Difference between Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia and schizotypal personality disorder sound similar and they are often confused. To complicate matters, people with schizotypal personality disorder may develop schizophrenia and it is pretty difficult to tell when the former becomes the latter. We will discuss the differences between the two mental conditions further in this article.


Schizotypal Personality Disorder vs Schizophrenia
A schematic representation of the essence of schizotypal personality disorder

Schizotypal personality disorder manifests itself in social withdrawal and social anxiety. People with schizotypal personality disorder fear being in society, sometimes to the point that they choose to be alone for a significant period of time whatever it costs them. While being in the company of even close friends and family members, schizotypal people tend to feel extreme discomfort and as a response to this discomfort they behave inappropriately. Schizotypal people usually have normal cognitive skills and that makes them aware of their abnormal behavior in normal situations. Feeling guilty for one’s strange behavior, a schizotypal personality restricts himself to a very close circle of people or even opts for being completely isolated. One of the symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder is short-term hallucinations, both auditory and visual. It is often reaction to these hallucinations that makes the behavior look odd.

Signs and symptoms of schizotypal personality disorder:

  • Limited emotional responsiveness
  • Desire to dress inappropriately
  • Strong beliefs in occult and magic powers
  • Obsessive unstoppable thoughts, often with violent and sexual content
  • Delusions of persecution
  • Incoherent thoughts expressed in unnecessarily elaborate speeches
  • Inability to make a simple social contact, social anxiety
A self-portrait of a person with schizophrenia, showing the diseased person’s perception of the distorted experience of reality

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness. People with schizophrenia experience intense and long lasting hallucinations. The auditory hallucinations are prevalent and manifest themselves in commanding voices that tell a patient to do certain things, to refrain from something, or warn about horrible things that may happen to a person unless he does what the voices tell him to do. Visual hallucinations are less common and usually include visions of the horrific state of the world. People with schizophrenia tend to neglect norms of society and to keep poor hygiene and an overall repellent outlook and behavior. Schizophrenics can also experience delusions of grandeur, believing they are endowed with an infinite power, or delusions of persecution thinking that some powerful people are after them for a good reason.

Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia:

  • Poor hygiene and grooming
  • Inability to solve simple problems, for example, to perform basic mathematic operations
  • Incoherent speech
  • Troubles with processing information
  • Persistent “voices” speaking to a patient
  • Intense visual hallucinations
  • Catatonic state
  • Unnecessary recurring actions


Comparison chart

Schizotypal Personality Disorder Schizophrenia
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by only short-term delusions and hallucinations For people with schizophrenia, delusions and hallucinations are intense and long lasting
People with schizotypal personality disorder are usually aware that they experiencing delusions People with schizophrenia do not doubt that their delusions are “real”
People with schizotypal personality disorder may lead perfectly normal lives and maintain limited social connections People with schizophrenia are usually completely withdrawn and asocial

Schizotypal Personality Disorder vs Schizophrenia

What is the difference between Schizotypal Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia?

  • Schizotypal people have a distorted sense of the world around and see hallucinatory images and sounds. A schizotypal person often responds to such voices, and that looks like one is “talking aloud to oneself.” However, these patterns are usually short-term and are controllable by a patient. In the case of schizophrenia, on the other hand, the delusions are long lasting. A schizophrenic would hear voices and see horrible images forever without being able to control them.
  • Cognitive abilities are not impaired for people with schizotypal personality disorder. They are aware that delusions they experience are only delusions. It is as though they “see a dream” while being awake; and they are aware of a dream state. The delusions associated with schizophrenia, such as delusion de grandeur and delusion of persecution, are the reality for a suffering patient. A schizophrenic would never doubt them.
  • Schizotypal personality disorder is a “disorder of withdrawal.” To feel reasonably well, a schizotypal person has to significantly limit a circle of friends and social contacts. Yet, there are always some people a schizotypal person feels comfortable with, and that makes his personal and social life reasonably healthy. Schizophrenia, on the other hand, leads to a complete social withdrawal. In extreme cases it is manifested in a state of catatonia, during which a patient is completely immersed in oneself and is not aware that the world around exists.