I happened upon “Schizoid personality disorder” (SPD) at Wikipedia, and wondered why it is a disorder, that is, a “bad thing”. A footnote in the article leads to a summary of SPD. Here are some excerpts:
A person with schizoid personality disorder often:
- Appears distant and detached
- Avoids social activities that involve emotional closeness with other people
- Does not want or enjoy close relationships, even with family members….
People with schizoid personality disorder often do well in relationships that don’t focus on emotional closeness. They tend to be better at handling relationships that focus on:
- Intellectual activities
In other words, persons who “suffer” from SPD may in fact be highly productive in pursuits that demand (and reward) prowess in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — a.k.a. STEM. But because they don’t conform strictly to a psychiatric definition of normality they are said to have a disorder.
What is the psychiatric definition of a normal personality? This is from a page at the website of the American Psychiatric Association (APA):
Personality is the way of thinking, feeling and behaving that makes a person different from other people. An individual’s personality is influenced by experiences, environment (surroundings, life situations) and inherited characteristics. A person’s personality typically stays the same over time. A personality disorder is a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.
There are 10 specific types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are long-term patterns of behavior and inner experiences that differs significantly from what is expected. The pattern of experience and behavior begins by late adolescence or early adulthood and causes distress or problems in functioning. Without treatment, personality disorders can be long-lasting. Personality disorders affect at least two of these areas:
- Way of thinking about oneself and others
- Way of responding emotionally
- Way of relating to other people
- Way of controlling one’s behavior
Types of Personality Disorders
- Antisocial personality disorder: a pattern of disregarding or violating the rights of others. A person with antisocial personality disorder may not conform to social norms, may repeatedly lie or deceive others, or may act impulsively.
- Avoidant personality disorder: a pattern of extreme shyness, feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to criticism. People with avoidant personality disorder may be unwilling to get involved with people unless they are certain of being liked, be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected, or may view themselves as not being good enough or socially inept.
- Borderline personality disorder: a pattern of instability in personal relationships, intense emotions, poor self-image and impulsivity. A person with borderline personality disorder may go to great lengths to avoid being abandoned, have repeated suicide attempts, display inappropriate intense anger or have ongoing feelings of emptiness.
- Dependent personality disorder: a pattern of needing to be taken care of and submissive and clingy behavior. People with dependent personality disorder may have difficulty making daily decisions without reassurance from others or may feel uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of fear of inability to take care of themselves.
- Histrionic personality disorder: a pattern of excessive emotion and attention seeking. People with histrionic personality disorder may be uncomfortable when they are not the center of attention, may use physical appearance to draw attention to themselves or have rapidly shifting or exaggerated emotions.
- Narcissistic personality disorder: a pattern of need for admiration and lack of empathy for others. A person with narcissistic personality disorder may have a grandiose sense of self-importance, a sense of entitlement, take advantage of others or lack empathy.
- Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder: a pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfection and control. A person with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder may be overly focused on details or schedules, may work excessively not allowing time for leisure or friends, or may be inflexible in their morality and values. (This is NOT the same as obsessive compulsive disorder.)
- Paranoid personality disorder: a pattern of being suspicious of others and seeing them as mean or spiteful. People with paranoid personality disorder often assume people will harm or deceive them and don’t confide in others or become close to them.
- Schizoid personality disorder: being detached from social relationships and expressing little emotion. A person with schizoid personality disorder typically does not seek close relationships, chooses to be alone and seems to not care about praise or criticism from others.
- Schizotypal personality disorder: a pattern of being very uncomfortable in close relationships, having distorted thinking and eccentric behavior. A person with schizotypal personality disorder may have odd beliefs or odd or peculiar behavior or speech or may have excessive social anxiety.
Holy mackerel, Andy, there’s hardly a “normal” person alive. And certainly none of them is a psychiatrist. The very compilation of a list of personality traits that one considers “abnormal” is a manifestation of narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, at the very least.
Other than an actual disease of the brain, there is only one kind of mental “disorder” that requires treatment — criminal behavior. And the proper treatment for it is the application of criminal justice, sans psychiatric intervention. (See the articles by Thomas Szasz at FEE.)
I’ll Never Understand the Insanity Defense
Does Capital Punishment Deter Homicide?
Libertarian Twaddle about the Death Penalty
Crime and Punishment
Saving the Innocent?
Saving the Innocent?: Part II
More Punishment Means Less Crime
More About Crime and Punishment
More Punishment Means Less Crime: A Footnote
Clear Thinking about the Death Penalty
Let the Punishment Fit the Crime
A Precedent for the Demise of the Insanity Defense?
Another Argument for the Death Penalty
Less Punishment Means More Crime
Clear Thinking about the Death Penalty
What Is Justice?
Why Stop at the Death Penalty?
In Defense of Capital Punishment
Lock ‘Em Up
Free Will, Crime, and Punishment
Stop, Frisk, and Save Lives
Poverty, Crime, and Big Government
Rush to Judgment?
Stop, Frisk, and Save Lives II
4 thoughts on “Psychiatry Is a Disorder”
This post is way off base, and the dig at psychiatry is unwarranted. You’ve obviously never had to deal with a family member or close personal contact who truly suffers from one of these disorders.
A personality disorder exists when the characteristics of that disorder prevent the person from enjoying normal life. A person who has, for example, avoidant personality disorder, is often afraid to go out in public, has difficulty ordering off a menu at a restaurant, or standing up for themselves at work assuming they can even work.
Most people might show minor traits similar to the elements of these diseases. But for most people their lives are not truly affected by those traits in any seriously adverse way. There is a big difference between being slightly anxious in an unknown situation and being so anxious that one is unable to leave their own home.
Psychiatry has grown by leaps and bounds. Modern psychotropic drugs are truly life savers and help patients enjoy life. Most of the disorders above do have roots in the brain structures of patients and how they process hormones like seratonin and norepinephrine.
There are two kinds of people: 1) Those who divide people into two kinds; 2) Everyone else….
Brian’s response is circular: “A personality disorder exists when the characteristics of that disorder prevent the person from enjoying normal life.” Who defines normal? The disorders, as described by APA, apply to almost anyone and everyone. And, as I say in the post, some so-called disorders describe persons who actually make positive contributions.
If you or a loved one believe that you can benefit from psychiatry, be my guest. If a behavioral problem arises from an disease of the brain — as opposed to lack of discipline or incarceration — then medicine may be of help, which I acknowledge in the post. But that doesn’t give psychiatrists license to judge others (including politicians whom they’ve never met) or to dictate the boundaries of “normal” behavior.
Love the punchline: “The very compilation of a list of personality traits that one considers “abnormal” is a manifestation of narcissistic personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, at the very least.”
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