Understanding Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Friends cast in first season. Front: Cox, Anis...

Friends cast in first season. Front: Cox, Aniston. Back: LeBlanc, Kudrow, Schwimmer, Perry. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Pop quiz: what word is similar to “schizotypal”?  If you said “schizophrenia”, then you are right.  Schizotypal is derived from the two words schizophrenia and genotype.  Schizophrenias see, hear and believe things that aren’t really there.  Genotype is the genetic makeup of an individual, think DNA.  So putting the two together a Schizotypal Personality Disorder (SPD) is someone who has may seem schizophrenic but is not a full-blown schizophrenic.  Confused yet?  Good because that is precisely what it feels like to speak to a SPD.

 

So what is SPD?  Here is the technical DSM-V definition:

 

  • Identity:  Confused boundaries between self and others
  • Self-direction:  Incoherent goals, no clear set of standards
  • Empathy:  Difficulty understanding impact of behavior on others
  • Intimacy:  Mistrust and anxiety with close relationships
  • Eccentricity:  Odd, unusual, or bizarre behavior and appearance
  • Cognitive and perceptual dysregulation:  Odd or unusual thought processes, over-elaborate speech
  • Unusual beliefs and experiences:  Unusual experiences of reality
  • Restricted affectivity:  Little reaction to emotional situations, indifference or coldness
  • Withdrawal:  Preference for being alone
  • Suspiciousness:  Expectations of signs of interpersonal harm

 

The practical definition looks more like this:

 

  • Loner lacking close friends
  • Feels external events have personal meaning
  • Peculiar, eccentric or unusual thinking, beliefs or behavior
  • Dresses in peculiar ways
  • Belief in special powers
  • Phantom pains
  • Excessive social anxiety
  • Rambling oddly and endlessly during conversations
  • Suspicious or paranoid ideas
  • Doubts the loyalty of others
  • Flat emotions

 

Still not sure what a SPD looks like in person?  Lisa Kudrow who played Pheobe from “Friends” did a wonderful job portraying SPD.  Remember the “Smelly Cat” song or the “Pigeon” song (look them up on YouTube)?  None of her songs ever made sense which added to the humor of the show but for a SPD what they are saying makes perfect sense and everyone else is crazy.

 

So how do you deal with a person who might have SPD?  Here are a few suggestions:

 

  • Don’t follow them down the rabbit trail, stay focused on the topic.
  • Don’t try to apply logic to random comments; it only frustrates you, not them.
  • Emotional reasoning won’t work either because their emotions don’t make sense with the circumstances.
  • They will agree with you even when they don’t.
  • Put everything in writing for future reference.
  • Expect to re-explain over and over.
  • Be patient, show no emotion.  They shut down when confronted.
  • Questions should be simple almost child-like.

 

SPDs live in their own world and are very happy that way.  While they will invite you in on occasion, the level of intimacy will not be the same as other people in your life.  Be patient with SPDs and allow them to control the speed of the relationship, they will be much more willing to engage that way.

 

 

 

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

 

How to parent a difficult child

You have read the parenting books, implemented the ideas, and tried new techniques but nothing seems to work.  While your other children seem to be responding and benefiting from intentional parenting, one of your children is still not thriving.  In fact, they are getting worse.  Maybe they have been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, SPD, OCD, ODD, CD or Asperser’s.  Such diagnoses can help to explain your child’s behavior but it does not help in understanding how to effectively parent them.   So you read more books and try to be more compassionate only to find that your child’s behavior is still not improving.

All is not lost and your efforts are not in vain.  For the most part you are likely to be on the right track with firm boundaries, negative consequences and positive rewards for behavior combined with a look at the heart of your child.  These elements are essential to intentional parenting yet it is not enough for your child.  Instead, sometimes it is the small changes that you can implement that make the biggest impact.  By adding these three rules to the techniques you are already doing, you may see better results.

No questions.  Questions like, “Why is your room still messy”, “Why did you do that”, and “What were you thinking” are unproductive.  If your child answers these questions honestly with “I forgot”, “I don’t know”, and “I wasn’t thinking”, this is likely to frustrate you even more.  Interrogating your child is almost never productive in the positive sense as it fosters rebellion in the heart of your child.  While it may give you some answers, the negative consequence of a strained relationship is more damaging.  Instead of questioning them, make statements like, “Your room is messy”, “Your behavior is not acceptable”, and “Think about this”.  Statements rather than questions reinforce your boundaries and provide security to your child.

No explanations.  Long winded explanations border on lecturing.  Remember when you were a kid; did you enjoy the lectures from your parents?  Didn’t you just tune them out after a period of time or talk to yourself in your head when it went on and on?  So, don’t repeat the same mistake with your child.  Instead be short, sweet and to the point.  Long winded explanations invite opportunities for your child to argue back as they discover potential loop holes in your explanation.  Keep your explanations to one or two sentence at the maximum.

No emotions.  Getting angry, becoming emotional, crying, laying on a guilt trip, or nervously laughing are all inappropriate emotions during discipline.  Feeling these emotions is normal and you should express them privately, but doing so in front of your child while disciplining will add to the tension of the moment.  Instead deal with the moment as needed and then go back to your child later when you are no so angry, emotional, teary, guilty or laughing and explain to your child the emotion you were feeling in one or two sentences.  This small change will teach your child not to react when emotional, but rather to reflect and then respond.

Small changes can make a big difference in handling a difficult child.  They are likely to be more demanding, more time-consuming, need more attention, and use more of your energy.  But by implementing these three simple rules, you will find that you will feel less drained and more prepared to handle the next challenge that comes your way.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

How to know when your child needs therapy

When your child struggles for a period of time, has difficulty in school, seems different at home than at school, or acts inconsistently with their personality, therapy designed specifically for children can help them overcome these challenges.  Most children experience difficulties from time to time while growing up.  Some of these challenges are physical (their changing bodies), some are mental (their school work), some are social (their friendships), some are environmental (their home life) and some are spiritual (their religious affiliations).  For some children, these challenges are easily faced and they continue to have a positive outlook on their future.  For other children, these challenges become road blocks and they seem to be stuck in a negative cycle.

As a parent, understanding your child’s challenge and how to best motivate and encourage them is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship with them.  Children take their cues from their parents so if a challenge is overwhelming for the parent, the child is likely to respond similarly.  However, if a parent is understanding, concerned and empathetic the child is likely to respond positively.  Sometimes just becoming aware of your child’s challenges and how best to deal with them will make all the difference in your relationship.

If your child has been dealing with abuse, developmental issues, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorderoppositional defiant disorder, mood disorders, or post traumatic stress disorder then therapy is beneficial for both the parent and the child.  Other struggles include social pressure, divorce, depression, anger, eating disorders, addictions, self harm, and grief.  Some of the indications that your child may need therapy are:

  • change in appetite
  • nervous more than usual
  • difficulty concentrating
  • problems at school
  • aggressive or angry
  • nightmares
  • trouble sleeping
  • mood swings
  • seems depressed
  • loud noises are bothersome
  • regressing to younger behavior
  • refusing to talk
  • fears separation from parents
  • change in friends
  • socially withdrawn
  • personality change
  • problem with life transition (death in the family, divorce, move, new school)

Most of the time, therapy is not a long process for a child as they adjust and adapt more quickly than adults.  The combination of therapy for the parents and the child is doubly beneficial as it helps the entire family unit to be on the same page.  If therapy is not timely, some of the challenges can be so overwhelming for a child that they feel defeated and this belief can last a lifetime.  It is never too late to begin the therapy process with your child; it is only too late if never started.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.