What are the differences between Asperger's Syndrome and Schizoid Personality Disorder?
They are specifically listed as two separate disorders in the ICD, but what are the differences between Asperger's Syndrome and Schizoid Personality Disorder?
Since both result in a withdrawal from social situations, the two can seem quite similar to an outside observer; is there any accurate method used to distinguish between the two in a subject?
Schizoid personality disorder is characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships. However, with asperger syndrome, it's a limited empathy and understanding of other's situations. In other words, asperger syndrome deals with the inability to empathize while schizoid personality disorder deals with apathy toward other's emotions. Additionally, people with apserger syndrome tend to be less withdrawn than people with schizoid personality disorder. People who have asperger syndrome show repetitive behavior and interests, while schizoid personality disorder does not show this fixation toward repetitive behavior. Asperger syndrome is probably genetically linked somehow and is placed on the autism spectrum. However, schizoid personality disorder is not on the autism spectrum. I hope this response helped!
This is an extremely subtle distinction, if it is indeed a distinction at all. It implies that the schizoid can understand and internally resonate with others' emotions but simply doesn't care about or act on them. However, the definition of schizoid PD includes emotional coldness, detachment or reduced affect, a limited ability to express some emotions towards others, and a reduced or absent ability to feel pleasure. This, to me, looks remarkably like someone who almost completely lacks emotion as most of us understand it and would therefore be unable to empathize.
Individuals with a Schizoid Personality Disorder shows a pattern of dethachment from social relationships and a restricted range of emotional expression.
Moreover, the manual specifies the likeness of symptoms between Schizoid Personality Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder but the latter records
a more severely impaired social interaction and stereotyped behaviors and interests.
According to DSM-5, A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual's culture, is pervasive and inflexible and occur in two or more of these fields: 1- cognition 2- affectivity 3- interpersonal functioning 4- impulse control
The DSM-5 divided Personality disorders in three Clusters:
- Cluster A includes paranoid, schizoid, and schizotypal personality disorders.
- Cluster B includes antisocial, borderline, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorders,
- Cluster C includes avoidant, dependent, and obsessivecompulsive personality disorders.
Cluster A refers to "Individuals with these disorders often appear odd or eccentric." They show a bizzarre and strange behavior. The cognitive and perceptive dimension - dysfunctional in that disorders - has been correlated with an increased activity of dopaminergic system (Siever, Davis, 2004)
With regards to Aperger's Syndrome, DSM-5 folded it into the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders. To the diagnose is needed:
- Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts
- estricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history
- Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (Not essential for a diagnose of Schizoid Personality Disorder)
- Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning
- These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability
DSM-5 diagnostic criteria of Autism Spectrum Disorder
DSM - 5 (2013)
Siever LJ1, Davis KL. The pathophysiology of schizophrenia disorders: perspectives from the spectrum
Schizoid Personality Disorder has nothing to do with psychosis. A personality disorder is an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates from the norm of the individual’s culture. The pattern is seen in two or more of the following areas: cognition; affect; interpersonal functioning; or impulse control. The enduring pattern is inflexible and pervasive across a broad range of personal and social situations. It typically leads to significant distress or impairment in social, work or other areas of functioning. The pattern is stable and of long duration and its onset can be traced back to early adulthood or adolescence.
It is difficult to distinguish between these two because tests and criteria are not perfect. Still, one is a form of autism, one is related to schizophrenia, so they should be different. I would look at autistic traits: tendency to see patterns, interest in numbers, inability to read emotions. If these are normal, then probably it is not asperger or any form of autism. As for schizoid personality disorder, there is a question if we are dealing with a disorder or a personality type. If it is not damaging to the quality of life of the person or others, it should not be evaluated as a disorder. There is an introvert personality type which resembles schizoid and is connected with many difficulties in life, but is still not a personality disorder. So make these three distinctions, separate autistic spectrum by its specific signs, then disorder by evaluating if is counts as a disorder (to be treated). If not, it is simply a possibly rare personality type.
There is a good discussion of the issue at Scott Barry Kaufman A Call for New measures for Asperger's and Schizotypy, Scientific American, Aug 17. 2011. While is is of schizotypy, not schizoid, the problem is similar. In my answer I do not have good sources to refer to. Assuming that diagnostics criteria, like DSM IV 299.80 are filled for asperger and also schizoid criteria are filled, which can be so, then I would look for