Those who suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder experience
enduring feelings of inadequacy and are especially sensitive to others’ opinions of them. These feelings of inadequacy lead to social inhibition and insecurity. Due to these feelings, someone with Avoidant Personality Disorder will avoid social environments and social interaction. Others often describe individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder as timid, shy, isolated, or lonely.
Social functioning is the primary problem associated with this disorder. Insecurity, low self-esteem, and sensitivity to rejection result in restricted interpersonal contacts. Most who have this disorder are generally quite isolated – however, they crave acceptance and affection. Avoidance of social interaction and impairment in social environments decreases functioning in everyday social situations that require communication. The disorder commonly develops during early adulthood, but the most extreme symptoms may manifest in later adulthood (40s, 50s.)
Common symptoms of the disorder include:
- Fear of rejection and disapproval which leads to avoidance of
- Reluctance to be involved with others unless social acceptance is guaranteed.
- Restraint with intimate relationships.
- Constant worry of being rejected or criticized in social situations.
- View of self as being inferior and inadequate .
Avoidant personality disorder is diagnosed by a mental health professional who compares an individual’s symptoms with the symptoms stated above. The disorder is commonly treated by psychotherapy and sometimes medications. Psychotherapy can sometimes be a challenge for individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder because they usually have poor self-esteem and may even feel intimidated by talking with the therapist. They often fail to look at social interactions in an objective manner and see only the negative. This can cause obstacles in therapy as it can interfere with their self-report, in the form of missing out important life history and medical information because they believe they are not important enough to talk about – thereby minimizing the self and reinforcing the belief in unworthiness. With this said, it is important for the therapist to conduct a deeper, more detailed evaluation so that all the relevant information is revealed. This involves being sensitive to verbal and nonverbal cues during the session, and to notice when information is being withheld.
Bressert, Steve. “Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms.” Psych Central. PsychCentral, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.