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Symptoms of Schizotypal Personality Disoders

Rashmi Nemade, Ph.D. & Mark Dombeck, Ph.D., edited by Kathryn Patricelli, MA

spiralPeople with Schizotypal personality disorder are usually described as odd, eccentric or "a little off" by people who know them. They commonly show evidence of mildly distorted thinking, perceptions, and behaviors. This may include the belief in UFOs, telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, ghosts, past lives, etc. They may dress in eccentric ways. They are often drawn to cults, mystical gurus, and/or the supernatural. This is likely because these groups will agree with and confirm their odd experiences and perceptions. Though sharing some aspects of positive symptoms of schizophrenia, they generally do not have psychotic breaks, and can function in society.

To be diagnosed with this disorder, a person must display five or more of the following symptoms:

  • ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference). This means that they have the belief that certain public communications contain specific hidden messages meant for them alone. They may believe that a television host's gesture has personal meaning for them, for example, or that song lyrics contain a special personal message. However, when pressed, the person accepts that these ideas are possibly not true.
  • odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is not consistent with normal society beliefs. Examples include being superstitious or having a belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, or a "sixth sense." In children and adolescents, this may be displayed as having bizarre fantasies or preoccupations.
  • Unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions
  • odd thinking and speech. This may include vague, metaphorical, very elaborate, or stereotyped speech
  • suspiciousness or paranoid thoughts
  • inappropriate or reduced expression of emotions
  • behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric or unique
  • lack of close friends other than first-degree relatives (parents and siblings)
  • excessive social anxiety that does not get reduced after knowing someone. This anxiety is more about the person having paranoid fears and not about how they see themselves as is common with social anxiety symptoms.

These symptoms must not happen only as part of Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder with psychotic features, another psychotic disorder, or autism spectrum disorder.