This article will be a continuation of the series concerning the history of the diagnostic category of schizoid personality disorder as articulated by Theodore Millon. Millon notes that Kretschmer saw the root of the schizoid’s “affective lameness” as a constitutional component of their temperament. Psychoanalytic thinkers, however, placing a great emphasis on early environmental factors pathogenesis, saw it as arising from childhood events. Early psychoanalysts, however, did not locate the genesis of the schizoid personality to a particular libidinal stage or one of psychosexual development. He notes, in particular, that Karl Menninger, Wilhelm Reich, W.R.D. Fairbairn, D.W. Winnicott and Helene Deutsch described what would later come to be known as the schizoid personality “in terms of psychoanalytic metapsychology.”
For example, Karl Menninger described the schizoid as someone who is essentially incapable of getting along well with others. His description seems to approach the active-detached pattern of the avoidant, however, rather than the passive-detachced of the schizoid, since he says “They maintain one kind of front for the world to look at if it cares (they don’t care), but the real self, having looked at the world and renounced it, retreats into an inner unseen life…They make make gestures, go through the motions…but the “pane of glass is always there.” they never really make lasting contacts.” He also describes them as unsociable, eccentric, reserved, quiet an dull.
Menninger sought to divide the schizoid into five distinct subtypes. First, there is the seclusive type. These prefer to be alone. Next, the hard-boiled type, who distances themselves from others by being heartless and ruthless. Next, there is the artistic variety who submits part of himself to the external world, but nonetheless remains aloo. Finally, he describes the “apparently stupid type” who is uninterested in his surroundings. He does not take part in social affairs and has little or no initiative.
Another significant paper was produced in the 1930s by Kasanin and Rosen, who described a group of schizoid patients as having few friends, preferring to amuse themselves alone, and tended to be shy, quiet and very sensitive. The latter trait is an interesting contrast from the affective dullness now associated with the schizoid in the contemporary DSM conception. Wilhelm Reich, an important psychoanalyst, described the schizoid as exhibiting “psychic contactlessness.” He wrote:
Fairbairn, a major innovator in the object-relations school of psychoanalysis, emphasized the elements of derealization and depersonalization experienced by the schizoid. He referred to such individuals as possessing schizoid “personalities,” “states,” “types,” “characters.” He said that these people view themselves as “artificial,” and experience life as through a “plate-glass.” They tend to be isolated, detached and preoccupied with their own inner reality. They tend not to give themselves over emotionally to others.
Fairbairn noted that the schizoid tends to view others as unworthy of their love or empathy. This is due, not only to a dearth of love in general, but also because they believe that their love is too dangerous to release upon others. Fairbairn believed that the schizoid personality experienced unsatisfactory emotional relationships with their parents, especially their mothers. He believed that the schizoid personality results from a tendency of the mother to not show her child that she loves him through spontaneous expressions of affection. This leaves the adult schizoid incapable of giving or receiving love. He saw them as needing to keep their libidinal objects at a distance, de-emotionalizing and de-personalizing them. Thus, like other psychoanalysts, the schizoid personality is seen as a derivative or reactive syndrome, rather than a constitutional one.
Deutsch also described schizoid types. She also located its pathogenesis in purely formal and impersonal early childhood relationships. She famously described these individuals as possessing an “as if” personality, capable of superficial social adaptation, but lacking the feeling that goes along with the movements. They can behave outwardly as if they experience such and such an emotion, and they are able to fool others in such a way, but inwardly, there is a profound absence of genuine affect. Indeed, Bleuler and Fairbairn both noted that the schizoid can seem quite normal upon first inspection, and it is only over a course of time that the absence of real warmth and presence of a great deal of emotional emptiness becomes apparent. As Deutsch says, “All the expressions of emotion are fora…all inner experience is completely excluded. It is like the performance of an actor who is technically well-trained but who lacks the necessary spark to make his impersonations true to life.” He tends to be plastic and to superficially adapt his movements and behavior to relevant social environments, but only as though playing a game of Simon says. They do not exhibit warmth, but they do not exhibit aggression either. Instead, they are totally passive.