Variations of the Schizoid Personality

Although contrasts among personality prototypes sharpen their distinctions, most individuals combine aspects of several personalities. In the real world, there are very few pure schizoid personalities, as is the same with the other patterns. Instead, each personality includes several variations, reflecting its combination with other, secondary constructs that give the major type additional coloration. Subtypes of the schizoid personality are discussed in the following section and summarized in Figure 11.1. Actual cases may or may not fall into one of these combinations.

The Languid Schizoid

A combination of the schizoid and depressive personalities, the languid schizoid is marked by a slow personal tempo, low activation level, and the absence of vigorous and energetic action. Easily fatigued, with only weak motoric expressiveness, languids seem either too comfortable or too lazy; they are unable to rouse themselves to meet their responsibilities, pursue the simplest pleasures, or behave with spontaneity. Interperson-ally, they have a quiet, colorless, and vaguely dependent way of relating, hybridizing the introversion of the schizoid with the lethargy characteristic of the depressive personality. As such, they rarely take the initiative, seem broadly anhedonic and cognitively detached, or vaguely ruminative. Such individuals have few interests, preferring a simple, repetitive, and dependent lifestyle. Unlike the affectless schizoid, described later, lan-guids are not necessarily emotionally void. They do suffer the same type of profound angst often seen in depressives, yet their lack of vitality ensures that their sentiments are rarely expressed strongly.

FIGURE 11.1 Variants of the Schizoid Personality.

The Remote Schizoid

Although more characteristic of the avoidant personality development, children subjected to intense hostility and rejection very early in life may protectively withdraw so completely that their native capacity for feeling and relating to others becomes permanently reduced. Here, youngsters otherwise capable of normal interpersonal adjustment learn that such desires and emotions yield only anguish and disillusionment. Unlike the basic schizoid, some capacity for feeling and relating remains with the remote schizoid, but the wish for affective bonding has been so completely repressed that it no longer enters conscious awareness. Remote schizoids who are more severely impaired may also possess features of the schizotypal personality.

Such individuals are often seen among the homeless, the chronically institutionalized, and the residents of halfway houses. Whereas the basic schizoid is aloof and insensitive to emotional experience, remote schizoids may express a measure of social anxiety as well as frequent behavioral eccentricities, autistic thinking, and depersonal-ization. At best, their low self-esteem and deficits in social competence allow them only a peripheral, but dependent, role in interpersonal and familial relationships. Most seek solitude and go through life as detached observers closed off from sources of growth and gratification. Some earn a marginal livelihood in low-status jobs, but most follow a meaningless, ineffectual, and idle pattern, drifting aimlessly on the periphery of social life. Many are totally dependent on public support.

The Depersonalized Schizoid

Often observed simply staring off into space, depersonalized schizoids seem dreamy and distant, as if they were contemplating some peaceful vision that draws them more and more away from the everyday existence of the mundane world. Like all schizoids, they are extremely inattentive and disengaged from the affairs of life. More than most, however, depersonalized schizoids have deteriorated into obliviousness. Although they appear preoccupied internally with something substantive, they are in fact preoccupied with nothing at all. Rather, their detachment takes a peculiar, schizotypal-like form: These schizoids feel like disembodied observers viewing themselves from the outside, detached not only from the real world but also from their own thoughts and feelings, from their imagination and fantasies, and from their own corporeal bodies, as well. Focused neither internally nor externally, they possess an ethereal attitude and only a residual physical presence. Whereas the basic schizoid pattern is best described as cog-nitively vacant, depersonalized schizoids seem cognitively absent.

The Affectless Schizoid

The isolated, emotionally detached, and solemn characteristics of the affectless schizoid suggest constitutional factors, perhaps some abnormality of the neurological systems that support empathy, warmth, and sensitivity in human relationships. Although this might seem to suggest schizotypal features, the schizotypal exhibits a defect in the ability to understand the meaning of human communication. In contrast, the affectless variant combines the apathy of the schizoid with the emotional constriction and formality of the compulsive, effectively eliminating all emotional expression. Like compulsives, they find structured settings comfortable and are more likely to be effective in adult roles than the basic schizoid pattern. But like schizoids, they express the basic conflict of the compulsive, autonomy versus obedience, only weakly if at all.

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