Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD), also referred to as the anxious personality disorder, is a life-long pattern that is characterized by marked avoidance of both close interpersonal relationships and social situations due to excessive fear of rejection by others.
According to statistics, approximately 2.5% of the population has AvPD. It appears to affect women and men equally. It typically starts in infancy and childhood and continues into adulthood.
As with most personality disorders, AvPD is usually not diagnosed in people younger than 18 years of age.
- is preoccupied with being rejected or criticized in social situations;
- easily hurt by disapproval or criticism;
- is inhibited in new interpersonal situations due to feelings of inadequacy;
- no close friends;
- exaggeration of potential difficulties;
- reluctance to become involved with people;
- feeling socially inferior, inept, or unappealing to other people;
- avoidance of occupations or activities which involve contact with others;
- unwilling to try new things or take risks since they may prove embarrassing;
- shyness in social situations out of fear of doing something wrong;
- showing excessive restraint in intimate relationships due to the fear of being ridiculed or shamed;
- is unwilling to get involved with other individuals unless certain of being liked.
Note – because of the similarities between avoidant personality disorder and social anxiety disorder, people are frequently diagnosed as having both disorders.
Doctors do not know precisely why someone develops a personality disorder. However, the following may be contributing factors to this condition:
- child neglect – according to studies, an estimated 60 percent of people with avoidant personality disorder suffered from emotional abuse in the form of neglect as children;
- environmental factors;
- emotional stress;
- genetic factors.
For doctors to diagnose AvPD, people must persistently show at least 4 of the following (also, symptoms must have begun by early adulthood):
- they are reluctant to take risks or participate in any new activity because they may be embarrassed;
- they view themselves as socially unappealing, incompetent, or inferior to others;
- they are inhibited in new social situations since they feel inadequate;
- they are preoccupied with being rejected or criticized in social situations;
- they are reserved in close relationships due to the fact that they are afraid of being humiliated or ridiculed;
- they are unwilling to get involved with people unless they are sure of being liked;
- they avoid job-related activities which involve interpersonal contact.
Treatment of AvPD can be a combination of social skills training, psychotherapy, exposure treatment to gradually increase social contact, mindfulness meditation, cognitive therapy, and occasionally medication for any accompanying depression or anxiety disorder which may be present.
Here are 6 famous people with avoidant personality disorder:
#1 Michael Jackson
He was born in Gary, Indiana on August 29, 1958, and entertained audiences nearly his whole life. Michael went on to a solo career of amazing worldwide success, delivering top hits from the albums Thriller, Off the Wall, and Bad.
Despite achieving his goal to be a music performer, due to his authoritarian father, Michael’s childhood was far from happy. Also, people close to him reported that Michael was painfully shy in social situations, which is a characteristic of AvPD.
#2 Ricky Williams
He is an American footballer that played the 12th season in the National Football League.
He started playing college football at the University of Texas, where he was a two-time All-American and won the Heisman Trophy. He also became the 27th player in National Football League history to rush for over 10,000 yards.
Ricky Williams was clinically diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder, social anxiety disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Ricky said he used marijuana as part of his therapy.
#3 Kim Basinger
She was born on December 8, 1953, in Athens, Georgia, the 3rd of five children. Kim made her film debut in the 1981 western drama Hard Country. For her role as Lynn Bracken in the 1997 film L.A. Confidential, Basinger won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Also, she has publically spoken out about her struggle from childhood with AvPD.
#4 Jenny Lawson
She is an American journalist and blogger from Wall, Texas. Jenny went on to author a few successful books, including ”Furiously Happy,” ”You Are Here”, and ”Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.”
Jenny Lawson also used to write an advice column named “Ask The Bloggess” for The Personal News Network until she quit.
She has severe anxiety, depression, occasional depersonalization disorder (occurs when you persistently have a sense that things around you aren’t real), avoidant personality disorder, self-harm issues, trichotillomania, and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).
#5 Lemn Sissay
He is a British author and broadcaster. Lemn wrote five poetry collections: Rebel Without Applause (1992), Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist (1988), Morning Breaks in the Elevator (1999): The Emperor’s Watchmaker (2000), Rebel Without Applause (1992), and Listener (2008).
At the age of 21, he released his first book of poetry, and since the age of 24, Sissay has been a full-time writer.
He has also been diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and alcohol use disorder.
#6 Donny Osmond
He is an American actor, singer, radio personality, and former teen idol. Donny began performing with his older siblings as part of the Osmond Brothers when he was a young child. He made his Broadway debut in the notorious flop Little John Jones, that closed after one performance.
During a 2000 interview, Donny admitted that he had been diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder.