In an earlier post I briefly touched on “secret” schizoid personality disorder. Here is the relevant passage from the post:
Do you have “secret” schizoid personality disorder? (See Masterson and Klein, Disorders of the Self) Schizoid personality disorder is a clear avoidance of interpersonal relationships, social interactions and social exposure. However, people with secret schizoid personality disorder are so good at pretending that they are “good” in social situations that they may be seen by others as narcissists. Like narcissists, they tend to stay away from intimacy and emotionally charged situations, and they are deadly scared of having deep feelings for others. However, they are more secretive, they tend to make less impulsive decisions, they tend to show a greater degree of emotional detachment, and they are not likely to have very many sex partners, as even sex can seem too intimate and scary to them.
Inspired by yesterday’s post, I thought it would be a good time to follow up on this condition. People with schizoid personality disorder can be hard to diagnose but one thing they tend to have in common is the tendency to stay away from all interpersonal and social interactions.
The really hard cases to diagnose are people with secret schizoid personality disorder. They have a strong desire to stay away from all human interaction but they have other desires as well. They desire to be successful and be seen in a positive light publicly. As it is hard to be successful and be seen in a positive light while hiding, their desires are in conflict.
In the end, however, the desires to be successful and be seen in a positive light publicly trump the desire to avoid human interaction. So, they will do what they can to seem great in social situations or whenever it is required in order for them to be successful or be seen in a good light. The rest of the time they will hide.
They rarely form deep relationships with people. Romantic relationships may be mostly focused on relatively superficial things, such as sex. Friendships may consist in relatively superficial exchange of information.
Why do they bother having romantic relationships or friendships if they are completely anti-social? Because even people with schizoid personality disorder have a need for intimacy. However, they are too afraid of intimacy to do a whole lot about it. This is why they sometimes engage in superficial relations, even when this will not directly benefit their career or public appearance.
As I have noted on earlier occasions, having a personality disorder is not inconsistent with having an insecure attachment style. Quite on the contrary. Personality disorders often go hand in hand with an avoidant or anxious attachment style. Even though personality traits are to some extent genetically determined, there is room for the environment to shape and change them. So, the early childhood traumas that can cause an insecure attachment style can also be the trigger of a personality disorder.