Your new colleague walks into office. He holds his head down and walks fast to his cubicle, sinking with relief into his chair. Over the next few days, you notice that he hardly speaks to others and answers in monosyllables. There are times you catch him looking longingly at your group when you have lunch. He notices you looking at him and then scurries away like a mouse on the run. “Cat got his tongue?” jeer some of your colleagues. Some others feel he might just be shy and needs a good shaking up. After weeks of trying to draw him out, you all decide to just leave him to enjoy his own company. However, you might be surprised to find out that your colleague might be suffering from a behavioral disorder called Avoidant Personality Disorder. This is characterized by the sufferer noticeably avoiding social situations as well as close interpersonal relationships, because of the fear of being rejected or ridiculed. The sufferer also suffers from inadequacy, lack of self-esteem and is mistrustful of others. Read on to know the symptoms of avoidant personality disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder
- The sufferer tends to live alone and try to avoid contact with strangers as far as possible.
- They might enjoy contact with family and friends, but withdraw very easily. A simple joke at their expense can cause disproportionate anxiety.
- The sufferer tends to fantasize about situations that they would like to experience, but that they avoid in actuality. For example, the person might dream of being the centre of attention in a large group where he/she is universally liked.
- They turn their backs on opportunities due to anxiety of performing well. However, they are successful in the opportunities that they embrace.
- The sufferer avoids any activities that require a lot of interpersonal contact. At times, in the job environment, the person might mark off his/ her self-reviews as “bad” just in order to avoid a promotion. This is if the new job responsibilities involve interacting with others.
- If the person is not sure of being accepted, he/ she will be reluctant to participate in any social activity. There should be repeated requests to participate and a lot of encouragement, before this is finally accepted.
- The person is often anxious of being criticized or ridiculed. This could often cause issues within relationships.
- The sufferer views himself/ herself as socially inept. He/ she tend to view self as inferior to others or unappealing.
- The person foresees possible humiliation, and therefore is reluctant to take social risks. For example, he/ she could go into a nightclub, but would rather stay in a corner and talk than to get out on the dance floor and have fun.
- There is at least one phobia that they have which would be connected to earlier appearances of anxiety. This could be an animal or an object (in some cases, a human). The object of anxiety usually unleashes a fresh anxiety attack.