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Mental Disorders

Ask Dr. DombeckAsk Dr. Dombeck:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

Schizoid(?) Friend

Thu, Nov 30th 2000

I have a "friend", I guess you could say, except this person doesn't really want friends. He apparently has no need to bond or connect with anyone. He is content to be left alone 24/7, and even though he is very bright and CAN be talkative if the conversation interests him, he will also seclude himself for weeks. He says that people are "inconsequential to his reality" and that emotions are "lies" and that he doesn't really have emotions, that he was born without them. He speaks in a monotone most of the time, and recites long passages from books and movies as if it were the most natural thing in the world, right out of the blue. His knowledge is apparently endless, but he doesn't seem to even realize that he is "substantially educated". I have seen this man put on complete shows for people- he will, around people of influence, display appropriate emotions- and seconds after they have left, become emotionless again. He isn't doing this for my benefit either. He used to be the same way around me, but gradually let his true personality (or lack thereof) show through. I have reasons to believe that his childhood was less than perfect, and now I am at a crossways. How should I proceed? This guy is very secretive, and I'm afraid that if I try to get him to open up, he'll never talk to me again. I'm worried about him, because he spends so much time alone and has been "fascinated" (his word) with death ever since I've known him (5 years). And even though I've known him 5 years, he still has the aura of a stranger. He never volunteers information about himself, never seems excited or disappointed, and others' assessment of his work (either good or bad) doesn't seem to effect him. If I believed in such things, I'd swear he was an alien, or something. He'll go days (more than 4) without sleep, but doesn't get tired (not obviously anyway). He isn't manic either. I rarely see him eat. My question is: is this normal behavior? I feel silly for asking, because he appears to be functioning... perfectly. But I also get the sense that he is like, leading a double life or something. How is it possible to never register emotion, rarely sleep or eat, obsess about death all the time... and still not get depressed? Don't people (even the most extreme introverts) have a natural desire to be with humans *sometimes*, to have some sort of physical contact, to express themselves? I'm very confused, and a little concerned. Are my concerns warranted? How would you proceed? I'm probably one of the only people in the world that sees him 'regularly', and most people think he's doing fine.

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