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Everything You Need to Know About Avoidant Personality Disorder

A Neglected but Toxic Disorder

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“There is a shell around her”, this sentence is a metaphorical way of saying that ‘she’ suffers from AVPD. Now, what is AVPD? Well, in this article, we are going to learn what is AVPD and how does it influence the normal lifestyle.

AVPD or Avoidant Personality Disorder is a disorder in which the victim suffers from social discomfort to the point he or she avoids contact of any sort. There is a certain sort of restriction in the patient’s life to have some physical security. They wouldn’t mind bungee jumping, but they will mind doing it in front of a crowd.

It can be defined as “a pervasive feeling of social inhibition and inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation.”

Bird sitting on grass, tree, near river

They differ from patients suffering from antisocial behaviour. Anti Socialist consensually choose not to mingle around with people while in AVPD, patients nonconsensual choose not to get too involved with people. Antisocial behaviours involve excessive confidence, while AVPD is defined by extreme lack of self of confidence.

It is a lifetime Cluster C Personality Disorder, not cured but decreased to a certain level by treatment.

Cluster C represents anxious disorders, which include AVPD as well as Dependent Personality Disorder and Obsessive and Compulsive Personality Disorder.

It is better not to self-diagnose yourself based on whatever you read on the internet. It is suggested that if you doubt yourself to be suffering from AVPD, you go and get a medical diagnosis. Look at this article as an informative guide rather than some diagnosis.

Self-diagnosis is dangerous because in case you suffer from SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder), you may not diagnose it as such because you think yourself to be suffering from Avoidance Personality Disorder. You might be suffering from a temporary feeling of sadism, but end up diagnosing yourself as a sadist.

A new term Cyberchondria has been popular. Synonym includes ‘compucondria’ referring to an unnecessary increase in concerns based on online research.

According to many, AVPD is just another form of Social Anxiety Disorder. They both have similar symptoms, causation, experience, treatment and personality features. But AVPD is a severe form of Social Anxiety Disorder.

Difficult to notice at first since people suffering from AVPD show no difference in social skill and do not lack confidence, to the point they can deliver an extemporary without preparation. Despite which, they are seen to have social phobia, inferiority complex, depression, aggressive and functionally impaired than general patients of social anxiety disorder.

Whereas the latter refers to the phobia of certain events, AVPD refers to an aversion to close relationships.

girl in depression, loneliness, alone girlSymptoms:

  1. Hurt by criticism or disapproval.
  2. Lack of close friends.
  3. Reluctant to become involved with people or restraining involvement in relationships.
  4. Avoid any social gathering which involves other people.
  5. Shyness and anxiety despite the desire for close relationships.
  6. They are exaggerating difficulties or embarrassing situations. They remember an infant situation of being embarrassed right down to their teens.
  7. You are feeling inferior and unappealing to others.
  8. Unwilling of risks or new experience because it might get embarrassing.
  9. Self-loathing, autophobia and even self-harm.
  10. Imagine themselves as having an idealised relationship. Execute escapism.
  11. Hypersensitivity to rejection and criticism.
  12. Self-imposed isolation from society.
  13. Self-doubt and mistrust of others.
  14. Emotionally distant in intimate relationships.
  15. Fear of abandonment.
  16. Dependence on drugs or alcohol.
  17. Agoraphobia (think of their surroundings to be unsafe).
  18. Don’t like being alone yet often is alone.
  19. Weak self-perception despite what others say.

According to WHO (World Health Organization)’s ICD-10, the symptoms include:

  1. Persistent feeling of tension
  2. Low self-confidence and self-esteem
  3. Excessive preoccupation with being criticised or rejection
  4. Unwilling to get involved
  5. Restricted lifestyle
  6. Avoidance of social activities.

It is a requirement of ICD-10 where all personality disorder must satisfy General Personality Disorder Criteria. The specific personality disorders are: paranoid, schizoid, dissocial emotionally unstable (Borderline as well as Impulsive type), Histrionic, Anankastic, Anxious/ Avoidant and finally, dependent.

sad teddy, teddy near bech

Besides the above mentioned, there are, Eccentric, haltlose, immature, narcissistic, psychoneurotic (in general terms, Passive-Aggressive), Character neurosis, pathological personality, Mixed Personality Disorders (conditions which are troublesome, but don’t demonstrate any particular pattern of symptoms) and Enduring Personality Changes (arises in adults after some catastrophe, stress or a psychiatric illness).

Causes of AVPD:

Often found in children suffering from Oedipus or Elektra complex (Father and Mother complex) or inpatient who has been brought up suffering rejection from parents or peers. The cause might be social, genetic or psychological. No particular reason has been found, but childhood emotional neglect, as well as peer rejection, put the kid to grave risk.

Types of AVPD:

Theodore Milon notes subtypes of AVPD which are categorised as follows:

  1. Phobic Avoidant which includes dependent features which have the person is showing apprehensiveness.
  2. Conflicted avoidant which includes negativistic features where the patient has unresolved angst.
  3. Hypersensitivity includes paranoia where the person is always on edge.
  4. Self-deserting avoidant has depression where the patient deletes any image of painful memories.

Alden and Capreol proposed two other types: Cold avoidant and Exploitable avoidant.

Cold Avoidant is characterised by features which prevent the patient from showing positive emotions. Exploitable avoidant is characterised by an inability to show negative emotions to others. This puts them at risk of being abused by others. Another term for the latter might be ‘wallflower’.

Treatment of AVPD

Treatment involves social skill training, psychotherapy, cognitive therapy, group therapy, as well as drug therapy. All of it involves a gradual increase in social contact, getting the trust of the patient as well as keeping it. Primarily, the treatment involves the patient challenging their beliefs.

What is it like to live with such a disorder?

  1. You want to be able to leave the comfort zone, but because of anxiety, you don’t.
  2. You badly want to have some close relationship but don’t because of fear of betrayal (Pistanthrophobia), or you feel inadequate.
  3. You think everyone is talking about you which makes you a bit prickly.
  4. Social gatherings are scary, uncomfortable and unpleasant.
  5. You don’t think the other to be inferior or disgusting. Rather you think of yourself to be inferior and disgusting.
  6. Even a small ‘no’ can make you want to end your life.
  7. You cannot ask for help since you think no one will even help you.
  8. Intimate relationships are scary. Don’t get too involved and restrict yourself are two mantras to ice the future burn.
  9. You are too dependent on that one person you’re so comfortable with. This might end up being toxic.