“People with avoidant personality disorder are very uncomfortable and inhibited in social situations, overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy, and extremely sensitive to negative evaluation” (Comer, 2013, p. 501). These people fear rejection so much that they avoid social situations to avoid rejection. People with avoidant personality disorder believe that they are less than others and don’t find themselves physically appealing.
Avoidant personality disorder prevents people from participating in activities where others might judge them. They might avoid going to work, school, or other places if they are concerned with being criticized or people not liking them. People with this disorder avoid trying new things for fear of being embarrassed. They struggle to tolerate criticism taking it personally and causing them great distress.
Theorists believe that avoidant personality disorder and anxiety disorders are caused by similar events. Research, however, has not successfully linked the two. The most popular theories behind avoidant personality disorder come from psychodynamic, cognitive, and behavioral explanations.
Psychodynamic theorists focus on the extreme feelings of shame that people with this disorder feel. Some believe this feeling comes from punitive consequences during toilet training or when the child has “accidents”. When kids are frequently criticized and punished for accidents they might develop a negative self-image. These interactions may lead to a distrust in the love of others. It may also lead to the child feeling unlovable throughout their life.
Cognitive theorists believe that criticism and rejection in early childhood leads the individual to believe that others will always treat them this way. They expect rejection and negatively interpret others responses. These individuals also discount any positive feedback that comes their way. They become fearful in social situations which leads them to avoid them.
Behavioral theorists contend that individuals with this disorder struggle to develop social skills. These underdeveloped skills helps fuel the disorder. Many theorists believe that the lack of social skills amongst these individuals comes from avoiding social situations.
The key to treating an individual with avoidant personality...