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This presentation is intended as an introduction to the diagnosis and treatment of what are commonly called Schizoid Personality Disorders. From a Gestalt therapy point of view, “Schizoid Personality Disorder” can be reconceptualized as a series of creative adjustments to an early traumatic childhood situation that created the deep-seated belief that true intimacy with other people is inherently unsafe.
Individuals who have made Schizoid adaptations can be difficult to recognize because they believe that it is dangerous to show other people their true Self. They fear that doing so will allow others to enslave them, appropriate what is theirs, or use them as tools. They use distancing defenses, fantasy, and dissociation to deal with their interpersonal fears and their porous interpersonal boundaries.
Because these clients rarely cause other people difficulties, their suffering often goes unnoticed and unaddressed. Because their basic defense pattern involves hiding whatever is truly meaningful to them, most therapists are ill-prepared to recognize that their client has Schizoid issues and needs a modification of their usual therapeutic approach.
In this presentation I will use my concept of the Interpersonal Gestalt to help participants understand what is figural for these clients during interpersonal relationship and how to recognize this in session. There will be experiential exercises that allow us to experiment with “Thinking Schizoid.” We will also look at subtle ways that Gestalt therapists can modify their usual way of working so as to be more effective with clients who have profound Schizoid issues.
Elinor Greenberg, PhD, is a psychologist and Gestalt therapy trainer who specializes in teaching the diagnosis and treatment of Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid adaptations. She is on the faculty of the New York Institute for Gestalt Therapy and the Gestalt Center for Psychotherapy and Training. Elinor is an Associate Editor of Gestalt Review. She is a former faculty member of The Masterson Institute, a post-graduate training institute for Personality Disorders. Dr. Greenberg writes an online blog for Psychology Today called “Understanding Narcissism” and is the author of the book: Borderline, Narcissistic, and Schizoid Adaptations: The Search for Love, Admiration, and Safety.