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Personality Disorder by Avoidance: extreme shyness?

Personality Disorder by Avoidance: extreme shyness?

August 11, 2022

The known as Personality Disorder by Avoidance it is a type of personality disorder characterized by the avoidance of social relations taken to the extreme. To summarize it in a very superficial way, it is a disorder in which the shyness produced by the fear of giving a bad image to others leads the person to isolate himself and avoid interacting with others.

Then we will see the symptoms, causes and treatments used to improve the well-being of people diagnosed with this disorder.

What is Personality Disorder by Avoidance?

Also known as Anxiety Personality Disorder, or simply as an avoidance disorder, this disorder has as a fundamental characteristic the strong social inhibition. This means that people with this behavior pattern always try to maintain a very discreet profile, not attract attention and as long as they can, they stay out of the others.

In the DSM IV diagnostic manual, belongs to group C of personality disorders , the one of the anxious disorders, together with the Personality Disorder by Dependence and the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder of the Personality.


The main symptoms of Personality Disorder by Avoidance They are the following. In any case, it must be clear that the diagnosis of this disorder (and the rest of psychological disorders) can only be made by a mental health professional, examining case by case.

1. Deliberate isolation

People who have this disorder they are secluded in their homes or in their rooms for much longer periods than normal, and as far as possible avoid relating to other people.

2. Anxiety in social contexts

When there are people nearby, especially if they are unknown, it is frequent that signs of anxiety appear , such as increased heart rate, tremors and speech difficulties (which helps to avoid talking). Therefore, their social skills are bad.

  • Related article: "The 7 types of anxiety (causes and symptoms)"

3. Extreme sensitivity to criticism

Negative evaluations of others directed towards oneself have devastating effects on people with Personality Disorder by Avoidance, which makes them feel humiliated and rejected with great ease.

4. Low self-esteem

Another characteristic of these people is that they have very little confidence in their abilities , and a clear sense of inferiority is reflected in their beliefs.

  • Related article: "10 keys to increase your self-esteem in 30 days"

5. Escapist fantasies

These people tend to fantasize frequently about how they would like their lives to be .

6. Distrust

The fear of giving a bad public image makes one tend to distrust others in anticipation of revealing their own inferiority and the others try to take advantage of the situation .

7. Constant state of surveillance

Avoidance disorder is associated with a continuous state of alert , by which the environment is examined to discover potential threats.

8. Avoidance of physical contact

This kind of experiences have been associated with unpleasant experiences , distressing or painful, so try not to repeat them.

Differential diagnosis and similar disorders

Very often, Personality Disorder by Avoidance occurs in people with agoraphobia; about 15% of patients diagnosed with the second also present the first. Regarding people with social phobia , about 30% of them also have avoidance disorder.

These diagnostic categories belong to anxiety disorders, whose basic difference with Personality Disorder by Avoidance is that in this second person focuses much of his fear and concern in the reactions of others instead of basically directing them towards himself .

However, the relationship between avoidance disorder and social phobia is still highly debated, and in many cases it is difficult to distinguish them, although some studies attribute a somewhat lower level of anxiety to social phobia.

  • Related article: "Social phobia: what is it and how to overcome it?"


Like any mental disorder with complex characteristics, it is estimated that the root of the Personality Disorder by Avoidance is multicausal, and therefore it is not realistic to attribute a single mechanism of appearance to it. However, in the absence of further research in this regard, it is considered that early experiences of isolation and lack of affective ties during childhood and adolescence it has a very important role.

Having learned the person that the rejection is the normal experience that comes "by default", assimilates the idea that the rejection of others is inevitable and will appear in every social interaction.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Harlow's experiment and maternal deprivation: substituting the mother"


The psychological treatments for Personality Disorder by Avoidance are based on cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of intervention allows modify beliefs in which low self-esteem is based, and at the same time offers a context in which to learn new habits to socialize, causing anxiety and fear to subside.

In the same way, a training in social skills It also has beneficial effects and improves the chances that the person will learn the skills necessary to find work and gain autonomy.

Regarding the use of psychopharmaceuticals , these are only used when it is essential and to treat symptoms linked to anxiety and associated symptoms.

Shyness or Narcissism? Avoidant Personality Disorder (August 2022).

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