pattern of thought and behavior that is largely learned and acquired throughout life, even though there is a genetic predisposition to manifest certain characteristics . However, it must be taken into account that depending on the context, this predisposition may not be expressed, so that the environment has a great importance in its appearance.
Studies conducted on biological elements that may explain this disorder seem to indicate that the schizotypal personality disorder it is more common in relatives of schizophrenic patients , which suggests that it is possible that genetic and / or educational aspects may cause this type of personality. The presence of elements similar to schizophrenia has also been manifested, such as the presence of difficulties in ocular movement tracking or the presence of low concentrations of platelet monoamine oxidase.
The ascending reticular system and the limbic system are parts of the brain that have been tried to link to the etiology of this disorder. There is also talk of the presence of hypersensitivity to humiliation or disapproval on the part of their peers and / or reference figures during development as elements that can trigger this disorder together with poor stimulation.
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The treatment of a personality disorder is especially complex, given that supposes to alter the way of seeing the world, thinking and acting of a person . Personality is a set of traits that tend to remain more or less stable throughout life, making it difficult to modify it.
However, there are methods that can serve this purpose. In regard to schizotypal personality disorder the type of treatment that is usually applied is cognitive-behavioral , although psychodynamic therapy has also been used successfully.
First of all, we must bear in mind that individuals with this type of characteristics tend to be very suspicious and prone to paranoid thinking , which is essential to establish a very good therapeutic relationship based on trust and respect in order to reduce suspicions and possible conflicts in order to work efficiently in the situation.
In regard to the presence of cognitive distortions, the treatment in question involves proposing to the patient the performance of behavioral experiments that prove or falsify their beliefs, so that they can evaluate their thoughts.
Aspects such as cited suspicion or magical thinking can be greatly reduced, the direct confrontation of beliefs not being effective. It also has to reflect on their way of thinking and acting and the damage they cause. Thus, it is common to use techniques such as cognitive restructuring .
Intervention on personal relationships
Another crucial aspect is social skills training in order to alleviate their interpersonal difficulties. The use of group therapy is recommended and techniques such as psychodrama and the modeling of social behaviors can be very useful to improve aspects such as the adaptation of behavior to the context and the development of communication.
In addition, it allows the existence of a feedback of the behavior of each subject by the rest of the participants. It is also useful to contribute to the improvement of its language and expressiveness, proposing the use of summaries in case there is circumstantiality.
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- Millon, T. (1999). Personality disorders: beyond the DSM IV. Masson: Barcelona.
- Olivencia, J.J. and Cangas, A.J. (2005). Psychological treatment of schizotypal personality disorder. A case study Psicothema, 17 (3). 412-417.
- Quiroga, E. & Errasti, J. (2001). Effective psychological treatments for personality disorders. Psicothema, Vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 393-406. University of Almería and University of Oviedo.
- Santos, J.L. ; García, L.I. ; Calderón, M.A. ; Sanz, L.J .; de los Ríos, P .; Left, S .; Román, P .; Hernangómez, L .; Navas, E .; Thief, A and Álvarez-Cienfuegos, L. (2012). Clinical psychology. CEDE Preparation Manual PIR, 02. CEDE. Madrid.