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Where can I find out more about Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
January 1, 2014 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Where, preferably online, can I find credible information about Schizotypal Personality Disorder?

In 1999 I was discharged from the Navy after spending only a few months at the Nuclear Power Training Command. I was given a diagnosis of SPD, ending my less than 10 month experiment with the military. I have been in denial about the disorder for years throughout college etc., but now, fifteen years later, I Googled "schizotypal" and realize, 'yeah, that's totally me, and this is why I'm so friggin weird.'

Problem is, most of the information on the Internet seems akin to MBTI typology bullshit; is there so little objective information, and am I right to be wary about all the blog chatter concerning "low latent inhibition"? Where can I go to get beyond the story-spinning? Are there legitimate web-based support groups? Or do I just need to get a second job to pay for a good therapist? :)

Thanks.
posted by jwhite1979 to Science & Nature (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'd hit your nearest university library if I were you (online catalogue first, but if you can't find the relavant books on the internet, you might have to go there). Start with textbooks with names like "Handbook of Clinical Psychology" or "Abnormal Psychology". For an alternative point of view to the mainstream clinical psychology, check out the work of R.D Laing, but I'd definitely recommend reading some mainstream clinical psychology as well.
posted by singingfish at 10:59 PM on January 1


Not medical advice, etc.

For those that are curious what a Schizotypal Personality Disorder is: Here are the diagnosis for IV vs 5.

Look through Google Scholar and learn what a full psychological diagnosis entails. The thing with personality disorders though, is that most people that have them don't think that there is anything wrong with their way of thinking/behavior/beliefs. You asking this question makes me doubt that you do have a personality disorder. Additionally, in order for you to have a diagnoses - the psychological deficit needs to be interfering with your ability to have a normal life. So if you know that you are "weird", but are able to have a normal life otherwise - I'd work on awareness of self instead of focusing on a diagnosis. Looking through your history, you seem to have gone through school ok, got married and have a job. If those are fine - I wouldn't worry about it and caulk up the Navy diagnosis to being a kid.
posted by Brent Parker at 11:01 PM on January 1 [3 favorites]


The thing with personality disorders though, is that most people that have them don't think that there is anything wrong with their way of thinking/behavior/beliefs. You asking this question makes me doubt that you do have a personality disorder. Additionally, in order for you to have a diagnoses - the psychological deficit needs to be interfering with your ability to have a normal life. So if you know that you are "weird", but are able to have a normal life otherwise - I'd work on awareness of self instead of focusing on a diagnosis. Looking through your history, you seem to have gone through school ok, got married and have a job. If those are fine - I wouldn't worry about it and caulk up the Navy diagnosis to being a kid.

That's just not at all true. I work with a number of people with personality disorders, and many of them are very aware of how the personality disorder is affecting their thinking, behavior, and beliefs. Many also have completed school, gotten married, and have jobs.

OP, your best bet might be meeting with a psychiatrist just to ask for more information about the diagnosis. Not necessarily to do continued weekly therapy, but just to learn what the diagnosis means and what treatment options might be available.
posted by jaguar at 11:27 PM on January 1 [6 favorites]


Can you see a psychologist or counselor on a sliding scale, or perhaps talk to someone at a teaching university at low cost? Talking to a pro is the best way to learn more about any diagnosis, and especially about personality disorders, which are so broadly specified as to make self-application a tricky proposition.

It's been 13 or 14 years since you were diagnosed, the definition of the diagnosis has changed since then, and so has your environment. Many people who are diagnosed with personality disorders evolve over time such that their diagnosis changes. It sounds like you are experiencing things that lead you to seek advice, so you should get the best current diagnosis you can. IMO a psychologist/therapist is a better starting point for that than a psychiatrist. The former will spend more time with you and cast a wider net for diagnoses/plans. My experience with psychiatrists is a 15-minute convo followed by a prescription - appropriate if you are sure about diagnosis going in, not so much if you want to explore what's going on before concluding on a treatment path.
posted by SakuraK at 12:20 AM on January 2


[One comment deleted; please don't debate each other here. Also, please avoid making a diagnosis for the OP based on nothing more than this question, and do link to sources to help answer the question. This isn't the spot for "in-my-opinion" answers. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 2:57 AM on January 2


I think SakuraK has the right approach.

I would try to frame it in my head this way, "I feel like there's a bit of an issue, I received this diagnosis before but don't understand all of it and I'd like to get competent help." That's all. I think if you frame this as an issue with a diagnosis in mind, you will spend a lot of time reading things that don't apply to you and driving yourself bananas.

It's a bit (not entirely) like Googling the causes for stomach pain and self-diagnosing with an ulcer and then creating your own treatment program when a doctor would have told you that you just ate a bad mussel.

So I'd start with the question first and go talk to someone.
posted by kinetic at 3:35 AM on January 2


The thing with personality disorders though, is that most people that have them don't think that there is anything wrong with their way of thinking/behavior/beliefs. You asking this question makes me doubt that you do have a personality disorder.

This is deeply and manifestly untrue. I've known something was wrong with me for a long time, and I now have a diagnosis for it. I've spent a lot of time recently around people with mood and personality disorders, and almost universally we recognized that we were not interacting with the world normally and sought help.

Yeah, the thing about personality disorders is that they do make your disordered thinking feel like it's normal. That's a hallmark of basically all mental illnesses. But it's not hard to see that it's not normal. Asking the question says absolutely nothing about someone's diagnosis; it's like that tired old trope about 'if you can ask if you're crazy, you're not.' It's really not that simple.

Back to the OP:

I absolutely agree with everyone above who is saying you should find a therapist for an assessment. If at all possible, get your Naval records sent to whoever you go to; it's very very useful for therapists to have data points they can compare.

Knowing you have a problem is the best first step in dealing with that problem. The DSM links above are a good place to start in understanding some of what's going on with you.

The thing that keeps cropping up again and again as a therapy for a whole lot of disorders is Mindfulness. That alone may help you manage your symptoms and your reactions while gaining more mental stability. Essentially it's the practice of being in the moment.

Best of luck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:38 AM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Actually, the third Hunger Games book illustrated the point perfectly. Peeta's been tortured and brainwashed (which is basically what mental illnesses do to you, except it's your own brain hurting itself), and is confused about reality. He keeps asking "Real or not real?" when discussing his memories with others.

A lot of people with personality disorders end up at a similar point, asking if what we're doing is really normal or not. That doesn't mean we're not sick.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:41 AM on January 2


It's worth nothing that many professionals think the military is too aggressive in diagnosing personality disorders.

pg. 9 Many observers believe that personality disorders are diagnosed too frequently in the military. The diagnosis may be made when more serious disorders are missed, when command exaggerates performance and behavioral problems in referrals to psychiatrists, when servicemembers’ anger and frustration with the military are mistaken for the disorders, or when psychiatrists use the category to help soldiers get out or make soldiers go away.
posted by Brent Parker at 12:28 PM on January 2 [2 favorites]


Thank you, everyone, very much for the replies. Looks like despite my fear of therapy the wise course will be to seek a psychologist; my wife says she supports me in this, but that I have to assert some agency in finding one and setting up an appointment. Scary stuff.

RE: some of the specific things mentioned above, I'd just clarify a few things. For instance, I have zero doubt whether or not "schizotypal" applied to me in 1999. Oh, it did. I've perused the diagnostic criteria, and it's a perfect fit. I remember trying to explain to the psychiatrist how I thought the world "flickered," and that I was convinced I could literally tear away all this reality if I could just find a knife sharp enough or catch a corner of the edge. In high school I was fairly convinced that my best friend--my only friend and a real person, flesh and blood--was death itself, and that the history of humanity were cells within his constitution, and that the more we tried to improve ourselves through learning, the more we were transforming ourselves into his likeness. Yeah, I was seriously weird. Plus I have a family history of schizophrenia, and I'm left handed. Those two factors are correlated well with SPD.

But in college and since I've actually learned how to think and interpret reality. I have lots of friends. I've turned social interaction into a high art, although it drains me unspeakably. My weird beliefs have become more acceptable, at least at the limits of philosophy and physics. (For instance I've been saying for a few years now that reality is a supercomputer, a holographic projection derived from a finite series of discrete binary representations along a 2 dimensional surface. And it seems that I may have been right!) But with the loss of the more ridiculous beliefs, there has arisen new anxieties: I have to be "on" constantly, every waking hour, processing information actively to make sure I'm not being an idiot. It's exhausting, and my paranoia about being thought an idiot has me living deep in the Maine woods mopping floors on the third shift at an old folks' home.

So basically I was wondering if there were other people whose experiences were similar to mine. I've never met anyone like myself, and I'd hoped there were support groups or some Internet subculture of schizotypals who can provide context for my experiences. And when you need to know if a subculture exists, you ask MeFites. :)

Last thing I wanted to say, specifically to feckless: Mindfulness, yes; I've been a practicing Buddhist for four years now. I've no objective way to know what changes occurred since I began my Zen practice, but I think my behavior is far calmer, even if my mind races on and gets caught, sometimes for months, in what I've come to think of as "Zen loops."
posted by jwhite1979 at 2:45 PM on January 2


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