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Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

Avoidance coping plays an important role in common psychological problems.

When I first mention “avoidance coping,” people tend to assume I just mean procrastinating, but in psychology-speak, avoidance means something a bit different.

Avoidance coping creates stress and anxiety, and ravages self-confidence. It’s is a major factor that differentiates people who have common psychological problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, and/or eating disorders) vs. those who don’t.

The first step to overcoming avoidance coping is to learn to recognize it (at the time you’re doing it).

Here are 9 types of avoidance coping to look out for.

1. You avoid taking actions that trigger painful memories from the past.

For example, you avoid asking questions in class because it reminds you of a time you asked a question and the teacher embarrassed you.

Or, you avoid going to a professor’s office hours because she gave you a disappointing grade last semester and the thought of approaching her retriggers your feelings about the grade.

Avoiding things that trigger difficult memories is one of the most important and common types of avoidance coping.

2. You try to stay under the radar.

People who have a sense of defectiveness often try to stay “under the radar.” They often fear things like being kicked of university, or their success feels fraudulent to them. They feel like if they’re noticed, their flaws will be revealed.

3. You avoid reality-testing your thoughts.

For example, you’re worried your child is on the autism spectrum but you put your head in the sand or just read stuff on the internet rather than seek a professional assessment.

4. You try to avoid the potential for people being mad at you.

For example, you avoid asking for things you want, in case the person gets mad at you for asking.

People who are very concerned about others potentially being mad at them might just be people-pleasers, or they may have anxiety about rejection. You might’ve had experiences of anger leading to rejection. or just have an anxious attachment style.

In most situations, anger doesn’t lead to rejection.

Often, trying to avoid experiencing other people being angry backfires and you end up doing things that are more likely to cause anger: e.g., you avoid telling someone you can’t go to an event, squeeze it in and then end up arriving really late.

5. You have a tendency to stop working on a goal when an anxiety-provoking thought comes up.

For example, you tend to quit difficult goals or tasks if you start thinking “This is hard” or “I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to do this.”

Accept that these types of thoughts are often par for the course when working on difficult goals (Also make sure you’re taking enough breaks.)

6. You avoid feeling awkward.

You avoid potentially awkward conversations not so much because you fear the consequences but because you have a tendency to avoid any feelings of awkwardness.

When you start allowing yourself to experience awkwardness, you’ll realize it’s not that bad and you can cope.

7. You avoid starting a task if you don’t know how you’re going to finish it.

Don’t worry about all the steps; just do the first logical step. Action is much more likely to produce new insights than ruminating.

8. You avoid certain physical sensations.

This is especially common in people prone to panic attacks.

  • Unfit people (and people with panic disorder) sometimes avoid sensations of exertion, e.g., getting their heart rate up during exercise.
  • People with body image issues might avoid sexual sensations that activate their body image concerns.
  • Overeaters sometimes avoid feeling even a little bit hungry; i.e., they eat before they feel sensations of hunger.

9. You avoid entering situations that may trigger thoughts like “I’m not the best. I’m not as good as other people.”

If your sense of self-worth is based on being better than average in all important areas, you’ll struggle with situations that trigger unfavorable social comparison.

This can really hold you back from improving in areas where you’re not strong.

Practice exposing yourself to people who are better than you in areas where you’d like to improve.

Expecting yourself to be better than average at everything, or expecting yourself to be good at things with extensive practice, is a recipe for misery!

Be sure to check out my related posts on this topic:

Click here to purchase my book, The Anxiety Toolkit.

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

Do you secretly feel inferior to others and struggle with shame?

Are you reluctant to pursue goals, take risks, or meet new people?

Are you highly sensitive to criticism, and fear rejection?

Do you assume that others see you in a negative light?

Do you try not to get too close to people?

Do you suspect that you enjoy things less than other people do?

Do you often have anxiety in social situations?

If you answered yes to some of the above, you may have an avoidant style.

But in order to qualify for a diagnosis of true Avoidant Personality Disorder, you must have all of these traits. They must cause significant impairment in your life and they must be consistent across time and situations.

Scores of people are living their lives with Avoidant Personality Disorder. And legions more don’t qualify for the full diagnosis because they have only some of the traits and fight their own private battles with them, secretly and quietly.

It is possible to suffer silently with an intense fear of rejection, closeness or social situations but still soldier on, essentially unimpaired on the outside, but miserable on the inside.

Of all of the personality disorders, Avoidant is probably one of the least studied and least talked about. I think that’s probably because avoidant folks are quiet. You shy away from the limelight. You stay out of trouble, you stay out of the way. You don’t make waves.

So now, for a change, let’s talk about you.

Have you ever thought about why you have these struggles and anxieties? Why you? Why this? Because I have. I have thought about it a great deal. I have watched and listened and talked with my patients. And I think that I have some answers.

Here are a few important points about avoidance:

1. Avoidance is actually nothing more than a coping mechanism.

2. You developed this coping mechanism for a reason in your childhood.

You needed it, and it probably served you well in your childhood home.

3. When you use avoidance enough as a way to cope, it eventually becomes your “signature move.”

It becomes a solution that you go to over and over again. It becomes your style.

4. Avoidance feeds fear.

The more you avoid what you fear, the more you fear it. Then the more you avoid it. And so on and so on and so on, around and around it goes in an endless circle, growing ever larger.

5. All of the questions at the beginning of this article have one common denominator that drives them.

It’s a feeling and also a belief. That common denominator is this: a deep, powerful, perhaps unconscious feeling that you are not as valid as everyone else. Somehow, on some level, you just don’t matter as much.

It is very difficult to take on challenges in life when you don’t believe in yourself. It’s hard to be vulnerable in relationships when you don’t feel on equal footing with the other person. It’s hard to put yourself out there when you feel so obviously flawed.

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Now, let’s talk about your childhood for a moment.

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): When your parents fail to respond enough to your emotions and emotional needs.

What happens to a child whose parents too seldom say, “What’s wrong?” and then listen with care to her answer. How does it affect a child to have parents who are blind to what he is feeling? Parents who, through no fault of their own, fail to offer emotional support, or fail to truly see the child for who he is?

Childhood Emotional Neglect teaches you, the child, to avoid feeling, expressing, and needing. You are learning to avoid the very thing that makes you most real and the most human: your emotions. CEN is a breeding ground for shame, low self-worth, and yes, avoidance.

When you grow up this way, you grow up feeling invisible, and feeling that your emotions and emotional needs are irrelevant. You grow up feeling that your emotional needs should not exist and are a sign of weakness. You grow up to feel ashamed that you have feelings and needs at all.

But there is hope for you. Here are five steps to take to become less avoidant.

  1. Answer this question for yourself: What did you need to avoid in your childhood home?
  2. Accept that your avoidance is a coping mechanism that can be replaced by far better, healthier coping skills.
  3. Start observing yourself. Make it your mission to notice every time you avoid something. Start a list, and record every incident. Awareness is a vital first step.
  4. Look through the list, and notice the themes. Is there a trend toward avoiding social situations? Risks? Goals? Feelings? Needs?
  5. Start, little by little, one step at a time, facing things. How pervasive is your avoidance? If it is everywhere of everything, I urge you to seek a therapist’s help. If you have success on your own, be persistent. Don’t give up, no matter how hard it gets.

Because the more you face things, the less scary they become, and the easier they become to face again, and the more you face. And so on and so on and so on, around and around it goes in an endless circle, growing ever larger.

But this circle is a healthy, strong circle that is a reversal of the circle of avoidance that began in your childhood. This circle will take you somewhere good.

To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, how it happens and how it causes avoidance, see EmotionalNeglect.com and the book, Running on Empty.

Jonice Webb has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is the author of the book Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. To learn more about Childhood Emotional Neglect, you can visit her website.

This article was originally published at Psych Central. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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The first study of its kind sheds light on what people who have the condition experience.

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

In the first study of its kind, researchers have asked people to describe in their own words what it’s like to live with Avoidant Personality Disorder—a diagnosis defined by psychiatrists as “a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.” Like all personality disorder diagnoses, AVPD is controversial, with some critics questioning whether it is anything other than an extreme form of social phobia.

To shed new light on the issue, lead author Kristine D. Sørensena, a psychologist, twice interviewed 15 people receiving outpatient treatment for AVPD. The researchers said the overarching theme to emerge from theinterviews was the participants’ struggle to be a person. “They felt safe when alone, yet lost in their aloneness,” the researchers said. They “longed to connect with others yet feared to get close.” In the researchers’ opinion, the participants’ profound difficulties with their “core self” and in their dealings with others do indeed correspond to “a personality disorder diagnosis”.

Beneath the overarching theme of struggling to be a person, there emerged two main themes, the first being “fear and longing.” This included participants’ descriptions of having to put on a mask when socializing and their difficulty feeling normal. This constant performance meant they felt other people never really knew them. There were some rare exceptions to these difficulties: For instance, one participant said they felt authentic when with their young daughter, yet other participants described how, as their children grew older, their usual insecurities returned even when in their company.

Another difficulty that was mentioned repeatedly was the dread of getting close to others. Coping measures included only interacting through email or text message, and when in physical company, avoiding eye contact.

The participants also described a conundrum—the solitude that brought them comfort and safety was also suffocating. They were “feeling sad, almost grieving when they were alone,” the researchers said. To cope, the participants said they kept busy playing computer games and listening to music. Most effective were physical sports and hobbies like making music, yet sadly the relief evaporated as soon as thoughts of being evaluated crept into mind.

The second main theme was “a doubting self”–including chronic insecurity and a fleeting sense of self. Participants had the perception that other people breeze through life and have no trouble being themselves. Related to this, the participants were constantly struggling to make sense of their own persistent insecurities.

The constant acting and pretense when in company led to feelings “like one is not even there,” as one participant put it. Sometimes this developed into an emotional hollowness. After wearing a mask for so many years, some participants feared they had forgotten who they truly were underneath. On the positive side, participants found time in nature was therapeutic, especially when immersed in a physical challenge.

In short, the researchers said that their participants spend so much time “reflecting on themselves that it seemingly disrupted their everyday life functioning.” They also lacked feelings of belonging, attachment, and intimacy. Their suspicion of others and the burden of keeping up appearances “caused the participants to retreat from and miss social experiences that might have provided more trustworthy and comforting answers to questions related to the inner mental lives of themselves or others.”

Sørensena and her colleagues said these insights could be useful for therapists. The therapeutic alliance (a warm, trusting relationship between therapist and client)—always important—will be even more critical for clients with avoidant personality disorder. “The therapeutic relationship provides an opportunity for persons diagnosed with AVPD to experience being met with acceptance and understanding,” the researchers said.

Christian Jarrett is the author of the forthcoming book Personology: Using the Science of Personality Change to Your Advantage.

This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared on Research Digest, published by the British Psychological Society. Read the original article.

If your partner has ever left you hanging or has pushed all the important decisions off to you, these scripts will serve your relationship well. An avoidant partner is someone who seems engaged and supportive at one time but refuses to take steps to progress your relationship.

When faced with threats of rejection, commitment, or loss, many avoidant men and women are able to focus their attention on other issues and goals or withdraw. Avoidant partners are likely to deny their vulnerability and use repression to manage emotions that are aroused in situations that activate their attachment needs (source).

It’s the guy who has urgent work whenever you bring up the topic of commitment or the gal who changes topics when marriage or living together is suggested. This can be quite frustrating for the other partner but it often doesn’t mean that the relationship itself is dissatisfying.

Many avoidant partners can be supportive, fun, engaged, except in those things that make them run away and hide. Later on, we will look at five scripts you can use to reach them and reduce their instinct to dodge uncomfortable situations or give non-answers.

What You Need to Understand About Adults Who Display Avoidant Attachment Styles:

People with avoidant attachment styles tend to be overly focused on themselves and their routines, and are quick to dismiss the feelings and interests of other people.

They also find it challenging to share their thoughts and feelings with their romantic partners. Their typical response to an argument, conflict, and different stressful situations is to become distant and aloof.

Your partner is likely to be avoidant in adulthood because they formed an avoidant attachment to their parent or parents while growing up.

Because avoidantly attached adults learned as infants to disconnect from their bodily needs and minimize the significance of emotions, they often steer clear of emotional intimacy in romantic relationships.

Avoidantly attached adults still seek out relationships and enjoy spending time with their partners but are likely to become cold and distant when the relationship becomes too close for them.

It’s essential to know your own attachment style and needs first before embarking on any romantic relationship. According to numerous studies, and outlined in Attached: Are you Anxious, Avoidant or Secure? How the science of adult attachment can help you find and keep – love by author Amir Levine; individuals with anxious attachment styles tend to be attracted to those with avoidant attachment styles and vice versa.

An anxious and avoidant pairing can prove to create a turbulent union because their opposing natures can mean that the individuals within this relationship are less likely to have their own needs met.

The avoidant person values freedom and autonomy, whereas the anxious person craves closeness and intimacy. It would be highly beneficial first to ask yourself why you want your avoidant partner to commit and whether this is what’s best for the both of you.

Why Even Be in a Relationship With an Avoidant Person?

Fortunately, we don’t have to remain trapped within the confines of the defensive attachment strategies we developed early in life. Numerous experiences throughout life provide us with the gift of personal growth and transformation.

Although our patterns of attachment were formed in infancy and persist throughout your life, with the conscious effort it is entirely possible to develop an “Earned Secure Attachment” at any age.

By being honest about our own needs and communicating effectively with our partners, we can both develop an even stronger, much deeper bond while simultaneously evolving as individuals.

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

What is avoidant attachment? If you want to be in love but then always walk away, or are in a relationship with someone who keeps pushing you back? Then it’s something you need to know about.

Attachment theory

Attachment in psychology refers to the way we form relationships. How do we ‘attach’ to others, how do we create bonds?

Attachment theory is a school of thought that states that from birth to at least the age of seven, we all need one caregiver we can rely on to give us unconditional love and safety. This allows us to feel secure, and to begin to venture out into the world, knowing we have that secure base waiting for us.

Without this love and safety, we grow up with problems with relating, or unhealthy ‘attachment styles’. These are most obvious in our romantic relationships, but can also affect our relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

[Do you feel so entirely alone in the world that it worries you? Time to talk to someone who gets it? Book a Skype therapist now , Be talking as soon as tomorrow.]

What is avoidant attachment?

Avoidant attachment means that your lack of healthy bonding as a child has made you very suspicious of relationships. You react to intimacy by backing off and, well, ‘avoiding’ it.

If you are seen as aloof and called ‘emotionally unavailable’ then you might have avoidant attachment.

Relationships in your life are kept business-like, even if it’s a romantic attachment. Or perhaps you prefer to avoid commitment altogether.

Symptoms of avoidant attachment

The signs and symptoms of avoidant attachment can look like the following:

  • holding independence as the most important
  • believing you don’t actually need anyone at all
  • avoid talking about your emotions
  • not liking physical affection or having rules around it
  • refusing to talk about your past
  • having very strong personal boundaries you don’t negotiate
  • shutting down if someone pushes you to ‘get deep’ or be emotional
  • being so cold you are accused of being mean
  • constantly finding faults in others (a great way to keep them at bay)
  • having an ideal past partner you use to compare others to unfavourably
  • if you are in a romantic relationship, you sometimes feel stifled
  • perhaps more prone to casual relationships then commitment
  • or avoiding relationships altogether.

The ‘Strange Situation’

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

The different attachment disorders were named after a 1970s study carried out by psychologist Mary Ainsworth.

The study was called the ‘strange situation study’. In it, a parent was left with her one year-old child in the room. The child explored the room with the parent watching. Then a stranger was put into the room to talk to the parent before approaching the child. The parent was ordered to then leave the room quietly, to see how the child would react being left with the stranger. Finally, the parent was allowed to re-enter the room to comfort the child.

Ainsworth identified a group of children she then called ‘anxious-avoidant, insecure’. These infants did not show distress when the parent left or returned. And sometimes they even ignored the caregiver. Ainsworth’s research showed that these same children were often pushed away by their parents when seeking attention or to have their needs met.

It was theorised this was lack of emotion was the child’s mask for distress. This assumption was later proved in studies that measured the heart rate of such children, and found it to be elevated.

Why do I have avoidant attachment disorder?

What the above study proposes is that as a child you decided that it was pointless to communicate your needs as it had no effect on your caregiver. Your way to survive was to act as if you had no needs at all. This meant you could stay close to your caregiver, who you did need for survival, and not be pushed off.

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

But it also means you grow up into an adult who doesn’t see his or her needs as worthwhile, doesn’t communicate these needs, and doesn’t react to those they are in relationships with.

Avoidant attachment style vs avoidant personality disorder

Note that having an avoidant attachment style is different than ‘avoidant personality disorder‘, or AvPD.

A personality disorder is an entrenched way of seeing the world that starts in adolescence. If you have AvPD your lack of interest in relationships will seriously affect all areas of life. It means you struggle to understand how other people act and think. You might, for example, not pursue life goals or a big career, as the interaction required seems too overwhelming.

An avoidant attachment style just affects your romantic relationships or close other relationships, and means you aren’t comfortable with intimacy.

What do I do if this is me or my partner?

If you are in a relationship with an avoidant, pushing them to communicate and emote like you do is not helpful. Attachment issues don’t change overnight, and your partner will need to commit to a process of personal growth of their own volition.

But, often, so will you. Interestingly, it is those with a corresponding attachment issue, ‘anxious attachment‘, that are attracted to avoidants. This means you have your own issues with relating, and might be either too clingy and demanding, or tend to push and pull.

If you are pretty sure you are an avoidant, then you are on the right track by assessing your own ways of relating. There will need to be a lot more self reflecting, as well as a journey of learning to recognise your own needs and communicate them. And you’ll need to learn to accept other people for who they are, and navigate compromise in relationships.

Therapy is a great place to start to look at these patterns. A therapist not only helps you process the childhood experiences behind your ways of relating, but to try out new approaches in a safe, non-judgmental space.

Harley Therapy puts you in touch with top London therapists who can help with avoidant attachment issues. Not in London or the UK? Try our booking platform , with affordable Skype therapy you can access from anywhere.

Still have a question about avoidant attachment? Post in the public comment box below.

Avoidant personality is classified as a personality disorder in the DSM-5, and it’s widely understood that there is no “cure” for personality disorders. But with treatment and therapy, copious research suggests symptoms can be improved, and individuals with avoidant personality can build healthy, close relationships.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Treatment

Treating avoidant personality can be difficult, as the condition is a pervasive and enduring one. However, individuals with avoidant personality often genuinely want close relationships. This desire can increase their motivation to seek out and follow treatment plans. Research on treatment for social anxiety and avoidant personality even found that treatment outcomes between those with both conditions and those with only social anxiety were relatively the same.

Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for avoidant personality. Psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are two specific types of therapy often used to treat this condition. Psychodynamic therapy, which involves exploring unconscious factors behind feelings of inferiority, can help people resolve past conflicts that may be causing current issues. The focus of CBT, on the other hand, is the identification and modification of problematic beliefs and behaviors.

Social skills training has also been found to be an effective method for helping individuals reduce the effects of AVPD on their life. Additionally, schema therapy, in which an individual is guided through the process of identifying maladaptive thought patterns and frameworks, or schemas, and changing them, has been shown to be helpful.

Self-Help for AVPD

While therapy is often a key element of treatment for people who experience avoidant personality, self-help strategies and healthy coping mechanisms can support good treatment results. As personality disorders, including AVPD, may be associated with some unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as escapism, practicing more functional ways of coping can be a helpful first step toward feeling better for many.

To minimize the effects of AVPD, individuals may:

As personality disorders may be more resistant to treatment than generalized anxiety, many individuals report that treatment with a qualified therapist or psychologist can be critical to seeing improvement.

Avoidant Personality Disorder and Medication

There is no medication approved specifically for the treatment of avoidant personality. However, doctors may prescribe antidepressants to target co-occurring anxiety or depression. Some research suggests that individuals with AVPD are more likely to be on medication than those with social anxiety but without a personality disorder.

In some cases, antipanic medication may be prescribed to individuals who experience severe anxiety responses, or panic, along with avoidant personality. However, a study published in the Journal of Personality Disorders found individuals with AVPD were more likely to relapse after going off of antipanic medication than those without a personality disorder.

Case Example: Therapy for Avoidant Personality

Psychotherapy for comorbid avoidant personality and depression: Matilda, age 20, has recently begun attending college away from her parents’ home where she had lived previously and struggles to find consistent work in her new town to support her living expenses. She often feels she is being judged for being “too quiet” by prospective employers, making her clam up further and causing her to lose the job opportunity. Instead, she works odd jobs cleaning houses and doing landscaping work for clients she finds online. In addition to her frustration about her ability to find work, Matilda feels deeply alone. Although she shares an apartment with housemates, she often turns down their invitations to go out, feeling she is not currently in the right “mental space” to engage with them and that this would only cause them to ultimately reject her if she chose to spend time with them in her current state. Instead, Matilda isolates herself in her room and avoids entering common living spaces when her housemates are home. She begins to feel more depressed and often eats until uncomfortably full to avoid facing the deep discomfort she feels with herself. A conversation with her mother about her mental health convinces her to seek therapy for depression and possible social anxiety. After a psychological evaluation, her psychologist suggests she meets many of the criteria for avoidant personality. Matilda spends time in therapy learning about avoidant personality and examining some of her currently held thought patterns about her own social skills and ability to interact with others. While she still occasionally struggles with a desire to hold back from intimate friendships and relationships, Matilda starts to become more confident in her social skills with the help of therapy. Soon, she finds steady work, and she continues to work with her therapist to build skills that will allow her to form healthy connections with others.

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle it

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The majority of the people suffering from avoidant personality disorder (AVPD or Avoidant PD) report feeling inadequate (socially), inept, are preoccupied with rejection, and feel the need to be liked before making social contacts [1]. The preoccupation with rejection causes people with avoidant PD to distrust anyone, also the therapist in the beginning of the avoidant personality disorder treatment. Therefore, it’s possible for therapy to move slowly in the beginning. Once the patient-therapist relationship is strong, the focus of avoidant personality disorder treatment shifts to the painful inner experience to build relationships based on trust.

Other focus points of avoidant PD treatments are improving the patient’s functioning in (1) social situations, (2) intimate relationship, (3) (re)processing traumatic events, and (4) improving self-esteem. This page discusses the evidence based avoidant personality disorder treatment options and also discusses effective medication that reduces the impact of typical avoidant PD symptoms.

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Jump to:

  • What is avoidant PD?
  • Possible causes of avoidant PD.
  • Avoidant personality disorder diagnosis.
  • Take the avoidant PD test.
  • How to cope with AVPD?
  • Living with someone who has AVPD. (coming soon)
  • Interesting avoidant PD facts.
  • Online counseling for avoidant PD.
  • Take me to the homepage.

At Barends Psychology Practice, we offer (online) therapy for avoidant personality disorder. Contact us to schedule a first, free of charge, online session. (Depending on your health insurance, treatment may be reimbursed).

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Avoidant personality disorder treatment – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

How does it work? The theory behind cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is based on the assumption that avoidance and anxiety are related to the maladapted beliefs and thought processes of the patient. Through collaborative interactions between therapist and patient and by applying cognitive behavioural techniques the severity of the avoidant PD symptoms reduces significantly. Examples of CBT techniques are: the Socratic dialogue, analysing advantages and disadvantages of avoidance, monitoring of beliefs, activity monitoring and scheduling, role-play, graded exposure assignments, and behavioural experiments [3].

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Effectiveness: CBT significantly reduces the effect of the avoidant PD symptoms [2], [3]. Also, CBT improves interpersonal problems and personality functioning in 40% of the people. This effect was still significant two years after treatment [2]. According to study [3] only 9% still met criteria for avoidant PD after a 6 month follow-up. In other words: 91% of the patients with avoidant PD who received CBT did not meet the criteria for avoidant PD 6 months after treatment [3]. NOTE: the results of both studies [2] and [3] need to be replicated to be able to give more body to the evidence of CBT as a way of treating AVPD.
Cognitive behavioural therapy in combination with medication is the most effective avoidant personality disorder treatment type, because medication can help a patient to manage his or her anxiety levels, which make it easier for the patient to conduct behavioural experiments and practice with new behaviour.

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Avoidant personality disorder treatment – short-term dynamic psychotherapy

How does it work? The theory behind psychotherapy is based on on the assumption that avoidance and anxiety are related to the unconscious psychodynamic conflicts inside someone. Shame plays a big part in these unconscious conflicts. Short-term dynamic psychotherapy treatment focuses on defense and affect restructuring. Using expressive techniques such as clarification, confrontation, and interpretation, the therapist reduces the AVPD symptoms [3].

Effectiveness: According to study [2] and similar to CBT, short-term dynamic psychotherapy significantly reduces the effect of the avoidant PD symptoms. Psychotherapy also improves interpersonal problems and personality functioning in 40% of the people. This effect was still significant two years after treatment [2]. However, study [3] reports no significant difference between a waiting list and short-term dynamic psychotherapy. In other words, according to study [3] short-term dynamic psychotherapy is not effective in treating AvPD.

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Avoidant personality disorder treatment – time-limited supportive expressive therapy

How does it work? Treatment focuses on the operationalization of core conflict and includes the patient’s main wishes, how the patient view or anticipates other people responding to him or her. Treatment also focuses on how the patient feels, thinks or behaves [4].

Effectiveness: After 52 weekly sessions 38,5% of the patients with AVPD still met the criteria for AvPD. In other words: time-limited supportive expressive therapy is effective in 61,5% of the AVPD patients [4]. NOTE: this was a 1997 pilot study, so be very cautious when interpreting its results. The author of this website is not aware of any follow-up studies that were able to replicate its findings.

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Avoidant personality disorder treatment – Medication

There is no medication that cures avoidant personality disorder. However, there is medication that can reduce avoidant PD symptoms, such as anti-anxiety tablets and/or antidepressants. Unfortunately, medication is only effective for as long as someone takes the medication. Once the patient stops taking medication, the avoidant PD symptoms will return. For more information about anti-anxiety medication of antidepressants, click on: anti-anxiety medication and on antidepressants.
Medication in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy is the most effective avoidant personality disorder treatment type, because the medication can help a patient control his or her anxiety when performing behavioural experiments.

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Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by TYK » Mon Jun 08, 2015 12:07 am

“in anxiety the dominant theme is danger,and that the person with avoidant personality simply minimizes social interactions in order to protect himself or herself from the danger of developing low self-esteem”(Martin Kantor,The essential guide to overcoming avoidant personality disorder,pg.179.

I am agree with above mentioned position.Please kindly give your opinion.Thank You.

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Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by loneman » Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:58 am

TYK wrote: “in anxiety the dominant theme is danger,and that the person with avoidant personality simply minimizes social interactions in order to protect himself or herself from the danger of developing low self-esteem”(Martin Kantor,The essential guide to overcoming avoidant personality disorder,pg.179.

I am agree with above mentioned position.Please kindly give your opinion.Thank You.

Yep, pretty much. That’s the first time I’ve seen it put in that particular order though. I’ve seen it phrased as: “avoidants HAVE low self esteem, and they minimize social interactions to protect self from danger of REJECTION”

Interesting twist though. as I do feel a lower self esteem when I interact socially.

It all twists and turns inwardly on itself though. some sort of horrible endless feedback loop.

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by inverse » Mon Jun 08, 2015 1:32 pm

Kantor is messed up. He’s very “blame the victim,” probably because his own daughter is avoidant and doesn’t want to take responsibility for the abuse that made her that way.

There is nothing more frustrating to me than suggesting that avoidant people have a choice. Also, check the guidelines, you have to have low self-esteem FIRST, and there’s nothing we can do to avoid having low self-esteem. If you have high self-esteem, you are not avoidant.

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by creative_nothing » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:07 pm

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by loneman » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:13 pm

Yeah, doesn’t he talk about her in his book?
Not only is that unethical, but what kinda dad uses his daughter as a case example, without disguising her identity.

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by Auxiliary11 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:18 pm

self dx. pdd-nos (level 1); covert narcissism w/ avoidant traits; social phobia; inertia.

INFP; dismissive/fearful-avoidant & highly sensitive person

“Life, a sexually transmitted, terminal disease.”
“you built up a world of magic, because your real life is tragic”

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by blankslate » Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:20 pm

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by stefanwlb » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:29 am

“in anxiety the dominant theme is danger,and that the person with avoidant personality simply minimizes social interactions in order to protect himself or herself from the danger of developing low self-esteem”(Martin Kantor,The essential guide to overcoming avoidant personality disorder,pg.179.

While I do agree that anxiety is the real issue, and that Anxiety Avoidance Disorder would better reflect this problem, I am not, however, convinced that self-esteem is the underlying issue here. I believe it is more in tune with the concept of schemas or early childhood traumas that has caused the individual to retreat from the world. It is an incorrect or biased view of the world precisely because the view has been ripped out of its context and generalized across the entire humanity.

From this perspective, self-esteem is only the end-product of the real issue, the self-perpetuation of a child’s distorted and unhelpful view of the world. Once beneficial and required, now ineffective and strongly damaging.

So from Dr Kantor’s point of view, we need to tackle self-esteem, from my point of view, we need to tackle why the person is still holding onto a child’s distorted view of the world and how they can challenge these views in order to overcome their irrational (phobic) fear of others.

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by snookiebookie » Tue Jun 09, 2015 2:44 pm

Maybe because Kantor has badly worded that paragraph, or maybe because I’m misunderstanding it, but it sounds like he’s saying that we’re Avoidant to protect from developing low self esteem.

I think we already have low self esteem due to our early experiences. Through those experiences we have developed a pattern of thinking, feeling, relating to the world and behaving.

Whilst through therapy, or whatever, we can learn new behaviours, I do not believe you can change how you think and feel.

How we are programmed and our self esteem also perpetuate the cycle.

The feeling I get from that one paragraph is that we simply have to stop avoiding and everything will be perfect. There are many times where I force myself NOT to avoid, but it doesn’t stop my lack of self esteem or my paranoid negative thoughts. Afterwards, I always feel I should have avoided in the first place

Re: Avoidant Personality Disorder and Low Self-Esteem

by inverse » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:44 pm

That is exactly what he is saying. The guy basically made stuff up as he went along.

Signs of avoidant personality disorder and how to tackle itAvoidant personality disorder (AVPD) is a condition characterized by social inhibition. Individuals diagnosed with avoidant personality are typically hypersensitive to criticism and fixate on what others think of them. As a result, they withdraw from situations in which they may be judged.

What Is Avoidant Personality Disorder?

It is not uncommon for someone to be concerned about how others perceive them. Yet individuals with avoidant personality dread being labeled as inadequate. This fear manifests in a variety of social and professional contexts.

Although they may desire intimacy and affection, people with avoidant personality often have trouble maintaining meaningful relationships. Their fear of rejection prevents them from opening up and meeting new people. Intimate relationships can be especially difficult for individuals with avoidant personality, who may constantly worry about saying something wrong or embarrassing themselves. This worry leads them to withdraw. Since individuals with avoidant personality are sensitive to criticism, they may be more easily hurt by others.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) characterizes avoidant personality as a personality disorder. This means it is a long-standing and pervasive pattern of personality. To be diagnosed with avoidant personality, an individual must exhibit at least four of the following symptoms:

Individuals with avoidant personality are likely to be quiet and shy. They may seek to be “invisible” in order to avoid criticism. Although they want to engage with others, their fears tend to make it difficult for them to do so.

Avoidant Personality Disorder Causes and Prevalence

Experts believe avoidant personality is caused by a combination of one’s biology and environment. The condition occurs more commonly among family members, suggesting a genetic component is at play. Rejection by peers or parents may also have a role in avoidant personality.

Anywhere from about 0.5% to 2.4% of people meet the criteria for avoidant personality. The condition typically develops by early adulthood and appears at similar rates in individuals of all genders, although women may be slightly more likely to meet criteria. People with anxiety-related diagnoses are far more likely to have avoidant personality. It may affect up to 50% of people with agoraphobia and up to 40% of those who experience social anxiety, for instance.

In one study, AVPD was found to be positively correlated with pessimism, having had more negative childhood experiences, and being highly sensitive.

AVPD, Romantic Relationships, and Marriage

One common side effect of avoidant personality disorder is a lack of intimate relationships or emotional connection with others. A study in the Journal of Personality Disorders found avoidant personality to be negatively associated with success in intimate relationships. But why does it make close relationships difficult, and how can these obstacles be overcome?

Avoidant personality often makes people feel inferior to others. Furthermore, the emotional disconnect between the person with avoidant personality and others that often results can cause the person with AVPD to feel like an outsider. Both of these factors can make it more difficult to establish close platonic and romantic relationships.

Even when someone who experiences avoidant personality does become involved in an intimate relationship, maintaining a strong emotional bond may be challenging. In order to protect themselves from rejection, people with AVPD may not open up as easily to a romantic partner; this may even cause some partners who don’t understand to feel rejected themselves. Fearing judgement of who they really are, the avoidant partner may continue to wall off parts of themselves even to those they are closest to. Partners of those with avoidant personality may feel their relationship lacks depth or emotional connection.

Although avoidant personality disorder cannot be “cured,” it is still possible for people with AVPD to maintain fulfilling intimate relationships. Often, it may be helpful for the individual with AVPD to attend individual therapy with a professional they trust in order to learn skills that will help them be open, authentic, and communicative with their partner. In some cases, the couple may seek therapy for their relationship together. In couples counseling, the partner without AVPD may gain a deeper understanding of how avoidant personality may affect their partner, and the individual with AVPD may learn how their behavior affects their partner and how to help bridge the gap.

Living with Avoidant Personality Disorder

Individuals with avoidant personality are usually aware of even the subtlest of reactions. They often perceive rejection in social interactions, even when the person’s intent was neutral. If someone happens to criticize their anxious demeanor, this criticism may confirm the individual’s feelings of inadequacy and perpetuate a cycle of avoidant behavior.

An avoidant personality is likely to hinder a person’s job as well as their social life. People with this condition may decline job promotions or increased responsibilities at work because they worry about failure. They often isolate themselves, reducing the size of their support network.

Individuals with avoidant personality can be prone to depression, bipolar, and anxiety. Social anxiety is particularly associated with avoidant personality. They may also meet criteria for a diagnosis of dependent personality, because they can become overly reliant upon a small number of trusted people.