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What is an Avoidant Personality?

Asked By: Anonymous     Views: 1,452 times

I’ve heard the term “Avoidant Personality”. Can you please explain what it is?

The DSM IV TR describes the essential feature of "Avoidant Personality Disorder" as a "pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hyper-sensitivity to negative evaluation that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts." The clinical reality is that this pattern of avoidance will be observable alot earlier in life than early adulthood. I have seen this literally thousands of times in my practice. The more that anxiety manifests itself with avoidance of situations where there is a perceived threat, the more the avoidance works it's way insidiously into the personality, as well as lifetyle. Many mental health professionals believe that avoidant personality disorder is not resolveable. Indeed; it can present tremendous clinical challenges. My co-writer, Amy Lemley, of "Work Makes Me Nervous: Overcome Anxiety and Develop the Confidence to Succeed" (Wiley) is an example of an individual who has conquered most of this problem. In the book she comes "out of the closet" with her personal description of this problem that controlled so much of her life. Amy is a gifted writer who has collaborated on about a dozen books including my first; "Beyond Shyness". She has taught at a prestigious business school. She is intellectually gifted. At one point (in the book) she describes her mind set, where as soon as she received a new project, she would automatically think how "she could avoid the agreed upon deadline". Amy's description of her struggle and recovery may be the most in -depth clinical description of avoidant personality available as there is so little content available about the avoidant population. When individuals avoid what they really desire, or should be doing, it becomes an investment in anger and rage at very deep, often non- conscious levels.Amy describes her challenge with "integrity" and "narcissism" as two integral dynamics for any possible resoluton to this problem.

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