Although not a formal diagnosis, depersonalized schizoid personality disorder may refer to the experience of depersonalization when you live with schizoid personality.
Depersonalization can feel like being detached from yourself. You may have a different sense of time, not recognize some aspects or all of yourself, or be numb to your physical and emotional sensations. In sum, you may feel like an outsider looking in on your experiences and body.
If you live with schizoid personality disorder, alone time may be your default setting. You may prefer solitary activities over engaging in social or romantic relationships. Perhaps others have even called you a “lone wolf” and indeed, you feel detached from others.
Depersonalization isn’t a formal symptom of schizoid personality disorder, although some people may experience it.
In his book, “Personality Disorders in Modern Life,” psychologist Theodore Millon identified four subtypes of schizoid personality disorder based on the then-current research on the topic:
- affectless schizoid: someone who shows a limited range of emotions
- languid schizoid: someone who experiences fatigue and appears apathetic
- remote schizoid: someone who prefers to isolate or withdraw from society
- depersonalized schizoid: someone who feels like an observer of their own life
Recent research on this personality disorder is limited and experts don’t know much more about the possible subtypes.
Schizotypy vs. schizoid
The term “schizotypy” refers to a specific group of personality traits that can be found along a spectrum (more to less intense). These traits lead to unusual behaviors and disorderly thought processes, which in turn may cause significant interpersonal challenges and difficulty navigating many aspects of life.
These schizotypy traits may increase someone’s chance to develop schizophrenia, although not everyone with these traits has or will have the condition.
Depersonalization may involve out-of-body experiences, loss of memory, anxiety, and a sense of being a spectator of your own life.
In general, it’s the sense of being detached from or being outside of yourself, as if you’re watching your own character in a movie from the vantage point of the audience.
Research on depersonalization and depersonalized schizoid personality is scarce. To date, experts can’t agree on their cause.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR) categorizes depersonalization/derealization disorder as a condition where you experience depersonalization, derealization, or both.
Derealization refers to feeling detached from your surroundings.
According to the DSM-5-TR, depersonalization isn’t common in schizoid personality disorder but may often co-occur with avoidant, borderline, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.
Transient depersonalization is often associated with trauma and intensely stressful situations.
Formal symptoms of schizoid personality disorder
In order to receive a diagnosis, a licensed mental health professional will confirm you experience at least four of seven symptoms as noted in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition, text revision (DSM-5-TR):
- a limited desire for close connections
- preference for doing activities alone
- lack of interest in sex
- little interest in activities or hobbies
- lack of close interpersonal connections
- indifference to other people’s opinions about you
- flat affect or limited expression of emotions
Depersonalization isn’t a formal symptom although some people with schizoid personality disorder may experience it.
Depersonalization may feel similar for people with schizoid personality disorder or with other conditions.
Some signs and examples of how depersonalization can be experienced include:
- a sensation of watching, as opposed to experiencing, events in your life
- feeling detached from external forces
- feeling detached from “you,” like your body, thoughts, and feelings
- appearing preoccupied to outsiders, yet feeling ‘empty’ on the inside
- losing your sense of time
- forgetting about events you’ve experienced
While there’s still no cure for schizoid personality disorder or depersonalization, there is support available. Treatment may help you manage your condition.
Schizoid personality symptoms
Treatment of schizoid personality disorder usually involves a combination of:
- individual psychotherapy
- group therapy
medication for related symptoms, like anxiety and depression
If you find it offputting to imagine forging a relationship with a therapist, or others in a group setting, that’s common and valid. But you can engage in that relationship as much or little as you like, keeping the goal of symptom management in mind.
Grounding exercises may help you manage depersonalization, specifically.
A 2021 case report found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was an effective method of treatment. Over the course of 8 weeks, researchers explored guided and non-guided breathing techniques, along with thought-acceptance.
If depersonalization is related to living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), some types of medication may help. A 2019 study found that paroxetine (Paxil) and naloxone (Narcan) may be effective treatment options for some people.
If you’re experiencing depersonalization, consider talking with your doctor about the pros and cons of taking medication.
While living with schizoid personality disorder, you may find it difficult to connect to others. Although not a formal diagnosis, depersonalized schizoid personality may leave you feeling disconnected from yourself, like your body, thoughts, feelings, and imagination.
If the experience feels difficult, confusing, or isolating, know that you’re not alone and there is hope. Researchers are still learning more about treatment, but you may find it helpful to engage in individual therapy, group therapy, and grounding activities.