Hm… Well, first of all, as you can probably guess, it’s easy to ruin schizoid character just as it is easy to ruin any character with psychology specifics that author is not personally familiar with.
But that being said, as long as you avoid following those extremely common tropes about schizoids being robot-like, incapable of emotions *at all* or just plain murderous psychopaths incapable of feeling guilt, you should be fine :) Also the “happily turning into neurotypical at the end” trope is bad, but you probably aware of it.
It’s just to keep a short tl;dr version on top, but as always I will elaborate *a bit*. ^^’
The “robot” bit. It’s common to view schizoids like that. Heck, even schizoids sometimes refer to themselves in this way. I do that sometimes too, yes. But it is one thing when you say stuff about yourself, and the other – when you find it in a book in reference to a character you probably relate to. First is your choice and your own views, and second is just yet another example of media being the disappointment it is. Can’t say it’d necessarily “hurt feelings” of many schizoids, but some would probably close your book with a sad sigh.
Emotions. Schizoids are not completely cut out of every single mood and emotion. At least most of them are not. It’s just those emotions are different, sometimes mostly inner, and sometimes they themselves are not aware of feeling anything, or it’s too shallow and too brief to notice it until it is gone. It probably won’t be as pronounced as it is for other people, but picturing schizoids by making sure it is repeated every single chapter that they don’t feel a thing isn’t likely a good idea :) The shallowness of emotions and how it is hard for them to understand other people being so emotional, on the other hand, could be somewhat of a highlight to a character.
Or, alternatively, human emotions can be sort of a fascination of this character (just don’t overdo it). Most schizoids can feel (and, more importantly, realize what it is when they feel it) interest to some specific subjects. It’s likely to be narrow and not in the same way, let’s say, autistic person would experience it. Not necessarily obsessive kind of interest, and likely not a life-long constant fascination. Or maybe this interest just flashes for a while just to disappear for years, but always returns eventually.
Apathy and lack of motivation can be another highlight, but it doesn’t have to be. Just as well as depression or some other comorbid disorders. Not every schizoid is constantly depressed, even though normal “mood” of most schizoids can be mistakenly viewed as depression from outside. Schizoid person may look grim, barely ever smiling, making it look like they’re unhappy and constantly sad, but on the inside this person could feel normal or even on the positive side of their regular mood level (no matter how narrow their mood range is).
Schizoids are very different. No, seriously, it’s not the same as to say “people are different”. It is even pointed out in psychology books sometimes :) It’s hard to find two schizoids who would relate to each other in most aspects. More likely they’ll find each other just as far off as any other human they meet. Or maybe relatable in this and that, but this? Heck no, not even close.
And the “evil schizoid” trope. Well, just to illustrate it, though I mentioned this example before in this blog, but it’s popular enough to refer to and shows the point quite well. Sherlock and Moriarty. Schizoid and antisocial disorders, correspondingly (it is debatable whether Sherlock is also autistic, but he definitely has more than 4 schizoid traits to fit the criteria). I guess I don’t really have to explain what is different between those two characters? %)
So yeah, it kinda sucks when someone views you as Moriarty when you are more of a Sherlock (minus being genius bit, among other things). And this is way too common for schizoids to get to know character, begin to relate to them, just to find out that author thought to make them a villain from the start. Sometimes it looks convincing enough for schizoid viewer to start to doubt themselves, like “maybe I am bad, after all? this character was so much like me, so maybe this is my future”.
And no, there’s nothing wrong with making characters in so called “gray morality” territory or making them just bad guys who are opposed to the hero. Just make sure if it’s schizoid bad person, they are not psychos with no motive other than having fun by jumping on dead corpses of stolen infants, not taking blood baths every evening and are not remorseless psychos never feeling guilt over what they do. There must be some reason for any action, no matter how morally-questionable it is.
But yes, some schizoids are indeed capable of doing things that won’t always fit into common morality standards. They can fit into “doing what it takes” trope in some cases. E.g. after weighing all possibilities, they might come to a conclusion it is acceptable to sacrificing a whole planet full of people to stop a war that would last for centuries, taking away dozens planets more, therefore eventually saving billions of lives. And yes, I’m talking about one specific schizoid character, one of my favorites even, but won’t tell which one and where is it from to avoid spoilers (but can tell in PM if anyone wants to know).
Oh, and the “curing” trope. Don’t try to make it look like being schizoid is just a starting point in your character’s development. It’s not. One of the worst things that can happen to a schizoid character - is suddenly ending up “unfrozen” but teh Power of Love or something (oh, by the way, I’ll link you something i wrote a while ago on this subject in private later). They were schizoid all their life, probably to a lesser extent in childhood, manifesting around early adulthood. This manifestation could be triggered by some trauma, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be just the way this person grows up in the society where they are alienated, not taken as equal, avoided or patronized, scared of, laughed at or ignored, even openly attacked or beaten. Or maybe none of it to a great extent. They might just not find enough in common with all those people just for no other reason than being different. There doesn’t have to be a reason to be schizoid just as there is no reason for being autistic or e.g. having blond hair.
The “loneliness”. Schizoids are not immune to feeling lonely. But if loneliness is very pronounced whenever they are alone, it’d look more like social anxiety disorder or just introversion. Schizoids tend to crave for solitude at least sometimes. Some just need it as air and not sometimes, but most of their time. If they have no choice but to deal with people every day for x hours, it’d drive them insane or will end up in severe depression at very least. But don’t confuse social anxiety with schizoid personality, because while latter can look like they’re just shy and afraid of interaction, most schizoids (unless they also have anxiety) are ok-ish to interact with people when needed. It’s just having to do so regularly and out of their own control on how much, how often and in which way - that’s what exhausting about communication.
Schizoids might have friends, people who are important for them. They are capable of caring for family. Just not necessarily in the same way other people do so. What’s important, though, is that if schizoid for some reason doesn’t have people they care about, it’s unlikely that loaning to find such person would be their driving force to find new contacts. They aren’t more likely to get intimate (mostly in emotional sence) with someone just because they’re alone at the moment. It can be a good example of “happily single”.
Oh, and about asexuality. It is true that asexuality is rather common among schizoids, but allosexual schizoids are just as common. Some are explicitly sexually active and are prone to all kinds of non-standard sexual behaviors. It’s just that they’re unlikely to be romantically involved with their partners, at least not for long and not in this “emotional intimacy” way with limerence, holding hands and being sweet couple stuff. It’s still probably happens for some schizoids, though, so I’m not saying it should be out of question for your character.
Also probably worth to mention the “magical thinking” and “odd beliefs” bit of schizotypal disorder. Some schizoids have it, others don’t. Your character can be on either side here, it shouldn’t be too confusing. But just keep in mind that it’s different disorders and they don’t have to come in packs. If you aim to make your character unambiguously schizoid, it’s probably a good idea to not make them believe in stuff like telepathy or magic (unless that stuff is a well-known fact in your setting).
The “rich imaginary world” is often mentioned in schizoids. Though having lackluster fantasy and no understanding of art is also mentioned sometimes. And yes, some schizoids don’t see it mutually exclusive and can have well-developed fantasy world while not really being in touch with any other kind of fantasies and not caring at all about fiction and art.
Aaaan I can’t think of anything else by now. ^^ If I missed something of particular interest to you, just let me know
and I might end up writing second wall of text about schizoid characters. There’s probably plenty important stuff I forgot (tbh I just don’t remember what’s up there in this wall of text and I’m not planning to re-read it before posting).
My followers probably can add something to this, though. Also if someone has a few good and even bad examples of schizoid characters, even I myself would like to hear it :)
Anyway, good luck with your writing ^^ It’s so rare someone writes about schizoids in positive way. And if something, I’m always up to read more fiction with schizoid characters :)