Is the word "schizoid" offensive?

I was having an online correspondence with someone and I used the word “schizoid” in reference to people with mental disorders. Now, I am aware that that’s not a formal way of referring to such persons, but I thought that as a lay catch-all term it was relatively neutral. Does anyone familiar with mental illness (whether personally, through relatives, etc.) have the word on this?

(Obviously, the reason I am asking is that the person found it very offensive.)

What kind of mental illness were you referring to?

People with Schizoid Personality Disorder usually have a pretty specific set of symptoms, it’s possible if you were referring to all mental illness under this terminology that someone might have construed that as some sort of judgment against all people with mental illness.

I’ve never heard of that term being offensive. According to google defs it means ‘‘of or relating to schizophrenia.’’ So it refers specifically to people with a particular kind of psychosis.

(FTR, I do have a family member with schizophrenia, and it ain’t pretty. But one way we deal with it as a family is by being quite politically incorrect about mental illness. He’s batshit insane and we all know it, no use beating around the bush.)

Schizophrenia runs in my family as well so I am immune to someone saying “he’s such a schizoid” but usually they actually mean “pertaining to schizophrenia.” As in: “Marvin is calling me every night at 3 am to invite me to a tea party at his house (3 states away). He’s being a real schizoid.” Or “I know you are new to the family so don’t let Jon-Jon hang out with your young daughter. He seems harmless but if that thorazine wears off before the family reunion ends he’s going to be a real spaz monkey.”

You probably used the word a lot like I would use the word spaz or nutjob. It wouldn’t offend me, but I also would not use them around others until I was able to judge their level of acceptance for words like that. Your best course of action is going to just apologize and watch your words around that friend again.

One of those things that some people get offended and some don’t. Sorry if this wasn’t more help.

I don’t see anything wrong with the term in itself, then again I tend to use the term in it’s proper usage: ie: for Schizoid disorders vs. schizotypal vs. Schizophrenic. And of those, schizoids are the quiet loners who tend to be the least intrusive of the three…

If you did call everyone a schizo, well that’s just wrong and it grates on my brain- like saying all disabled people are crippled. It’s a generalization that really doesn’t work too well. So it’s not offensive per se, it’s just… uninformed.
Though if someone used the word around me improperly, i wouldn’t find offense at it, but I’d try to clarify it or correct them on their usage. I’m not sure though how I’d feel if I had a mental disorder though and was called a different one. I know as a nearly deaf person if someone called me dumb or a retard, I’d feel a need to correct them, as neither of those terms really quite apply to me, though I could see where they’re coming from. I’d feel the need to have to want to point out though I could have been retarded, I was not held back in my classes or socially, and I’m quite high functioning for a legally deaf person.

So I’d be irked, but not infuriated with them. It’d be more of a need to correct them on the proper usage of the terms rather than to deal with it as an insult. Of course if I found out they were simply just using the term retard as an insult or some such, and not trying to attempt to use it properly, well then I’d just think less of them but I would not pay it much mind- it’d just be something I’d keep in mind when dealing with that person.

I saw a review for The Two Towers that referred to Gollum as “schizoid.” Grr. First, schizoid != schizophrenic. Second, schizophrenic != dissociative identity disorder aka multiple personalities.

It’s not offensive per se but it is inaccurate. Schizoids are people who are loners and completely uninterested in interacting with others. They aren’t psychotic as a rule.

Ok, but according to

Schizoid has come into informal usage to mean relating to schizophrenia or multiple personality. So even though schizophrenia is not the same as schizoid personality disorder, apparently we can use schizoid to refer to both.

However, we can’t use schizoid to refer to people with other mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, etc.

I think in order to answer this question we have to know exactly what was said in the context in which it was said. OP?

I find it objectionable only when it’s used as a synonym for conflicted, confused, indecisive. I can understand when people get it mixed up with multiple personality disorder, but dammit, forgetting where you put your car keys or having a mood swing is not “schizo”. But I consider it more a crime against use of the language than against schizophrenics. Those folks need understanding and compassion more than they need their labels to be on straight.

It’s fitting in the 21st century, man.

As SPD is a personality disorder, neurosurgeons don’t help, no matter how much they scream for more.

Well schioid and schizotypal disorders are sort of on a continuum towards schizophrenia. So it makes sense to say that schizophrenics exhibit schizophrenia, as I believe the first two are Axis II disorders, but Schizophrenia is an Axis I disorder, and I believe if it is present then it rules out the diagnosis of the two types of Axis II disorders (as a Schizophrenic with a co-morbidity of Schizotypal personality disorder is just redundant and foolish- Similar to saying, hey that guy with Major Depressive Disorder also currently has dysthymia [Mild Chronic depression]. You can certainly mark that they had a history of said problem and then it may have worsened into the major underlying problem, but to use them both together is rather silly and redundant- pretty much going against the DSM’s ideas of parsimony and hierarchy.

So a Schizophrenic most certainly could exhibit Schizoid symptoms as well as Schizotypal symptoms, which makes sense as to why the terms would be associated then with both disorders. However, the Multiple Personality Disorder is a separate Axis II disorder that though can be co-morbid with depression, it is quite inaccurate and has gotten smeared with the association of schizophrenia. The two disorders are not related nor the same, one is an Axis one problem, the other Axis II- and pretty much in the spirit of fighting ignorance, this should be corrected. Just because the terms are used colloquially to mean the same thing should not mean it is the right thing to do- all it does is foster further ignorance on the matter.

So to summarize: Schizoid- okay for Schizophrenia and related schizoid disorders (NOT for Multiple personalities though!), and inaccurate for schizotypal, but fine, the association can be present. But it’s quite wrong for most other disorders, and I’m pro-correcting the ignorance of others on the subject.

As Antisocial personality Disorder is not the same as Avoidant Personality Disorder is not the same as Schizoid Personality Disorders, yet people commonly mix up the 3 and get them wrongly attributed to each other. Just a pet peeve of mine.

Thanks for the tip-in.


You just hit their magic button. We all have them. Remember this for later when needed and avoid it for regular talk.

Well I think the answer is yes and no.

Didn’t King Crimson have an album called that? I saw them in the 80’s and really enjoyed the show.

I’ve never heard of schitzoid being used offensively, but I definitely have schizo. I’ve heard it as a general purpose insult for someone who is mentally ill. I’ve also heard it used to say that someone who isn’t mentally ill actually is. Something like

“Dude, what’s up with your girlfriend?”
“I don’t know, Man. She’s fucking schitzo.”
“Mine’s like that. She can’t ever decide if she likes me or not.”
“No, I mean she hears voices and thinks God is talking to her.”
“And she ain’t on nothing? That’s fucked up.”

I hope you get the idea.

almost everything is offensive if you say it to the wrong/right person. Even the previous statement.

That’s a very Sig worthy insight right there, PH.

do eeet!