People with Schizotypal personality disorder are usually described as odd, eccentric or “a little off” by people who know them. They commonly show evidence of mildly distorted thinking, perceptions, and behaviors, such as belief in UFOs, telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance, ghosts, past lives, etc. They may dress in eccentric ways. They are often drawn to cults, mystical gurus, gnostic forms of religion, and/or the occult, probably because these groups offer them confirmation of their odd experiences and perceptions. Though sharing in common some aspects of positive symptoms of schizophrenia, schizotypal people generally do not have psychotic breaks, and are quite able to function in society.
The following diagnostic criteria must be met before a diagnosis of Schizotypal Personality Disorder is warranted, according to the DSM-IV-TR:
A) A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as by cognitive or perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:
- ideas of reference (excluding delusions of reference)
- odd beliefs or magical thinking that influences behavior and is inconsistent with subcultural norms (e.g., superstitiousness, belief in clairvoyance, telepathy, or “sixth sense”; in children and adolescents, bizarre fantasies or preoccupations.
- Unusual perceptual experiences, including bodily illusions
- odd thinking and speech (e.g., vague, circumstantial, metaphorical, over elaborate, or stereotyped)
- suspiciousness or paranoid ideation
- inappropriate or constricted affect
- behavior or appearance that is odd, eccentric or peculiar
- lack of close friends or confidants other than first-degree relatives
- excessive social anxiety that does not diminish with familiarity and tends to be associated with paranoid fears rather than negative judgments about self