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 provides us with patterns of behavioral preference and that influences our way of understanding and acting in the world and ourselves.

However, on some occasions the personality that is forged throughout development is not structured in an adaptive and functional way with respect to the environment in which one lives, which represents a difficulty by limiting one’s own performance and reducing the possibilities. of the subject in addition to producing frustration and suffering.

For example, it can make it difficult to establish intimate relationships, adapt behavior to the context, or present ways of thinking and acting that are fanciful and far from reality. This is what happens in schizotypal personality disorder..

Schizotypal personality disorder

Schizotypal personality disorder is understood as the set of relatively consistent behavior and thought patterns throughout the subject’s life and through the situations in which the individual who suffers from it manifests a pattern of interpersonal deficiencies that make it difficult for him or her to be present. of close personal relationships while maintaining considerable eccentric behavior and in which various cognitive alterations occur.

Schizotypal personality disorder It is classified as a severe personality disorder, which would fall within cluster A. It represents a severe difficulty for those who suffer from it, as it makes it difficult to maintain social relationships and can cause a feeling of helplessness and emptiness. You may also find it difficult to focus on specific goals and experience episodes of derealization and depersonalization. There is a limited and decontextualized affectivity, and sometimes anhedonia.

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People with schizotypal personality They tend to maintain beliefs and ideas considered fanciful. or strange. Paranoid and self-referential beliefs stand out, although they do not usually reach the level of delusion. It is also common for them to have magical and superstitious beliefs and thinking. It is not uncommon for them to experience perceptual alterations, such as illusions and images. Their behavior may not adapt to the social context or the situations they are experiencing.

Your social skills

The social abilities of people with schizotypal personality disorder are limited, manifesting Extravagant behaviors and a high level of social anxiety that remains despite frequent and familiar contact. This is largely caused by paranoid ideations that make them very suspicious of the behavior of others.

Furthermore, 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 mistrust than to a lack of social interest.

Their language also has particularities, since despite maintaining logic and coherence they tend to use striking terms and have a tangential discourse that does not go directly to the issue they want to raise. The use of metaphors and circumlocutions is frequent.

Causes of the disorder

As a personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder is a pattern of thought and behavior that is largely learned and acquired throughout life, although 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 the environment has a great importance in its appearance.

The studies carried out regarding biological elements that can explain this disorder seem to indicate that schizotypal personality disorder It is more common in relatives of schizophrenic patients, which suggests that it is possible that genetic and/or educational aspects can 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.

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The ascending reticular system and the limbic system are parts of the brain that have been attempted to be linked to the etiology of this disorder. There is also talk of the presence of hypersensitivity to humiliation or disapproval by their peers and/or reference figures during development as elements that can trigger this disorder along with poor stimulation.

Treatment

The treatment of a personality disorder is especially complex, given that It involves altering the way a person sees the world, thinks and acts.. 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. Regarding 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 keep in mind that individuals with this type of characteristics tend to be very suspicious and prone to paranoid thinkingtherefore it 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 be able to work on the situation efficiently.

Regarding the presence of cognitive distortions, the treatment in question involves proposing to the patient to carry out behavioral experiments that prove or falsify their beliefs, so that they can evaluate their thoughts.

Aspects such as the aforementioned suspicion or magical thinking can be greatly reduced, with direct confrontation of beliefs not being effective. They must also be made to reflect on their way of thinking and acting and the harm they cause. Thus, it is common to use techniques such as cognitive restructuring.

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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 social behavior modeling can be very useful to improve aspects such as the adaptation of behavior to the context and the development of communication.

In addition, this allows the existence of feedback on the behavior of each subject from the rest of the participants. It is also useful to contribute to the improvement of their language and expressiveness, proposing the use of summaries in case there is circumstantiality.

Bibliographic references:

  • Olivencia, JJ and Cangas, AJ (2005). Psychological treatment of schizotypal personality disorder. A case study. Psychothema, 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, LI ; Calderon, MA ; Sanz, LJ; de los Ríos, P.; Izquierdo, S.; Roman, P.; Hernangómez, L.; Navas, E.; Ladrón, A and Álvarez-Cienfuegos, L. (2012). Clinical psychology. CEDE PIR Preparation Manual, 02. CEDE. Madrid.