Avoidant Personality Disorder - What It Is
Social Anxiety Shyness Info
Personality Disorder: A Defense Against the Social Anxiety Attacks
In Avoidant Personality Disorder, the person
maintains a systematic avoidance of social contacts and any
situation which might
result in embarrassment or anxiety.
Even with people who are close, he or she avoids a more intimate
The permanent expectations of being ridiculed,
rejected puts the person constantly at the borderline of suffering anxiety attacks. Then he develops a permanent scheme of self-protection against anxiety.
Some signs and symptoms are
found in these people. Sometimes the symptoms predominate and
the disorder goes unnoticed by the majority of people with whom
the bearer has contact (because symptoms are subjectives).
– They tend to live alone
– Contact with family and friends can be enjoyable, but
only for a short period of time (minute or hours) and anxiety
can be aroused at any moment.
– They avoid contact with strangers. They are extremely
kind when such contact occurs and they do everything possible
to make sure that such contact is brief.
– They develop at least one phobia (for animals or objects)
whose origin is connected with the earlier appearance of anxiety
attacks in social situations. The animal or object connected
with such situations unleashes the anxiety and this assumes
– They are aware that they have abdicated certain experiences
in life in order to avoid suffering.
– They often fantasize about the situations they avoid
and yet would like to experience – in their fantasies
they exclude the anxiety-provoking stimuli.
– They can be professionally successful, but they could
be even more successful if they did not turn their backs on
What is the difference between Avoidant Personality Disorder,
Shyness, Social Anxiety, Generalized Social Phobia and Introverted
Shyness – As I see it, the
difference is that in Shyness the person still tries to face
situations which generate fear, even if only to show others
what she is capable of getting. The situation may be uncomfortable
yet the person tries to convey the message to those around him
that he is liking or enjoying it. The desire to integrate
oneself is so intense that the anxiety takes a back seat.
Above all, the person has to show that she can get the
same things other people can and enjoy them as much as they
Social Anxiety – In Social
Anxiety, the person avoids social contacts and performance,
mainly those that unleash extreme anxiety like panic attacks, but he wants to have such contacts and preserves the potentialities of affective involvement and feels comfortable with people who are close.
Generalized Social Phobia –
In Generalized Social Phobia, a.k.a. Generalized
Social Anxiety, the person suffers anxiety attacks
due to exposure to many social situations. There is avoidance,
to protect oneself, but the person wants to live like the
others and have the same opportunities.
Avoidant Personality Disorder – In Avoidant Personality Disorder, besides the behaviors
and attitudes described, we can see that the person has given
up altogether on facing situations that generate fear and
does not undergo anxiety attacks simply because she avoids
any anxiety-generating situation that is possible. Additionally,
she does everything possible not to be noticed.
Introverted Personality - Avoidance
Personality Disorder has external similarities to the Introverted
Personality. Nevertheless, within people there are differences.
The main one is that the person with introverted personality does not feel anxiety when it is necessary to
maintain social contact.
In my clinical observation, Avoidant Personality
Disorder is preceded by anxiety attacks and even some panic
attacks, which become occasional atacks or even stop due
to the avoidance mechanisms that are developed.
The indicated treatment is psychotherapy.
However, difficulties often arise, such as:
* lack of motivation to change, so that the person will usually not
* involvement is very slow in coming, because the self-protection
mechanisms are well structured;
* resistance to proposals to practice acts that may speed up
* the person easily gives up the treatment.
Among those cases, which may go around in psychotherapeutic
circles for years and years or go from one therapist to another
without any progress, are those of avoidance personality
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