“Maybe it would’ve been better if you didn’t tell me you cared”: Attachment-Avoidance and the Relational Encounter
Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) has been described as the most challenging of the personality disorders, with literature scarce and what studies exist suggesting individuals diagnosed with SPD respond poorly to medicalized and manualized approaches. This article reviews what recent literature exists on SPD, and introduces alternative conceptualizations of the ‘schizoid’ personality not as disorder, but as a relational interpersonal style of attachment-avoidance. A humanistic-interpersonal approach is presented that emphasizes immediacy and focusing acutely on SPD’s most trying clinical challenge: the development of counselor-client proximity and relationship. This approach is dubbed the relationship encounter. A long-term relational and instrumental case illustration bridges existing literature on SPD with practitioner scholarship on interpersonal and existential practice. Themes suggest practitioners working with SPD may have some success by focusing on the relationship, rather than the prescribed symptoms of the diagnosis.
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