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I Hate Parties and Don't Criticize Me!

Published on August 19, 2008

Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone. -- Paul Tillich

Avoidant Personality Disorder (APD) is a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation. This pattern begins early in life and is present in a variety of contexts. This sounds very much like Social Phobia, doesn't it? There is considerable overlap between the two and, in fact, they may be different theories for the same condition. Avoidance is also seen in Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. However, if we examine the evidence carefully we will notice that in the latter disorder, avoidance begins after one starts having panic attacks. The avoidance is not so much of social situations per se; rather, it is to avoid triggering a panic attack.

Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder, is an anxiety disorder characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation — such as a fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, or eating or drinking in front of others — or, in its most severe form, may be so broad that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people. As you see, Social Phobia focuses on anxiety, though the phobic individual may avoid the situations that trigger anxiety.

1. She/he is easily hurt by criticism or disapproval.

2. She/he has one close friend or confidant other than first degree relatives.

3. She/he is unwilling to get involved with people unless he/she is certain of being liked.

4. She/he avoids social activities or occupations that involve significant interpersonal contact.

5. She/he is reticent in social situations because of the fear of saying something inappropriate or foolish, or being unable to answer a question.

6. She/he fears being embarrassed by blushing, crying or showing signs of anxiety in front of other people.

7. She/he exaggerates the potential difficulties, physical dangers or risks involved in doing something outside his/her usual routine (but otherwise ordinary).

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