I have often come across avoidant personality(APD) before on my travels through the madness of the internet but not really taken much notice as I just thought it pretty much the same as social anxiety by just another name so is there really a difference?
People with APD have many of the same characteristics as those with social anxiety disorder (SAD); however, the severity of the symptoms is greater.
If you have been diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder;
- You tend to have low self-esteem, strong feelings of inadequacy and a sensitivity to rejection.
- In new social settings, you will become extremely self-conscious, shy or inhibited and will be preoccupied with being criticized or rejected
- .You tend to view yourself as socially inept, personally unappealing or inferior to others.
- In interpersonal relationships, you will show restraint.
- You tend not to trust others and avoid relationships unless you are certain of being liked. Often, people with APD become socially isolated as a result of this avoidance.
In general, personality disorders are diagnosed when there is impairment in personality functioning (self and interpersonal), and the impairment is stable across time and situations.
This is certainly accurate with me but is this really that different from more serious social anxiety? I am definitely awful at handling criticism. so are my family. I cant even post my pictures on some photo sites as I could not handle the negative opinions of others although there are always people trying to put you down or show off on all online forums. I cant debate on any forums either as it feels like a personal attack to have another opinion even if mine are totally valid. But isn’t an over reaction to criticism common with most people with SA? Again the advice in SA books and sites which is to make an unpopular opinion even if valid does not work at all as making comments on SAUK against the crowd or mainstream opinion gets me attacked, disliked and ignored which actually increases my paranoia, depression and avoidance. So yet more useless advice given by so called experts.
APD has more to do with a person’s personality and may appear more stable over time and from one situation to another, while SAD tends to separate itself from the personality, may come and go depending on the situation, and may be easier to change or treat.
I also read that APD people are more likely to have paranoia and anger issues, fear of intimacy and of course depression but I thought this was simply due to age and being mental for so long. In fact I have only become seriously depressed, paranoid and more irritable in the last few years. I watched a woman with APD on youtube and it does seem much harder to treat than average SA as its so ingrained with no motivation or enthusiasm. For instance going out and doing exposures would certainly create some rejections and negative reactions but rather than move on I would get enraged and still be thinking about it at 4AM and then convince myself that this just confirms that people dislike me even when i do try to talk first. I would almost certainly lose it in therapy unless I had a very sympathetic therapist and I could not trust myself in group therapy to be polite if people criticised me which is what some role plays advocate.
Its obvious to me now that most therapists dont get all this when giving advice and claiming that social anxiety is easily treatable. For instance as I would probably choose death over intense humiliation and would stay awake all night going over my mistakes and I already have severe guilt and shame then expecting me to put myself though more intense shaming events like exposures and pretending they are the hard work needed and that they will cure me is obviously not going to work. In many situations I would get more anxious and awkward making people feel very uncomfortable and so confirming all negative beliefs when they react badly. This is even more so as I still believe that humans as a species evolved to be judgemental, most people do notice you if you act or look strange and often reject you for being different or faulty because there is vast quantities of proof through history to validate it.