How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
A person with an avoidant personality feels inadequate and so has great trouble interacting with others.
Symptoms may include:
About 1% of both men and woman have this disorder. It often appears in childhood.
Unlike some other disorders, avoidant people may well respond to therapeutic methods where their confidence may be boosted and understanding of the condition lead to effective coping strategies.
Avoidant people are not necessarily introverted, although it may seem this way. They may actually really want to be with others, but their sense of inadequacy and fears of what others may think or say prevents them from seeking relationships. They may hence live sad and lonely lives, and may even seek refuge in drugs or fall into other disorders.
Because they fear criticism, they may speak little and appear to be the 'quiet mouse'. Others may hence not realize the severity of their condition. The fear may also drive hard work in order to avoid being criticized and they may hence be offered promotion, which they will likely reject as this could lead to the need to interact more with others.
Where they do interact with others, the avoidant person will seek to be liked by being friendly and not criticizing others. In this way they may well appear as a 'nice person'.
The person is unlikely to feel that they are bad, even though they fear being judged. They just tend to think that this is just an aspect of their personality, that they are quiet and are not that social.
Avoidant Personality Disorder is one of the ten personality disorders described by DSM-IV.
Avoidant personality disorder is not the same as Social Phobia, which is caused by specific traumas and hence is limited to particular situations. The avoidant condition will appear in most contexts.