- Those with avoidant personality disorder (APD) feel highly uncomfortable in social settings, for fear of being judged or disliked.
- These individuals also have difficulty communicating with others, are preoccupied with being or feeling criticized, and view themselves as lesser than.
- While it is still unclear what exactly causes APD, the majority of experts agree that biological, social, and psychological factors all play a role.
- Therapy can prove effective for those with APD, so long as they take that leap of faith and place trust in their therapist who will teach them to reevaluate negative beliefs.
- Celebrities who have struggled with APD include the famous Kim Basinger, Michael Jackson, and Donny Osmond.
Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is characterized by an individual’s serious social inhibition and inadequacy, as well as vulnerability to unfavorable remarks or rejection. It’s more than being introverted or inept in situations with other people; those with this disorder have serious difficulty communicating with others and fostering healthy relationships in their everyday. A person with APD may not speak up because he or she is afraid to say something wrong. These individuals fear they’ll blush, stutter, or be embarrassed in some other way. They spend a lot of time anxiously studying others to understand if they are accepted or rejected.
Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), reports that an individual who is diagnosed with APD will experience at least four of the following:
- He or she avoids work activities that include significant contact with others because of their fear of being criticized or rejected
- The individual doesn’t associate much with others unless they’re sure they’ll be accepted and/or liked
- He or she holds back in intimate relationships for fear of being embarrassed or made fun of
- The individual is preoccupied with being criticized, rejected, or disliked in social settings
- The individual views him or herself as socially incompetent or lesser than
- He or she is abnormally reluctant to try new things because they fear embarrassment
On a special note, avoidant behavior might be viewed in youngsters and adolescents, but the diagnosis can’t be made in young kids. This is due to the fact that feeling afraid of strangers, being unskilled in groups of people, and being especially vulnerable to negative comments are all normal behaviors.
What Causes Avoidant Personality Disorder?
It isn’t clear what causes APD, but most experts think it’s due to a combination of biological and genetic factors, social factors (how the individual interacts in early development with family members, friends, and other children), and psychological factors (or personality and temperament, which are molded by the environment, and the coping skills learned in order to deal with stress).
Treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder
People with APD view themselves negatively, await rejection from others, and typically never seek therapy because they fear the therapist won’t like them. However, when an individual does seek treatment, the therapeutic journey can prove successful. The therapist works with the individual to explore and reevaluate their negative beliefs. In addition, the therapist helps the patient to evaluate the risks of dealing with others, and the two work together to modify them. Therapy also helps the person to learn proper social skills—first with the therapist, where he or she can practice how to interact with others. When the individual has the skills to function with others, he gradually begins to enter social situations where he can gain confidence and find that the reality of the situation is much less terrifying than he imagined.
Celebrities Who Have Dealt With Avoidant Personality Disorder
We’re often surprised to find out that an actor or musician has this or that mental illness (such as APD). It seems impossible that these individuals were able to achieve such status and stardom in spite of their disorders. However, when they open up about themselves and their run-ins with mental illness, we realize they’re really just like us. Here are a few celebrities who struggled with APD and still managed to prevail in their careers:
- Kim Basinger, who has starred in numerous box office hits said she had a terrifying fear of speaking in front of her class when she was a kid. This carried into adulthood, as upon accepting an Oscar, she didn’t know how to articulate her speech… even though she’d practiced it for days prior. Basinger says that therapy helps her manage APD, and it enables her to cope in social settings.
- Michael Jackson is one of the most famous singers and entertainers of all time. He lived as a recluse, dressing in costumes when he did go out and didn’t seem to like the public attention he received. He even created a theme park at his house, which he could enjoy without all of the crowds.
- Donny Osmond, revealed in 2000 that he has APD and is severely scared of performing on stage. He sang with The Osmonds before going on to his solo career and always had to struggle with the distress of walking on stage. He was featured in a move regarding severe anxiety called Afraid of People.