Caring for Someone with Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid personality disorder is a challenging mental illness that causes a person to struggle with the normal emotions and social connections most people experience and embrace. Living with and caring for someone who has this condition is difficult, but by learning more about it and helping your loved one recognize the need for professional care you can establish a better and more meaningful relationship.

Living with and being in a relationship with someone who struggles with any type of personality disorder can be challenging. These mental health conditions cause a person to have abnormal patterns of thoughts and behaviors that make functioning in daily life and relating to others difficult. If someone you care about has been diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder they may seem uncaring or unemotional. It can be hurtful to care for someone like this, but you can help by encouraging treatment and better understanding this person’s limitations when it comes to intimacy and emotional connections.

What Is Schizoid Personality Disorder?

Like any personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder is characterized by abnormal behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. Many people with these mental illnesses struggle to see that there is anything wrong with how they act or view the world, which makes it especially difficult to manage the condition and to relate well to other people.

Schizoid personality disorder causes two main types of symptoms: emotional detachment with minimal to no interest in relationships with other people and few or limited emotional responses when engaging with others. These symptoms can be expressed in a number of ways, including having few relationships, limited social activities or any kind of activities, isolation, lack of intimacy in existing relationships, indifference to what other people think or say about them, and emotional coldness.

Schizoid Personality Disorder Treatment

Knowing the symptoms of this mental illness it is easy to see why it is difficult to be in a relationship with or to care about someone with schizoid personality disorder. Even with close family members, there is little intimacy or closeness. As someone who cares for a family member or friend with this condition, one of the most productive things you can do is encourage him or her to get professional treatment.

Personality disorders are chronic illnesses and are difficult to treat, because those people living with these conditions have a very hard time realizing that there is something wrong with how they think and behave. If you can convince the person in your life to be evaluated and treated, the outcome will depend on their willingness to recognize their symptoms and to work to change them.

Schizoid personality disorder treatment is largely based on therapy, as there are no medications to treat the condition. Behavioral therapy can help someone make positive changes to how they interact with other people. While he or she may never be able to have the types of relationships other people do, it is possible to learn how to better interact, show emotion, and develop some degree of closeness. Group support and therapy can also be very useful for someone with schizoid personality disorder, as it can be a safe place to practice interpersonal skills.

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Adjust Expectations

Another important thing to do as someone who cares for an individual with this personality disorder is to learn more about it. And when you do you will realize that this person will always be limited in terms of intimacy and social relationships. That means you can adjust your own expectations to avoid being disappointed. You can’t get more out of this individual than he or she is able to give. Know that your relationship will never be as close as those you have with other people and that it will be unique, and you will be able get more satisfaction from this relationship.

Change the Focus of the Relationship

When you realize that the relationship with this person is not going to be what you hoped, you can change the focus and take away some pressure. People with schizoid personality disorder do better with interpersonal relationships that are not based on emotion, when they focus on work or other activities. When spending time with this person, engage in some kind of activity that is unemotional—an intellectual activity or a project. This will help you engage without pressuring your loved one to express emotions.

Living with schizoid personality disorder in someone you care about is always going to be difficult. The most positive things you can do include getting your loved one treatment, adjusting your expectations for closeness and emotional response, taking pressure away from him or her, and focusing on less emotionally demanding experiences and activities.