Schizothymia: definition, causes, symptoms, treatment and controversy

Throughout the history of psychology, there have been attempts to decipher the minds and thoughts of people by all kinds of methods. Certain currents of psychological research have created a series of psychiatric classifications or typologies taking as a reference the physical characteristics or attributes shared by a certain number of people.

One of these typologies is little-known schizothymia. Throughout this article, we will talk about the meaning of this term, where it comes from, and what weaknesses it presents when defining a person’s temperament.

What is schizophrenia?

Schizothymia or schizothymic personality is a term, currently obsolete, which was used to refer to people of a distant and distant nature., Which do not present any type of psychotic pathology. These people usually live in solitude and with full attention to their inner world. They are also people with a tendency or predisposition to manifest symptoms related to autism.

At the intellectual level, the schizothymic personality is linked to originality, idealism and the tendency to abstract analysis and sometimes to obsessive organization.

This personality type was described by E. Kretschmer in his classification of psychiatric typologies according to physical appearance and temperament. And that would constitute a non-pathological version of schizophrenia in which only negative symptomatology is presented.

This tendency towards introversion and isolation, typical of schizothymia, differs from cyclothymia in that the person experiences a series of fluctuations in them which lead them from this state of introversion or depression to a state of extreme enthusiasm or euphoria.

Schizothymia is characterized by the depth and intensity with which a person has their most intimate experiences, which are followed by long periods of subjective reflection and internalization.

Just as the person is not interested in the external reality around him, he also has great deficits in social skills.This is a problem when initiating or maintaining any type of interpersonal relationship.

Another peculiarity of people with schizothymia is that they express their anger or aggression in a very cold and distant way. As a rule, the schizothymic will tend to accumulate his small outbursts of anger or disappointments, only discharging on very rare and rare occasions.

This isolation from reality and the need to focus on one’s inner world are conditioning factors when the person comes to suffer from some kind of psychosis, as it will certainly manifest in the form of schizophrenia.

Therefore, and according to the psychological characteristics described above, schizothymia would constitute a non-pathological version of schizophrenia in which the manifestation of negative symptomatology predominates.

Origin and course of schizothymia

As discussed in the previous point, Kretschmer is the one who coined the term schizothymia in his classification of psychiatric pathologies. This classification is based on the idea that there are four types or models of psychiatric personality which depend on the physical appearance of the person, keeping an intrinsic and direct relationship between the body structure and the personality of the subjects.

After observing, examining and measuring a large number of subjects, Kretschmer performed a classification of temperament based on the body and morphological structure of people. From this study, he extracted 3 basic archetypes of temperament.

They were asthenics or leptosomatics to which the schizothymic temperament corresponds, picnics with a cyclothymic temperament and sportsmen with a viscous or ixothymic temperament.. In addition, he created a fourth category called “dysplasia” in which would be included all people who could not be classified in the previous three.

For a better understanding of this classification, the four categories created by Kretschmer are described below.

1. Leptosomal or schizothymic

The morphology of the leptosomal or schizothymic person is characterized by a long and thin constitution.. With the shoulders and back contracted, the skeleton thin and the trunk long and narrow. They are also distinguished by a face of pale skin, a generous nose and an angular profile.

As long as the temperament matches the schizothymic temperament. Which, as described above, is distinguished by its unsociable, shy, introspective and reflective, pessimistic and irascible character, but also tenacious, dreamy, idealistic and analytical.

2. Picnic or cyclothymic

According to the German psychiatrist, people on picnics or cyclothymics are distinguished by a broad physical appearance and short arms and legs., As well as a normal height and a rounded silhouette. In addition, they are susceptible to obesity and have a soft body in which fat is abundant.

A picnic-type person has a cyclothymic temperament. People of this temperament differ in their kindness, benevolence, affection and good humor. But with sudden outbursts of anger, explosives and intermittent cholera. However, they can also be sociable, conversational, practical and realistic.

3. Athletic or slimy

The person of athletic build and slimy temperament exhibits such physical characteristics as a broad back and shoulders which narrow as they approach the waist, broad and coarse limbs, strong bones and rough skin.

This type of body constitution is associated with a slimy temperament, which manifests itself in passive and emotionally stable behaviors., Calm, indifferent, unimaginative and confident in his vigor.


Finally, this last categorization includes people whose development is insufficient or disproportionate, with some type of physical abnormality or who cannot be classified in any of the above subtypes.

As a result of this classification, and because of the criticism it received over time, WH Sheldon, a professor at Harvard University, created another parallel classification. This classification was also made according to the physique of the person. However, in addition to the physical complexion, Sheldon also took into account other factors such as viscerotonia or cerebrotonia.

According to Sheldon, people who manifest the schizothymic temperament proposed by Kerscher correspond to the “ectomorphic” subtype created by himself. A person with ectomorphic physical characteristics is distinguished by an emaciated dermis, poor musculature, and weak bones. As well as long and thin limbs.

Criticisms outside schizothymia

As the term schizothymic is discussed at the beginning of the article, Like the rest of the classification of temperaments it has not been delivered from criticism of the scientific community, reason why it has not enjoyed a long life, and being replaced by a meaning with much more support: dysthymia.

Dysthymia and dysthymic disorder are characterized by depressed mood. It is considered a chronic disorder whereby the person is overwhelmed by a series of melancholic feelings but fails to constitute depression on its own.

  • Among the reasons why the term schizothymic has failed to fit into current psychiatric classifications are:
  • It’s a very reductive label. You can’t determine a person’s personality or temperament just by looking at their physical complexion.
  • Kretschmer describes only extreme types, regardless of the intermediate points
  • It does not take into account the physical changes that the person may undergo throughout their life

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