Week 6 in the Personality Disorder Parade has us studying Avoidant Personality Disorder. (There are only four more PDs to go!) People with Avoidant PD are characterized by social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.
There are 7 diagnostic criteria for Avoidant PD, of which a person only has to have 4 to have a diagnosis. Without much ado, here they are:
1) Avoid work or school activities that involve significant interpersonal contact because of fears of criticism, disapproval or rejection. These people might even decline a new job promotion just because the additional/new responsibilities could put them under the microscope for criticism. They are anxious about reacting to criticism with blushing or crying.
2) Avoid making new friends unless they are certain they will be liked and accepted without criticism. For a person to be deemed friend-worthy, they have to pass stringent tests to prove they uncritically accept the person with Avoidant PD. These individuals won't join in group activities without repeated and generous offers of support and nurturance. Interpersonal intimacy is only established after the other person is put through the ringer to prove their acceptance. These individuals don't have a large social support network to help them through crises.
3) Shows restraint within intimate relationships for fear of being exposed, ridiculed, or shamed. So even once they decide to enter into a relationship with someone, these individuals still withhold intimate feelings or have trouble talking about themselves with a partner.
4) Preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations. They will feel extremely hurt if someone is only mildly critical. These people are the proverbial wallflowers, but they like it that way. The less attention on them, the better, because the less likelihood of them being degraded ot rejected. So these individuals tend to be shy, quiet, and inhibited. They don't speak out much for fear others would say they're wrong. They react strongly to veiled or even suggestive mockery or sarcasm, taking it extremely personally. Sadly, these individuals long to be active participants in social life, but fear placing their welfare in the hands of others.
5) Inhibited in new interpersonal situations because they feel inadequate. Situations involving strangers are particularly difficult.
6) Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others. Individuals with Avoidant PD have extremely low self-esteem. This starts at an early age. In childhood, these individuals would be shy and isolated, with a fear of strangers and new situations. While part of that is common in all children, in those who grow up to have Avoidant PD, the shyness actually increases in the adolescent years where social relationships are of the utmost importance.
7) Reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing. They live a restricted lifestyle because they need certainty and security. They may exaggerate the potential dangers of ordinary situations
Only about .5-1% of the general population have this personality disorder.