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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

What Is It?

Schizotypal personality disorder, like other personality disorders, is a long-standing pattern of behavior and experience. As part of that pattern, an individual either has difficulty functioning or experiences a great deal of distress.

People with schizotypal personality disorder are loners who prefer to keep their distance from others and are uncomfortable being in relationships. They sometimes exhibit odd speech or behavior, and they have a limited or flat range of emotions. This pattern begins early in adulthood and continues throughout life.

Those with this disorder also tend to have markedly illogical thinking, with unusual ideas or odd beliefs that are not consistent with prevailing ideas, for example, a strong belief in extra sensory perception (ESP). They may report unusual perceptions or strange body experiences.

Schizotypal personality disorder is in the middle of a spectrum of related disorders, with schizoid personality disorder on the milder end and schizophrenia on the more severe end. These disorders are probably biologically related. Many experts believe that people with these disorders have similar genetic vulnerabilities, but it is not clear why a person would develop a more or less severe form of the illness.

Many people with schizotypal personality disorder have subtle difficulties with memory, learning and attention. They usually do not have the more severe and disabling psychotic symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations that appear in schizophrenia. However, people with schizotypal personality disorder do sometimes develop schizophrenia.

Schizotypal personality disorder appears more often in men than in women. Symptoms of depression and anxiety are quite common. About half of people with this disorder have an episode of major depression at some point during life. Stress may cause the disorder to get worse.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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