What is Avoidance Personality Disorder?

What is Avoidance Personality Disorder?

Personality disorder due to avoidance

Many people resort to avoidance in more than one occasion to eliminate the anxiety generated by certain situations. However, the avoidance that occurs in more serious disorders such as social phobia, is a type of widespread avoidance and occurs at a behavioral, emotional and cognitive level. These people avoid virtually all contact with others due to the great anxiety they feel. That is, they are not solitary people who prefer to have few contacts with others, but who want the affection, friendship and acceptance of others but have a fear of rejection so deep that it prevents the beginning or deepening of friendships. Usually consider themselves socially inept and see others as superior, thinking that they would reject or criticize them if they knew them. They want to get close to other people, but they have few social relationships, especially few intimate relationships. They are afraid to initiate contact or respond to the initiative of others to approach them because they are sure that they will eventually be rejected.

Origin of avoidant personality disorder

People with this disorder have a pattern of dysfunctional thinking which is the basis of their avoidant behavior. These beliefs reflect the impression they have of themselves and others.

It is possible that children have been criticized or rejected for an important person for them (father, mother brother, partners).

This led them to develop certain thinking patterns about themselves, such as: "There is something defective or bad in me," "I am inadequate," "I don't like anyone," "I don't fit," "I am different and unpleasant," and over others: "They will reject me, they don't care," they don't care. "

Fortunately, not all people who are rejected or criticized by others develop an avoidance disorder. For this to happen they must have interpreted what happened through certain assumptions and beliefs, such as: "If my mother treats me like that, it is surely because I am a bad person," "If others reject me it is because I am defective," "I have no friends. because I'm ridiculous, "" If my parents don't even like me, it's impossible for others to like me. "

And it is that avoidant people tend to think that everyone will react in the same way as those who criticized them, since assume that there was a real reason for such criticism, and that this motive is something inherent to them (something bad or defective). Therefore, they fear continuously that others discover these defects and reject them. In addition, they are afraid of not being able to bear the discomfort caused by rejection, they consider it as something terrible that can bring them really disastrous consequences. This is due to these schemes were formed in childhood, a time when there is a greater dependence and need for others to survive.

This fear leads them to avoid relationships and social situations. They interpret rejection in a totally personal way, as if it were caused solely by their personal shortcomings: "He has rejected me because I am worthless," "He thinks I am an idiot." Seeing it that way, being a very intense discomfort and to avoid this discomfort, it also avoids social situations. Likewise, the negative interpretations he makes about the motives of others reinforce his basic beliefs. That is to say: "He has rejected me because he thinks I am an idiot; that corroborates my idea that people think badly of me and that I am an idiot." This establishes a circle of thoughts that feed themselves while maintaining time.

Characteristics of the avoidant personality

Excessive self-criticism

They often think of themselves in a negative way and almost never question these thoughts, since they are taken for granted from the beginning: "I am bored," I am useless "," I am not attractive "," I am not interesting "," I am a failure, "" I am despicable. "They also often have a series of negative thoughts before social gatherings:" I will not know what to say, "" I will make a fool of myself, "I will not like it." These thoughts can sometimes be fully aware, while other times the person does not have a complete awareness of them., but being mainly the discomfort that they produce and that pushes them to avoid the situation to alleviate this discomfort (anxiety, depression).


Since they think they can't like anyone, they tend to hide their true personality from others. To do this, they prevent others from getting close enough to them to discover what they think they really are: weird, inappropriate, stupid, etc. and they think that "When they know me, they will realize that I am inferior," "I have to prevent people from discovering how I really am."

Lack of assertiveness

When they establish relationships with someone they avoid confrontations and are not assertive. They try to be pleasant to this person at all times, to do that they believe that others want and always feel about rejection: "If I do something that displeases you, it will break our friendship", "If I make a mistake, it will reject me".

They avoid negative emotions

The person avoids at all costs thinking about issues that cause emotional distress. Tolerates negative emotions, such as anxiety, badly, so that when you feel them, you immediately look for a way to get distracted and not think about it. He believes that if he allows himself to feel these negative emotions, he will feel bewildered, he will not be able to withstand the discomfort, he will sink, he will not be able to function, he will be blocked, etc. When he realizes his avoidance, he also tends to criticize himself: "I am lazy." He does not realize with unpleasant emotions that avoidance is the way he sees the photo.

Negatively evaluate the reactions of others

They have trouble realistically evaluating the reactions of others, tending to interpret a neutral or even positive reaction, as negative. They can look for positive reactions even in people who have no importance in their lives, such as shopkeepers, and want to make a good impression around the world, since for them it is extremely important that nobody thinks badly of them. This is due to his belief that "If someone thinks badly of me, his criticism must be true." In this way, they fear any situation in which they can be evaluated by others, for negative reactions and even neutral ones confirm their own belief that they are worthless and do not like anyone. They do not use internal criteria to judge themselves, but instead rely on what they think others think of them (and also believe that others see them negatively). And even when they are presented with evidence that others like or are accepted, these people tend to discard them and not believe them. They even believe that if someone accepts them, it is because they do not really know them or because they have succeeded in deceiving them: "He believes that I am competent so that I have deceived him or he does not really know me." "If he knew me more, I would know how awkward I am."

They have many problems to change

Although they feel a great desire to have close relationships with others and to change their lives, they are not able to do so.. They feel alone, empty and dissatisfied, they want to get a better job, make friends, have a partner, and, in general, they know what they have to do to achieve these goals, but they consider the price to be too high: an emotional pain too intense to bear it. For this reason, they find multiple excuses for not doing what is necessary to achieve their goals: "If I do it, I will feel bad," "I will not like it," "I am tired," or simply "I will do it later." Moreover, they do not believe they are really capable of achieving their goals and anticipate failure. It is also common for them to fantasize about their future. They think that they cannot achieve their goals for themselves, but that someday something will happen that will change their lives, that things will get better without having to do anything. Even in therapy they expect the therapist to "cure" them without making any effort. Since they look like ineffective people, this healing must come from outside.

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