Is the INTJ personality type linked to schizoid personality disorder (SPD), schizophrenia, schizotypal, or sociopathy? Several people have requested a video on this topic, so let’s get to it.
Much like Asperger’s syndrome or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), there are some traits of schizoid that can mimic the INTJ personality type (on the surface, at least). According the World Health Organization’s ICD-D publication, schizoid personality disorder is characterized by at least four of the following criteria, which I will compare with the INTJ personality type:
INTJ and Schizoid Personality Disorder Comparison
1. Emotional coldness, detachment or reduced affect. INTJs often come off as cold to others, but that’s mostly because our feeling function is introverted (Fi). When your feeling function is introverted, you tend to conceal your emotional responses, even though you do feel things deeply. So, I don’t believe this schizoid trait characterizes most INTJs. However, Fi is also our tertiary (3rd) function, so it may take time to develop. In younger aged INTJs, they may struggle with emotions.
2. Limited capacity to express either positive or negative emotions towards others. I don’t think this characterizes most INTJs at all. INTJs can express positive and negative emotions, but again, our weaker Fi usually causes us to do this only with close friends or loved ones. So, we may only do it with one or two people, and that’s it. That’s probably why we have this stereotype of being cold and emotionless.
3. Consistent preference for solitary activities, says the extrovert who wrote this criterion down! In my opinion, this is another example of extrovert bias that appears in most of these “personality disorders.” Why is it that some extroverts never understand introverts? Some of the greatest scientific discoveries came about because introverts like Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Nikola Tesla sought solitude while hyper-focusing on some complex problem or theory. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to cut yourself off from all human contact for an extended period—that can definitely lead to mental issues (please don’t do this!). However, there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert or seeking solitude.
4. Very few, if any, close friends or relationships, and a lack of desire for such. I think most INTJs do crave at least some close relationships. It’s very important to me, for example, to have a deep relationship with my wife and son. They mean everything to me. However, INTJs are always performing a cost-benefit analysis of everything they do. For example, I know that friendships require commitment and a reasonable amount of cultivation to make them work. I simply don’t have time for it after considering my wife, son, family, career, etc.
5. Indifference to either praise or criticism. I enjoy praise and can become annoyed by ignorant, baseless, or illogical criticism. Most INTJs are sensitive to criticism, in my experience. They also appreciate praise. We are perfectionists though, so I think most INTJs appreciate praise, but we still know what we could have done better.
6. Little interest in having sexual experiences with another person (taking age into account). I do think that INTJs desire physical intimacy. Female INTJs can struggle with touch or physical intimacy in their relationships, especially if they haven’t connected on an intellectual or emotional level with their mate. INTJs have a tendency to become too focused on plans and tasks, so intimacy is sometimes minimized. However, most INTJs are very interested in physical intimacy, and many of us have the children to prove it!
7. Taking pleasure in few, if any, activities. INTJs often become very involved in their hobbies such as video games, movies, etc. and enjoy those hobbies.
8. Indifference to social norms and conventions. INTJs will honor social norms and conventions when they make logical sense. However, when they don’t, we’ll scrap them. We like things to make sense, and we always ask these questions: “Why do we observe this particular convention? Does it make sense? Is it more efficient to scrap it?”
9. Preoccupation with fantasy and introspection. Fantasy and introspection is a common trait of just about any introverted intuitive. Our introspection has to do with our introverted nature. In Jungian theory, energy flows inward for INTJs (or any introvert), where we dissect and analyze everything using our introverted intuition in an attempt to seek patterns and ask, “Does this work? Is there an underlying pattern in this information? is this information useful? Is there a better way?”
By the way, it is a requirement of ICD-10 that a diagnosis of any specific personality disorder also satisfies a set of general personality disorder criteria, in addition to the minimum of four of the criteria above.
After comparing the two, it’s pretty clear that the INTJ personality type is distinct from schizoid personality disorder, as well as schizophrenia, schizotypal, or sociopathy. An INTJ could be diagnosed as with schizoid personality disorder, and a few INTJs have mentioned that in the comments, but any other MBTI type could be diagnosed with it, too. You do not automatically have a personality disorder or mental health problem if you are an INTJ. It is just a personality type!
Interestingly, if you do have schizoid personality disorder, you don’t always need treatment, although therapy or medication is an option for serious cases. In my opinion, I would seek help if you have such a problem that it interferes with your daily life. For example, if you have extreme loneliness, can’t make friends, or struggle with physical intimacy with your spouse, then you could always work on those areas or seek help.
There is no shame in seeking help when you need it. We all stumble and fall, and we need help to get back on our feet. Would anyone blame a man with a severe lung infection if he went to the doctor to get help? Of course not! We’d think he was crazy if he didn’t seek treatment. In the same way, there is no shame in seeking help if you find yourself struggling with a mental disorder or severe form of personality disorder.
However, I would also point out two interesting facts about this schizoid personality disorder:
- Some clinicians have called for the removal of SPD from future editions of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual). This is also true of other disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder. So, it’s possible that this will no longer be considered a disorder in the future.
- Asperger’s syndrome used to be considered a sub type of autism, but has now been merged into one spectrum. In that same way, schizoid is actually considered to be a part of the schizophrenia spectrum. Some INTJs have commented about being diagnosed with schizophrenia, too. In fact, some people think that the famous math genius, John Nash, was an INTJ. He, too, suffered from schizophrenia. (They made a movie about him featuring Russel Crow, titled, A Beautiful Mind).
Now, I will say that I don’t think that INTJs are necessarily more prone to schizophrenia. Any of the sixteen personality types within MBTI’s theory could develop a mental disorder.
I did find an interesting excerpt from a thesis dissertation online, which included a summary of a study concerning MBTI and schizophrenia:
“The MBTI was administered twice to 91 schizophrenic subjects and 91 control subjects. The first administration utilized the standard instructional set while the second administration utilized an ideal-self instructional set. Results indicated that the modal type for the schizophrenic subjects was ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) while the modal type for the control subjects was the exact opposite, ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving).”
Source: Reynolds, Robert Francis. “Jungian Typology and Schizophrenia.” Georgia State University, 1992.
INTJ and Schizoid Personality Disorder
In conclusion, I do not think that INTJs have a natural personality disorder. The INTJ type is distinct from schizoid personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, and others. However, any INTJ (or other MBTI type) could suffer from any of those disorders, and many do. You can always seek help to ensure that you’re the most efficient and healthy INTJ that you can be.