Thursday, March 25, 2010

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Schizotypal symptoms are truly odd. These individuals do not quite meet the requirements for a diagnosis of schizophrenia (a more serious disorder), but they show many milder similarities ---minus the verbal incoherence and complete loss of touch with reality as seen in active schizophrenia. Schizotypal symptoms include ideas of reference (the words of a popular song “are instructions for me to do something”), strange superstitions, the feeling that they can “read minds”, or that they can see the world through a "sixth sense" (seeing ghosts). These individuals think and talk in odd ways that are elaborate but vague and complicated; their thinking is paranoid in nature; they show inappropriate or flattened emotions; lack close friends outside of their immediate family; and they show excessive social anxiety and suspicions fears. People with this disorder are at risk for suicide attempts and to be hospitalized with other mental psychological problems.

A Representative Example

The mother brought her child for treatment because he was overly-interested in weapons, combat games, and always wanted to dress in black. The mother showed distinct features of schizotypal personality disorder in that she believed that she could communicate with her dead relatives when she was in a certain mental state. The state she described was that of being tired enough to go to sleep, yet not quit being sleep: but she also had to be in a high state of need or desire to communicate which in order to achieve success. Her mood while elaborately describing this process was high, almost giddy. At times she would become extremely serious and lower her voice to a whisper. The lady also said that she could detect "life forms" in a room without ever seeing them. She proceeded to describe times when she could feel them and later discovered a family pet sleeping behind a piece of furniture. She swore that she had seen the ghost of a former pet (a black puppy wearing a red collar under a table) and asked her therapist not to show skepticism about this event to her son.

Suspected Causes

Schizotypal personality disorder is thought to be associated with odd and confusing family communication styles and may also have a genetic basis. This personality disorder may have biological similarities to schizophrenia Increased levels of the neurotransmitter, dopamine, and enlarged brain ventricles as well as attentional deficits occur in both disorders. There is correlational evidence that relatives of depressed individuals are more likely to show schizotypal disorder. The reverse is also true.

Dr. Tom, 3/15/10

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