Schizotypal Personality Disorder (STPD)

DSM Criteria for Schizotypal Personality Disorder (STPD)

Schizotypal Personality Disorder (STPD) is listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic & Statistical Manual (DSM) as a Cluster A (odd or eccentric) Personality Disorder.

A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for close relationships, as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

  1. Ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference).
  2. Odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with subcultural norms (e.g., superstitiousness, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, or "sixth sense"; in children and adolescents, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations).
  3. Unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions.
  4. Odd thinking and speech (e.g., vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, over elaborate, or stereotyped).
  5. Suspiciousness or paranoid ideation.
  6. Inappropriate or constricted affect.
  7. Behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric, or peculiar.
  8. Lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
  9. Social anxiety that tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self.

Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Schizoid Personality Disorder are closely related and share a number of common characteristics particularly evident in a lack of ability to form and maintain social relationships. The diagnoses differ in the attitude in that people who suffer Schizotypal Personality Disorder avoid relationships out of fear while people with Schizoid personality avoid relationships out of disinterest.

A formal diagnosis of STPD requires a mental health professional to identify 5 out of the above 9 criteria as positive. Some people with STPD may exhibit all 9. Most will exhibit only a few. 

Most people will experience or exhibit a few of the above criteria from time to time. This does not make a person STPD.

Understanding the clinical criteria for Schizotypal Personality Disorder (STPD) is helpful, but learning how to cope with having a loved-one who suffers from STPD is quite different.

One of the most effective ways we have found to deal with that is to get support from people who understand what it feels like to be in a relationship or be a family member of someone who suffers from a personality disorder and have learned how to cope. You can find people like that at our Support Forum.

STPD Characteristics

The following list is a collection of some possible behaviors and traits of those who suffer from Schizotypal Personality Disorder (STPD). Note that these are not intended to be used for diagnosis. See the DSM Criteria on this page for diagnostic criteria. Click on the links on each one for much more information about a particular trait or behavior and some ideas for coping with each.

  • "Always" and "Never" Statements - "Always" and "Never" Statements are declarations containing the words "always" or "never". They are commonly used but rarely true.

  • Anger - People who suffer from personality disorders often feel a sense of unresolved anger and a heightened or exaggerated perception that they have been wronged, invalidated, neglected or abused.

  • Avoidance - The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.

  • Catastrophizing - The habit of automatically assuming a "worst case scenario" and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.

  • Chaos Manufacture - Unnecessarily creating or maintaining an environment of risk, destruction, confusion or mess.

  • Chronic Broken Promises - Repeatedly making and then breaking commitments and promises is a common trait among people who suffer from personality disorders.

  • Circular Conversations - Arguments which go on almost endlessly, repeating the same patterns with no resolution.

  • Cognitive Dissonance - A psychological term for the discomfort that most people feel when they encounter information which contradicts their existing set of beliefs or values. People who suffer from personality disorders often experience cognitive dissonance when they are confronted with evidence that their actions have hurt others or have contradicted their stated morals.

  • Confirmation Bias - The tendency to pay more attention to things which reinforce your beliefs than to things which contradict them.

  • Denial - Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.

  • Dependency - An inappropriate and chronic reliance by an adult individual on another individual for their health, subsistence, decision making or personal and emotional well-being.

  • Depression - People who suffer from personality disorders are often also diagnosed with symptoms of depression.

  • Dissociation- A psychological term used to describe a mental departure from reality.

  • Engulfment - An unhealthy and overwhelming level of attention and dependency on another person, which comes from imagining or believing one exists only within the context of that relationship.

  • Sense of Entitlement - An unrealistic, unmerited or inappropriate expectation of favorable living conditions and favorable treatment at the hands of others.

  • Escape To Fantasy - Taking an imaginary excursion to a happier, more hopeful place.

  • False Accusations - Patterns of unwarranted or exaggerated criticism directed towards someone else.

  • Favoritism - Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a family or group of peers.

  • Fear of Abandonment - An irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.

  • Feelings of Emptiness - An acute, chronic sense that daily life has little worth or significance, leading to an impulsive appetite for strong physical sensations and dramatic relationship experiences.

  • Hoarding - Accumulating items to an extent that it becomes detrimental to quality of lifestyle, comfort, security or hygiene.

  • Holiday Triggers - Mood Swings in Personality-Disordered individuals are often triggered or amplified by emotional events such as family holidays, significant anniversaries and events which trigger emotional memories.

  • Relationship Hyper Vigilance - Maintaining an unhealthy level of interest in the behaviors, comments, thoughts and interests of others.

  • Hysteria - An inappropriate over-reaction to bad news or disappointments, which diverts attention away from the real problem and towards the person who is having the reaction.

  • Identity Disturbance - A psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view

  • Imposed Isolation - When abuse results in a person becoming isolated from their support network, including friends and family.

  • Impulsiveness - The tendency to act or speak based on current feelings rather than logical reasoning.

  • Invalidation - The creation or promotion of an environment which encourages an individual to believe that their thoughts, beliefs, values or physical presence are inferior, flawed, problematic or worthless.

  • Lack of Conscience - Individuals who suffer from Personality Disorders are often preoccupied with their own agendas, sometimes to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others. This is sometimes interpreted by others as a lack of moral conscience.

  • Lack of Object Constancy - An inability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy and reliable, especially when they are out of your immediate field of vision.

  • Low Self-Esteem - A common name for a negatively-distorted self-view which is inconsistent with reality.

  • Manipulation - The practice of steering an individual into a desired behavior for the purpose of achieving a hidden personal goal.

  • Magical Thinking - Looking for supernatural connections between external events and one’s own thoughts, words and actions.

  • Masking - Covering up one's own natural outward appearance, mannerisms and speech in dramatic and inconsistent ways depending on the situation.

  • Moments of Clarity - Spontaneous periods when a person with a Personality Disorder becomes more objective and tries to make amends.

  • Mood Swings - Unpredictable, rapid, dramatic emotional cycles which cannot be readily explained by changes in external circumstances.

  • Neglect - A passive form of abuse in which the physical or emotional needs of a dependent are disregarded or ignored by the person responsible for them.

  • "Not My Fault" Syndrome - The practice of avoiding personal responsibility for one's own words and actions.

  • Objectification - The practice of treating a person or a group of people like an object.

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior - An inflexible adherence to arbitrary rules and systems, or an illogical adherence to cleanliness and orderly structure.

  • Pathological Lying - Persistent deception by an individual to serve their own interests and needs with little or no regard to the needs and concerns of others. A pathological liar is a person who habitually lies to serve their own needs.

  • Perfectionism - The maladaptive practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard of organization, order, or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in other areas of living.

  • Projection - The act of attributing one's own feelings or traits to another person and imagining or believing that the other person has those same feelings or traits.

  • Proxy Recruitment - A way of controlling or abusing another person by manipulating other people into unwittingly backing “doing the dirty work”

  • Raging, Violence and Impulsive Aggression - Explosive verbal, physical or emotional elevations of a dispute. Rages threaten the security or safety of another individual and violate their personal boundaries.

  • Ranking and Comparing - Drawing unnecessary and inappropriate comparisons between individuals or groups.

  • Scapegoating - Singling out one child, employee or member of a group of peers for unmerited negative treatment or blame.

  • Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia - The use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.

  • Selective Competence - Demonstrating different levels of intelligence, memory, resourcefulness, strength or competence depending on the situation or environment.

  • Self-Harm - Any form of deliberate, premeditated injury, such as cutting, poisoning or overdosing, inflicted on oneself.

  • Shaming - The difference between blaming and shaming is that in blaming someone tells you that you did something bad, in shaming someone tells you that you are something bad.

  • Silent Treatment - A passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse in which displeasure, disapproval and contempt is exhibited through nonverbal gestures while maintaining verbal silence.

  • Situational Ethics - A philosophy which promotes the idea that, when dealing with a crisis,the end justifies the means and that a rigid interpretation of rules and laws can be set aside if a greater good or lesser evil is served by doing so.

  • Splitting - The practice of regarding people and situations as either completely "good" or completely "bad".

  • Stunted Emotional Growth - A difficulty, reluctance or inability to learn from mistakes, work on self-improvement or develop more effective coping strategies.

  • Tunnel Vision - The habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.

Movies Portraying Schizotypal Personality Disorder Traits

Taxi Driver - Taxi Driver is a 1976 movie starring Robert de Niro about a troubled Vietnam veteran with schizotypal traits who works as a cab driver in New York City.

The Apostle - The Apostle is a 1997 drama written, directed and starring Robert Duvall, about an evangelical itinerant preacher with schizotypal trailts who commits a violent crime then moves to Louisiana in an attempt to build a new life.

STPD Support Groups & Links:

Psychforums STPD forum - Psychforums Site.

Schizotypal Forum - Freeforums Site