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Personality Disorder and the Workplace

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Schizotypal Personality Disorder

The Schizotypal Personality Disorder is characterized by a pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal limitations and a reduced capacity for close relationships was well as by cognitive and perceptual distortions and eccentric behaviors. These individuals often have ideas of reference (but not delusions of reference), namely incorrect or distorted interpretations of casual experiences or incidences and external events by assigning unusual meaning to them specifically. They are likely to be highly superstitious or preoccupied with paranormal phenomena that are outside their normal context or culture. They may believe they have special powers to sense future events or read the thoughts of others or have special controls over others or influence over events. They may exhibit perceptual alternations such as hearing voices or sensing that someone is present when they are not. Their speech may appear unusual or incoherent and include idiosyncratic phraseology.

How the Schizotypal Personality Disorder may manifest in the workplace

Because these individuals often have an odd appearance, for example in the way they dress as well as in their speech, odd speech patterns and unusual perceptual experiences, they will typically find it difficult to fit in the workplace. They are likely to be suspicious of co-workers, thinking that colleagues may be plotting against them. They are uncomfortable around other people, especially if these individuals are unknown to them. They prefer to be by themselves, and therefore would struggle in a team environment, particularly where there is a high need for collaboration – most often the Schizoid will avoid these opportunities or expectations. Exacerbating this is their predisposition to be suspicious of others. Given their predisposition to present as being odd or eccentric, co-workers will likely be uncomfortable in their presence and avoid being associated with them. This is likely to advance the perception that others are talking about them and possibly plotting to undermine them.

It is best to respect and understand the schizoid’s need to be alone and have distance. When interacting with them, do not be overly inquisitive, but rather ask about general work issues and other benign non personal issues or current affairs. Do not be surprised or react negatively if the response you get from this interaction is disinterest. Given the lethargy of these individuals, it is preferable to make specific recommendations about what work should be accomplished and how, rather than pose a question while expecting a detailed and proactive response. If you are the schizoid’s superior, consider using technology such as teleconferencing to provide the individual some a sense of privacy and distance. This might include a quiet cube away from others, or even working from home.

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