Some people are overly shy in nature and keep isolated. But avoidant personality is more than this shy nature. He is marked with high rate of social inhibition and he is highly sensitive to criticism. He cannot tolerate being criticized by others. He would have serious problem in maintaining relationships with loved ones and family. About 1-2% of the general population has avoidant personality disorder.
These people avoid social gathering or any activity that involves group of people in the fear of being criticized. According to them they are unwanted elements in the society though in reality that is not so. They believe that they are far inferior to others and hence have low self esteem which prevents them from interaction with the society.
Some of the prominent signs of avoidant personality disorder are:-
- Avoiding activities that involve interpersonal contacts in the fear of being rejected or criticized
- Generally they are unwilling to interact with strangers
- Even with intimate relations they maintain self control due to the fear of being ridiculed
- Most of the time they are preoccupied with thoughts of being rejected and criticized
- Perceive themselves to be far inferior to others
- Cannot tolerate any new relations or task involving new interpersonal action
- They hesitate to take personal risks in involving with new activities in the fear of getting embarrassed
Many types of personality disorder become significant only when the person attains adulthood. Few of the symptoms may appear during adolescence but the person is still under development which would shape his/her personality further. By the time the person reaches 45-50 years they would experience extreme range of symptoms leading to distressed relationships.
People with avoidant personality will have social phobia or anxiety. They have overwhelming feelings of shyness, inferiority feeling and hypersensitivity. They have in-built negative emotions like fear of being rejected, detachment (withdrawal) which would cause significant distress for him/her in the society affecting their job or family life. These people will lack self confidence and a sense of belonging. They are scared to maintain intimate relationship with others. A person can be categorized with avoidant personality nature only if he/she has at least 4 of the above symptoms, according to American Psychiatric Association.
People with avoidant personality will not seek any treatment though they are fully aware of their problem. If any of your loved ones or friends have some of the above signs you can take him to psychologist for further evaluation and testing. A trained psychologist will listen to the problems and ask few questions regarding your interpersonal relations with the society before concluding about your personality type.
There are many theories and factors that are known to cause avoidant personality disorder. It can be due to genetic factors, psychological or social factors. The personality of a person is influenced by various factors like environment, the family in which he is brought up and the way in which he perceives the world. Personality is complex is nature and keeps changing until one reaches adulthood.
Firstly you have to get in touch with an expert therapist who deals with various types of personality disorder. Psychotherapy is given by the therapist for long term after establishing rapport with the client. In case of severe symptoms that disrupts having intimate relationship with others, medications are given by psychiatrist. The client should be made aware of his problem so that he would willingly cooperate with the therapist for attending future sessions. It would take long term for changing particular thought or perception of thinking of an individual and you cannot expect magic results in few sittings.
Individuals with avoidant personality will have poor self image and will have inordinate fear of being ridiculed. He would see only the negative aspects in life and would take the comments passed casually in serious way. The therapist would be smart enough to observe any cues given by the client when he/she is withholding any feelings.
Initially the psychologist would make complete evaluation of his personality by repeating the questionnaire or interview sessions to find out if there is any other personality disorder with him. There is every possibility for hidden social phobia or dependent/borderline personality disorder with the client since many symptoms are commonly shared with these disorders. Once the therapist overcomes the initial inhibitions is would be easy for her to establish rapport with the client to explore his hidden problems of self image and esteem. A good therapeutic relationship is one that can inculcate formation of new relationships with others.