Introversion and Schizoid Traits

Leads To: Introverts, Asberger’s, Autism

Not so long ago, I was dropped a link by a reader to wikipedia’s entry on schizoid personality disorder.  I was shocked as I read it over.

I read through the descriptions and lists on this page and found that to some degree  I could be seen as exhibiting every single characteristic.

Like narcissism, this schizoid assessment can be kind of tricky.  Obviously, everyone is narcissistic to some degree.  It’s the inevitable result of living as ourselves and no one else.  Where then does normality end and disorder begin?

The same problem with a schizoid personality disorder.  A schizoid personality type shares many traits with introversion(or introversion is considered part of being schizoid) and is considered to usually be within the spectrum of normally functional individuals.  Disorder is diagnosed at the extreme ends of this schizoid spectrum.

Since there’s so much misunderstanding of introverts, I have to wonder if defining schizoids can end up pathologizing introverted traits that are merely incongruent with the mass society.

Here is one of the lists of ‘symptoms’ from the article with my comments on each:

-Emotional coldness, detachment or reduced affection.

(Defensive behaviors against a hostile society force one to emotionally detach in order to cope and survive.  It’s hard to be bright and cheerful while being defensive.)

-Limited capacity to express either positive or negative emotions towards others.

(Defensive habits make it difficult to really open up to others.  Without regular uninhibited social interaction one really gets out of practice.  If one grew up under such circumstances, it’s possible one never learned certain basic social conventions during critical formative stages.)

-Consistent preference for solitary activities.

(If others don’t share your interests, what else are you going to do?  Worse, they’ll probably criticize and ridicule if they find out.  Solitary becomes necessary!)

-Very few, if any, close friends or relationships, and a lack of desire for such.

(So little in common with others that it can be hard to find anyone who’s compatible.)

-Indifference to either praise or criticism.

(Does so many things outside of regular society that one stops caring whether others approve or disapprove.  One has to stop caring to stay sane!)

Taking pleasure in few, if any, activities.

(If one is forced to pursue one’s favorite activities solitarily and secretly then it seems as though one takes pleasure in nothing by the light of day.  Could perhaps be rewritten as: Taking pleasure in few if any socially approved activities.)

-Indifference to social norms and conventions.

(Social norms cause pain and inconvenience.  They stand against one’s personality and preferences.  If permitted to rule over one’s life, the result could only be a denial of one’s deepest self.  They are ignored when possible.)

-Preoccupation with fantasy and introspection.

(It’s a great way of compartmentalizing life and getting through all the rough parts without an excess of pain.  It’s another defense.  Who doesn’t daydream in unpleasant and boring situations?  Furthermore, the inner life is where the outer life is interpreted.  It is in the inner realm where patterns are seen and truth is discovered.  If dreams are a way for our minds to interpret, store, and clean up a day worth of overwhelming inputs, a fantasy life while awake can serve much the same function.)

-Lack of desire for sexual experiences with another person.

(Sexual experiences require lots of social skill and status.  Most importantly, it requires revealing oneself to someone who probably adheres to the conventional society.  Only criticism and censure could ensue.)

While a true excess of any of these traits could be construed as a disorder, I see many ways that a fairly normal introverted person could receive a disorder diagnosis.  Rather than truly being emotionally cold or lacking desire to be with other human beings, such an individual could be easily misunderstood, their actions misinterpreted.  I can’t help but notice that solitary activities are a criteria for disorder without any concern for

why the activities are being pursued solitarily or

why there are few friends or sexual relationships.

why there is an unusual reliance on defense mechanisms, emotional detachment, or fantasy just to get through a day

Upon examination it starts seeming less like a mental problem and more like a way of singling out social misfits.

In fact, the social history of an introvert can often be characterized as a long history of misdiagnosis and being singled out.  Many people I’ve encountered in life have assumed the worst about me at every turn.  So much so that I expect it out of people and have to go out of my way to be extra polite and carefully avoid conflict.  I find the schizoid definitions to be an organized list of ways extroverts have misunderstood and then reacted.

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27 responses to “Introversion and Schizoid Traits

  1. You sound just like me. I’m 42 and have been an introvert all my life; it’s just the way my mind has always worked. I came across the description of SPD a few years ago and was shocked at how much of it described me. I hate the term “schizoid” though (there was a actually a horror movie in the 60s with that title lol).

    • The name is almost indistinguishable from ‘schizophrenic.’ How about going up to someone and saying “Hi, I’m a schizoid. I hear voices.”?

      Doesn’t help that ‘schizo’ is a synonym for ‘crazy.’

    • I’m 48 and have been an introvert all my life. It didn’t have to be that way, I suppose. During formative years, when kids are supposed to be socializing with their own gender, the boys in my neighborhood, who were a little bit older, were already neurotic, owing to their interest in girls and the girls seeming lack of interest in them. For whatever reason, these same girls had an interest in me. And so I came under the constant attack of the other boys in my neighborhood. Even today, if a woman is showing interest in me, even if I am out for a walk with a woman, or on a casual date, or in light converation, and this happens to be occuring in public, there is always one in the bunch, some stranger who will make a hostile remark in passing, either subtly or quite aggressively. Funny thing is, these people actually seem to be more threatening than they are once they’ve unleased their verbal assault. On those occasions when I give them a taste of their own medicine, they usually appear to psychologically and physically shrink back in on themselves.

  2. I’ve read your stuff for a while. You have an excellent grasp of the “introvert life experience”…and I do identify with much that you have written.

    And you write damn well…

    There is an undercurrent of hostility, or at least resentment, that I sense, though. One thing that I’ve noticed about a lot of great thinkers is that they have some nagging pain (for lack of a better description) in their life.

    I’m wondering if you “drank the KoolAid of modern culture”, even just a little bit, would it add to your fulfillment in life?

    This stuff is good, but, in the end, will you consider yourself as have living a fulfilled life?

    Jim

    • I chose to write a blog under a silly pseudonym for a reason. Someone speaking in public known to all must function as an orator. They must be gracious and magnanimous. Their reputation is on the line. They have to deliver that high school graduation speech full of optimism and glory that no one really believes in but which no one can publicly doubt. An orator must take the form of its audience’s expectations.

      In my writings you will see resentment in undertones or sometimes, in overtones. I’m putting these writings on a blog so I don’t have to hedge or compromise, so I can communicate in truer form; even if some of the truer things about me might be less than agreeable.
      The orator at that high school graduation goes up on the podium and tells everyone that a bright and promising future awaits them, that everything will be all right. The speaker is lying for the sake of ceremony.
      I won’t lie about this: the sort of experiences discussed on this site. They leave their mark on a person for good. It changes how one identifies, how one thinks. Even years later, the sense of unbelonging is still strong, that baggage from emotional confusion and resentment is still there.(where does one put it?) The ability to function normally in society is just a perfected and protracted defense measure. I think my sometimes prickly attitude explains this. I think it tells people that it wasn’t just a phase, that the isolation was a key formative experience, that a fair dose of anger and resentment are a pretty natural and normal response to the situation. To pretend that everything’s perfect now would be precisely the wrong approach. I’m not writing these articles as a guru who ‘overcame it all’ but as a person who’s come to accept himself as he is.

      I didn’t have anyone to talk to about these issues. I hadn’t a means to articulate my thoughts or even figure out what the issues were. This was because issues that were most relevant to my life hadn’t even names. These issues hadn’t names because I was the only person who seemed to have them. In fact, I was questioning my sanity often enough. Surely it was more likely that they were all Correct and I was somehow horribly wrong and maladjusted for being me. I had no resources and no source of counsel or consolation on these matters.
      I want to provide a resource to others that I was never so fortunate to have. I want to make sense of who we are and why we are. You are correct to suppose that I feel ‘nagged’ and driven to this end.

      “Kool aid of modern culture.”(Manson’s koolaid?) I can’t say I’ve ever used that expression before. I of course participate in ‘modern culture.’ I am exposed to many of the same trends, fads, one hit wonders, and popular shows that everyone else sees. I’ve heard all the latest hits countless times. Not because I went out of my way to listen to them, but because other people around me were. I ingest the ‘modern culture’ by default. I am perplexed when people suggest to me I’ve been living under a rock and need to actually go out and search for it.

      This blog makes me feel more fulfilled. I started it wondering if anyone out there was thinking any of the same things. I figured it would be arrogant to think myself unique. When I started, I knew I would be happy if I could connect with, or help out even one person. I’m doing way better than I thought I would. I brought up the question of a truly fulfilled life in my ‘extrovert success’ article. I can’t say whether I will die fulfilled, but I do have strong criticisms of the mass culture that claims to know all the answers to that question of fulfillment.

      • Thanks for articulating, then. Your writings do validate my view of things for the most part….

        I used “KoolAid” in the sense of “obssessive, especially faddish veneration of” something.

        In other words, I was suggesting that it might require less life energy and lead to a bit more fulfillment if one drank a bit of the KoolAid instead of devoting all one’s energies to battling the tyranny….not that the tyranny should not be resisted, but resisted efficiently in the context of living one’s life.

      • I attempted this several times through the years and both time I all left with feelings of hostility, loss of identity, and resentment.

        Plugging into society is no part time job. It requires constant effort, movement, and almost no time for reflection. You cannot voice any criticisms or challenge anyone without experiencing a fair amount of censure. Mainstream folks are so wrapped into the latest fashions and social approval, you just have to wonder if they really even like themselves.

        Furthermore, plugging in completely is EXPENSIVE. You have to update the wardrobe, the car, the house, the wedding party, etc, etc, etc. This forces you to work the higher paying jobs that are higher paying for a reason: they are simply unfulfilling, meaningless tasks.

        We are the lucky ones. We have unparalleled levels of freedom that our extroverted slave brethren can only achieve in their dreams.

        Reverting back to a more introverted existence has always made me feel at home and healthy. All I need is a few good friends who are not “needy” and who I can discuss interesting concepts with, a collection of great books, and one or two introverted females to enjoy sexual companionship with once or twice a week. These activities do not require substantial social expenditures.

      • I myself have yet to plug into the ‘grown up’ life.(otherwise I probably wouldn’t have time to think about a blog let alone write in it.) In part I fear that ‘growing up’ means an end to growth, to inquiry, to reflection, to freedom.

        I do feel lucky, actually, for the supreme luxury: to have that time to stop and think.

        In the times I’ve lived ‘respectably’, I’ve learned what it’s like to be harried and drained for the sake of pointless tasks and causes. I stopped being able to think as much and after a certain amount of chronic continually escalating stress just started to feel internally numb and vacant. Though these times seemed like an eternity while I was within them, they seem unreal, not fully substantial in my memory. It’s as though I lived but just wasn’t as alive as usual.

  3. Great post, especially your very honest comment reply to jim.

    an introvert’s perspective on extroverts:

    “empty vessels make the most noise”

  4. …and i like the cryptic nature of the blog as well, it personifies the introvert very well in its understated-ness(word?) and absence of “charisma” being injected into it.

    • I consider negative charisma to be an important virtue.

      Someone who is charismatic has the most immediate emotional appeal, is the most pleasing, appears to be the best and greatest.
      What are they hiding? If there’s skeletons in the closet, their grand reputation is ruined.

      Someone with negative charisma makes a point of baring eccentricities and doesn’t strive to competitively inspirational or rhetorical in their approach. Their goal is reaching out to people rather than persuading them. They will never move the crowd like a charismat can, but they are more focused on finding the best individuals. If they have skeletons in the closet, it doesn’t particularly matter because they never put themselves on a pedestal.

      Since you brought this whole idea up, I’ll put on the list of future article topics.

  5. Mastermind, I’d bet money that you’re an INTJ.

    Most people create problems for themselves by seeking out quantity vs quality. They’re not mutually exclusive but they tend to have different characteristics.

    Real friends (who will help you bury the body) are a source of joy and happiness. One is greatly preferable to a hundred acquaintances. A collection great books trumps any rote credential. An intimate relationship goes deeper than dozens of one night stands.

    Of course, it’s possible and likely that I think this way due to my wiring. We are who we are.

  6. @Mastermind.

    “All I need is a few good friends who are not “needy” and who I can discuss interesting concepts with, a collection of great books, and one or two introverted females to enjoy sexual companionship with once or twice a week. These activities do not require substantial social expenditures.”

    This sounds like a very rewarding life, but how do you go about procuring the latter?

  7. Definition of schizoid PD has its roots in psycho analysis when definition of introversion is more coming psychology behaviour studies area. So they are results of different cultures, and at least partly overlapping.

    Schizoidims was originally part of schiprenic continuum where it was thought that splitting the minds progress in steps from schizoidism trough schizotypal to schizophrenia. But what is now known is that schizophrenia is neutral disease and should be dropped off from this spectrum.
    There’s still a issue is schizoidism real or is just another example of psychoanalytical mambojambo.

  8. I never usually read comments or even blog posts this long but something about your writing style interested me and I like yourability to articulate words together so well. I’m an extrovert myself (ENFJ) but I’d like
    to point out in your list of characteristics theres one which appealed to me.

    “-Indifference to either praise or criticism.

    (Does so many things outside of regular society that one stops caring whether others approve or disapprove. One has to stop caring to stay sane!)”

    It’s like Eminem, he sticks his fingers up and says “Fuck the world!”
    not out of attention, but because theres a point in your life where
    you realize your better off without anyones praise or approval because
    that shit comes from within. That’s true power. I think theres a lot of power in your blog, a lot of shit which no one has ever put on the
    table, keep it up because you actually sound like a genius.

    “Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.” – Dag Hammarskjold

  9. Also, when will you fix your page for “Extrovert ‘Reality’” I’m
    interested in reading it but at the moment the links not working,
    peace

  10. Excellent post!

    I have read your blog before, perhaps a year or more ago. I’m glad I stumbled on this post tonight, as it echoes my own thoughts on this subject. (Now i’ll have to stick around and read more. :) )

    You wrote: “If one is forced to pursue one’s favorite activities solitarily and secretly then it seems as though one takes pleasure in nothing by the light of day.” This reminds me of something i’ve been fond of saying lately: “They all think i’m at home sitting in the corner crying.” I get the impression that this is what people think of me and my solitary activities.

    Schizoid Personality Order.

  11. Pingback: Introversion and Schizoid Traits | Neurodiversity

  12. think myself more like observer.
    I have serious issues in my life. I’m very seriously introverted and I was tested for aspergers but results were negative.

    You can think pathological introversion vs pathological extroversion in terms of Schizoid vs Histrionic. Both Schizoid PD and Histrionic PD will be ditched in the next DSM.

    Schizoid PD is also placed in schizophrenia spectrum because it resembles negative symptoms of schizophrenia. I find that pretty scary because I’m only missing positive symptoms of it (psychotic part). It is strange though that negative symptoms are sometimes considered even more serious hallucinations and stuff. I think it is the matter of personality preferences. Forced mentally being in schizoid state could be very serious torture for more extroverted individuals.

    Is there spectrum where we could place those flamboyant extroverted HPD people?

  13. Pingback: [INTP] Schizoid Personality Disorder

  14. On the subject of the point…

    “-Lack of desire for sexual experiences with another person.”

    …I’d like to add that this is compared against a baseline determined squarely by extraverts and advertised ad nauseum in the media. It’s the accepted wisdom that pursuit of sex (not relationships, sex) is a biological imperative that everyone feels in much the same way – but it’s obviously a lot more complicated than that. People don’t just seek sexual encounters because of a hormonal compulsion; it’s also a mechanism that people use to boost their own egos, to fulfill social expectations, and to establish status. Extraverts naturally are more inclined to do these things frequently than are introverts, who are probably on the whole less likely to give a damn about this kind of ritualisation of sex. They aren’t necessarily showing a lack of desire or appetite for sex itself, but give the appearance of that just by skipping all the extraneous socially-mandated sex that the more gregarious (thus more observed) members of society are busily trying to get.

    I like your perspective, btw. Will definitely check out the rest of this blog.

  15. Thanks for all your uplifting and validating comments! As an INFP I always felt “less than” when called “too sensitive” and “too quiet” when in fact, I experience a rich inner life and have several very positive and fulfilling relationships. Note I said “several” and not “great quantities” because I love a few deep individuals, especially sensitive thoughtful and interesting female ones, and eschew contact with the loud and aggressive ones who don’t get me at all. Your blog is great, thanks again.
    Btw, really happy the DSM-5 is leaving out schizoid—what a bogus disorder.

  16. I find this article a little incorrect because a lot of what you are saying isn’t quite true. I have SPD and the way I act isn’t defensive, I don’t show emotions because I don’t have them, I see no need for them and as a result I never feel anything. Also, I prefer solitarily activities and being alone because I don’t like people. I have a few friends, but I can only stand them for so long. And for the comment by Gnosos saying, “what a bogus disorder,” You have absolutely no idea what it is like to live the way I do. I can assure you that this disorder is very real.

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