During my teenage years I met the World Health Organization’s criteria for “schizoid personality disorder”. At the time, I did not consider the possibility that there might be anything wrong with me. Instead, I believed that my isolation was a result of a lack of social understanding.
So at age eighteen, when I left my harmful family environment to go to college, I set out to remedy this lack of social skills. I broke off communication with every one of my high school associates and set out to meet lots of new people and involve myself in many social activities. Meanwhile, I learned everything I could about human behavior. I researched history, economics and art; biology, anthropology and evolution. I learned the principles of marketing and tried them out in real life. I visited websites and combed one-by-one through what amounts to perhaps a thousand individual psychological research summaries. Then I examined the mathematics of information theory and machine learning to put this all together.
By the end of this project I had developed solid social skills, created an interesting circle of friends and no longer met the criteria for “schizoid personality disorder”. This is without any psychiatry, medication, or even the knowledge that I was “suffering” from something that many consider a “disorder”. Meanwhile, the two of my high school friends who sought psychiatric help in combating depression show little sign of improvement.
I hope my story helps demonstrate that “mental disorders” are not necessarily the result of “chemical imbalances”. My “disorder” could accurately be described as a lack of social skills remedied by proper training in a safe environment, not much unlike an inability to speak French. Hence, I agree that “[t]he so-called schizoid personality disorder is one of the more blatant examples of the APA’s pathologizing of normal human differences.”