Autism Vs. Schizoid Personality Disorder

Here, it’s important to keep diagnoses clear: there is schizoid personality disorder, schizophrenia, and schizo affective disorder. Laymen have a tendency to refer to a single mental disorder by all three mental health diagnoses, and they are quite in the wrong by doing so. Schizophrenia, or classic schizophrenia, is the type we all think about. Individuals who suffer from it typically hear voices, have auditory or visual hallucinations, and are told by disembodied voices to harm themselves or others. Schizo affective disorder is a milder form of schizophrenia, where the hallucinations are focused on just one task, one person or one situation that the affected person can’t seem to shake; it perseveres, like the broken record that constantly repeats itself. The patient is also tormented by a mood disorder, which can look like depression or bipolar disorder. Schizoid personality disorder resembles autism in that the affected person chooses to be alone, appears aloof and lacking in emotion where others are concerned; however, the person affected by schizoid personality disorder has a very rich internal fantasy world that he likes to escape to as often as possible because he views the real world as too difficult to live in.

There’s also schizotypal disorder, which is diagnosed when a person is desperate for social isolation. He needs to be as far from people as he can, and can’t develop a relationship because the fear and anxiety he feels is so overwhelming that it just feels “safer” to b alone. He might talk to himself a lot, or have very odd notions about what other people say and do.

A few decades back, several people who were diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder were actually misdiagnosed. It was later discovered that they had autism, because the defining characteristic of the schizoid disorder was proven not to exist in people with autism. Some were even misdiagnosed with schizotypal disorder as well!

While it’s possible that these two schizo disorders, or even schizophrenia, can be comorbid with autism, it’s highly unlikely because of the significantly low rate of occurrence of anything in the personality disorder or psychotic spectrum. The only things that might make a difference is if both autism and schizoid personality disorder runs in a family; both have shown to have some measure of genetic connection. However, in order to be diagnosed with both, the person with autism would also have to be really high functioning such that they can describe what they are thinking and feeling internally, and that’s just really too hard for most people with autism to do. Their thought processes don’t really jump into the realm of fantasy because they are very logical and literal in the way that they think.

Ergo, while the schizoid personality disorder and autism may have some familiar features, they are otherwise nothing alike, nor can they really exist in the same person. They are two different arching disorders which would be exceedingly difficult to cross. Statistically speaking, it’s much more probable to have autism than any schizoid disorder, even with family genetics and history factoring in.

Check out,
1). Behavioural and Emotional Disturbance in High-Functioning and low functioning Autism

8 comments

  1. The estimates of prevalence both to autism (in general sense) and to SPD are varied but usually are around 1% of the population (meaning that, statistically, the probability of being schizoid and autistic is more or less the same).

  2. “while [they] may have some familiar features, they are otherwise nothing alike”

    ^very concise and informative

    Take away everything they have in common, and in what is left you see there is nothing in common. Very productive reasoning.

  3. How come the person who wrote hadn’t yet catch up on autism diagnosis by 2013? It’s highly unprofessional and irresponsible to misinform about people that are so often the object of harassment and others types of abuse in part precisely bcs of those phallacies.

  4. ridiculous – autistic people often have an extremely rich inner world and are very capable of fantasy. the fact this is not interactively expressed such as by roleplay does not imply it isn’t there. some autistics are outright creatives, excelling in visual arts, music, dance.

    as psychiatry evolves, they often redefine personality disorders – example: histrionic pd was removed in dsm-5. watch schizotypal get removed some years down the line, when they decide a lot of people with that dx are not disordered but #actuallyautistic.

  5. also bad rap on schizophrenia peeps – voices are not a defining characteristics, and if present don’t necessarily instruct to cause harm to anyone, this article is massively misinformed and misinforming.

  6. I was diagnosed with asperger’s but it was changed to schizotypal. I think people are afraid of person being out of touch with reality so much that they rather give autism diagnosis and because it is socially more acceptable these days. My out of touch state with world is quite egosyntonic – I do not get stressed over my symptoms although this dream like existence is not excellent either.

    Well my points were completely cognitive:
    I have irrational paranoid fear of people (as in something bad that I can not put my finger around not as in they are going to kill me).
    I do not really have problems reading faces (when I concentrate).
    I have had hallucinations.
    My thoughts are very weird and quasi-theoretical connective mesh.
    I tend internalize everything and not really accept things at their face value. I really dig deep into the meta level.
    I have no sensory sensitivities but I have hypochondriac reactions to plausible stimuli (aka not direct senses).
    I have trouble seeing how things really are concretely and I tend to think that everything is a metaphor.
    My thinking is very top down and I have hard time with bottom up.
    I really see myself in schizotypy spectrum.
    People with aspergers seem similiarish and I’m not one of them.
    I can not handle routine.
    More I read about scientific articles about asperger’s thinking the less I relate.
    My relatives have plenty of magical thinking.
    I have experienced stuff such religious revelations where God was talking to me etc.

    The worst thing was when two psychologists said to me: “You are autistic you do not have a psychosis.”
    They refused to listen to me. Yeah, they are afraid of it and I do not have full blown psychosis although it can be close. Only person who listened to me was a psychiatrist who later changed my diagnosis.
    Well, the thing is that I can do math and stuff and even got a graduate STEM degree but still.. Dr Emmett Brown’s character is quite classical case of schizotypal personality.

Leave a Reply to Fer Ramirez Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *