Avoidant Personality Disorder
From the moment a person is born, his or her personality
begins to take shape. In infancy, childhood, and later
adolescence, the individual explores a multitude of behaviors.
Of all the behaviors, or personalities, the person experiences,
one of them will stick with them until the day they die.
Unfortunately, each specific personality also contain a
personality disorder. Personality disorders can result in
anxiety attacks, depression, and to a certain level, suicide.
One of the most unique personality disorders is the Avoidant
Personality Disorder.

The DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994)
describes Avoidant Personality Disorder as: a persuasive pattern
of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and
hypersensitivity to negative evaluation, beginning by early
childhood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by
four (or more) of the following traits:
1.) avoids occupational activities that involve
significant interpersonal contact because of fears of
criticism, disapproval, or rejection
2.) is unwilling to get involved with people unless
certain of being liked
3.) shows restraint within intimate relationships
because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
4.) is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in
social situations
5.) is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because
of feelings of inadequacy
6.) views self as socially inept, personally unappealing,
or inferior to others
7.) is usually reluctant to take personal risks or to
engage in nay new activities because they may prove
embarrassing
Avoidant Personality Disorder usually starts at early
adulthood. The American Psychiatric Association is convinced
that an equal amount of men and women experience this personality
disorder. According to one other study by Greenberg &
Stravynski, more men are being referred for professional help
than women (Long). The reason for this is because society
usually expects men to be the initiators in relationships with
women.
People that suffer from Avoidant Personality Disorder
display traits such as timidity, shyness, and a withdrawing
behavior. Avoidants, people that suffer from Avoidant
Personality Disorder, use these traits to hurt others so that
they can avoid a close relationship with them. They like to
display their hostility in an “open” manner by insulting people
who try to be friendly. The reason for this is so that they can
handle feared rejection by becoming rejecting themselves.
Avoidants reject other people first so that they are not the
first to be rejected. Most of the time avoidants reject people
who would have never rejected them in the first place. A victim
of this personality disorder is usually affected in one of three
ways. First, some avoidants put in considerable time and effort
into making themselves attractive to others. They do this so
they will at least be liked for their looks, if not for
themselves. Second, some make sure that their appearance drives
others away. Third, some avoidants may dress in the style of the
era when the trauma occurred (Long). This action obviously
displays that the avoidant is living in his or her past. Speech
is also affected in an avoidants life. In fact, most avoidants
use frequent pauses, and speak very slow, while other avoidants
may try to be “outgoing”, possibly due to the false belief that
continuous talking will prevent death, an avoidants worst fear
(Kantor).

Avoidants often test others to determine whether or not they
are being truthful in their friendship. Because they may
frequently see rejection where it does not exist, people will
tend to fail these “tests” and then later be avoided because they
may reject or humiliate those with Avoidant Personality Disorder.
People with Avoidant Personality Disorder have difficulty
beginning and keeping relationships. In some cases, avoidants
may try to be a perfectionist and reject anyone who does not live
up to their perfect standards. The reason for all of this
rejection that avoidants give, is so that if they are rejected,
they will find it less painful because they did not like the
person anyway. Some people that have Avoidant Personality
Disorder even believe that they must avoid intimacy because
giving love to others reduces the energy they have available for
themselves and that they need for their own life.

Most people with Avoidant Personality Disorder do not show
the affects that the personality disorder has on them because
they think that their emotions will make them suffer from
rejection or humiliation. Avoidants tend to have low self-esteem
and believe that they are unworthy of being in successful
relationships. Along with their low self-esteem, they also are
very self-conscious, frequently lonely, and see their
accomplishments as being too small or worthless. They discharge
their affection, aggression, and other impulses by ignoring
others around them. They also like to watch television and
daydream to escape from reality (Long).
Experts believe that heredity and prenatal maternal factors
are connected with Avoidant Personality Disorder. There is
scientific evidence that proves that a child that lives in a
timid environment in infancy is prone to develop Avoidant
Personality Disorder later in life (Kantor). Another important
factor that contributes to the development of Avoidant
Personality Disorder is parental rejection. Parental Rejection
can destroy a child’s optimism, leaving them with feelings of
social isolation. A common question that a rejected child might
ask would be, for instance, “If my parents won’t accept me, then
who will?” A second factor that Avoidant Personality Disorder
could be derived from is peer rejection. When a child’s friends
begin to reject and make fun of them, they begin to criticize
themselves. When children cannot turn to their peers or parents
for a relationship, they learn to cope with rejection. Avoidant
Personality Disorder may be the result of these actions.
To handle the causes, complications, and consequences that
Avoidant Personality Disorder consist of, there are few
approaches for the treatment of this unique personality disorder.
Currently, there are two major types of treatments for
personality disorders: psychotherapy and pharmacological
therapy. Depending whether the patient is suicidal or violent
determines how the psychiatrist, or therapist, will decide to
treat the individual. One type practice that is used in
psychotherapy is called avoidance reduction. It is similar to
the other techniques that are found in other psychotherapies.
There are three approaches that are used in avoidance reduction:
supportive therapy, positive feedback, and reassurance. These
three approaches give the patient encouragement. The other major
form of treatment for personality disorders is pharmacological.
There are many types of drugs that doctors prescribe for patients
like these. These drugs are classified as antidepressants.

Imipramine, desipramine hydrochloride, doxepin, chlordiazepoxide,
and diazepam are some common antidepressants.
Avoidant Personality Disorder is a serious personality
disorder that affects many of us Americans today. Hopefully,
people will learn more about the personality disorder so that
they can try to stop Avoidant Personality Disorder from happening
early in his or her or even in their infants lives. I hope that
there will be a medical cure for this disorder later in life.