About the text
I’m going to write down the following in English which is not my first language so please bear with the grammar errors or in general weirdness of how the sentences comes out. Why I’ll be writing anything about this topic in English might appear odd, but the reason is I’m not comfortable writing or talking about personal things. Doing it in a language that I don’t have full control over distances myself a bit from the personal feelings.
So why am I writing this in the first place? I simply want to spread a little more information about this quite unknown disorder. There’s already information on the Internet you say? Yes there is and probably better phrased as well, but I’ll write this anyway and it’ll come from someone who has this disorder and have a lot of experience from it.
This scary word. I feel I need to start by explaining this word and what it means. I personally avoid using the word disorder as it sounds quite extreme when you don’t know the meaning.
So personality disorder, perhaps she’s a psycho? While it can refer to quite severe mental illnesses this is not the case with the Cluster C personality disorders which is the category avoidant personality disorder goes in. The word disorder in personality disorder refer to a behaviour and thinking pattern in the personality that causes the person and/or other people problems in every day life.
Avoidant personality disorder
People with avoidant personality disorder are extremely sensitive to criticism and rejection. We are self-critical and tend to easily think that other dislike, judge and look down on us, and we tend to turn others words and actions into personal criticism. We’re very self-conscious and it’s hard to trust other people. It’s also difficult with physical contact (usually not with parents or own children) which makes close relationships complicated. All this causes a lot of anxiety in social situations, but there’s also a wish to be approved and a fear of being alone and feeling lonely.
We analyse people and situations a lot in look for criticism or rejection. Their gestures, the pitch in their voice, their wording and what their eye contact might tell. Very tiring work! When we can’t find anything that appears to be criticism or rejection for the time being we can feel approved and accepted in the social situation.
Avoidant personality disorder and generalised social anxiety disorder
Both these disorders appear very similar and can be hard to separate. To be diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder you need to meet the general criteria for personality disorder, which is not the case with social anxiety disorder.
Someone with avoidant personality disorder will fit in everything that is generalised social anxiety disorder, there’s however a broader spectrum of fears in avoidant personality disorder. While both causes the person to be very anxious in social situations and tries to avoid them, the fear for people with social anxiety disorder mostly comes from that they’ll do or say something that is embarassing or humiliating. There’s also a fear of that other people will notice they’re anxious and perhaps blushing, shaking and so on.
Avoidant personality disorder on the other hand is more a constant thinking pattern of fears of being disliked, not being good enough, being criticised and rejected. We look for constant approval and to appear being perfect.