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How to Recognize Avoidant Personality Disorder

written by: LotusSnow • edited by: jen2008 • updated: 12/7/2010

Individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder form relationships with people only if they believe they will not be rejected. These people are preoccupied with their own shortcomings. In spite of their strong desire for close relationships, they mistrust others and emotionally distance themselves.

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    About Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)

    This personality disorder is also known as Anxious Personality Disorder. It is characterized by behaviors such as extreme shyness, a feeling of inadequacy, and abnormal sensitivity to rejection. These individuals feel and see themselves as inferior to others.

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    How is Avoidant Personality Disorder Diagnosed?

    Recognizing avoidant personality disorder is not an easy task. Diagnosis of this disorder should be done with great caution especially in adolescents or with people whom shyness and avoidant behavior may be appropriate such as new immigrants. Usually the diagnosis is done only when these behaviors become problematic (e.g., persistent, disabling or distressing) for the individual. AvPD patients usually do not seek out treatment until they find that it has significantly impacted their lives (e.g., inability to work, study, care for their families).

    AvPD is typically diagnosed by trained mental health professionals, such as psychologists, or psychiatrists, by comparing the patient's symptoms and life history with the criteria listed in DSM-IV TR handbook. To date there is no blood or genetic testing that can be used to diagnose this disorder.

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    Signs and Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder

    Individuals who suffer from AvPD frequently demonstrate a preoccupation with their own shortcomings. They appear to be willing to risk forming a relationship with others only when they believe they will not be rejected. Some studies have shown that AvPD could be associated with perceived or actual rejection by parents or peers during their growing up years. People with AvPD are theorized to have suffered such painful experiences caused by loss and rejection that they are willing to choose to be alone rather than risk trying to connect with other people.

    Feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to what others think of them, are a long standing behavior pattern in these AvPD individuals. This disorder typically manifests itself and is noticed during early adulthood. The following signs and symptoms listed below can help us in recognizing avoidant personality disorder in individuals. People who suffer from this disorder often:

    • Strive to avoid any occupation activity, which involves an enormous amount of interpersonal contact. They do so because of their hypersensitivity and abnormal fear of being criticized, being disapproved of or being rejected.
    • Self-impose social isolation because of their unwillingness to get involve with other individuals unless they are certain of being liked.
    • Emotionally distance themselves when it comes to intimate relationships. They are fearful of being shamed or ridiculed. They mistrust others and are highly self-conscious.
    • Harbor feelings of inferiority and can be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected by others in social situations. They view themselves as socially inept, and personally unappealing.
    • Self-loathing and self-critical
    • Inhibition in new interpersonal situations due to feelings of their feelings of inadequacy. Extremely shy and anxious in social situations.
    • Reluctance in taking any personal risks or to try new activities because they fear that they might be laughed at. They are highly self-conscious individual.
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