Wednesday, April 9, 2008

10/12/04 It has a name

EDIT as I compile these for this new blog: It is interesting to read this so many years later. This was it, the start of my journey that eventually led me to the gut. There is no such thing as avoidant personality disorder. Hubby was right all along. It is just a label they created for various piles of symptoms. There is also no such thing as autism, it too is merely a label we have created to name a set of manifestations. But whatever the label, the source of the problem can be found in the gut. I am happy to have found healing from these issues. I am free; I no longer have to be plagued by them or their label.

October 12, 2004 It Has a Name

So I'm wandering around the internet trying to answer the question, "what the hell is wrong with me?" after once again misinterpreting a social situation and getting my feelings hurt. Why do I always take things so personally and they seem like the end of the world to me? Then I stumble upon it. Avoidant Personality Disorder. My crazy is much deeper than I previously realized. I'm just plain hard wired wrong. There it was, printed out in plain english. The answers to what the hell is wrong with me. For once all the crazy in my life all made sense. The way I interpret the world just isn't real. It all makes so much fucking sense now. My whole life makes so much fucking sense now.

Here are some highlights. These statements describe me with about 90% accuracy. Some of them are more mildly present in my life, the majority are dead on accurate. I marked the ones that really struck a deep cord with me, in bold.

View of Others
Individuals with AvPD view the world as unfriendly, cold, and humiliating (Millon & Davis, 1996, p, 265). People are seen as potentially critical, uninterested, and demeaning (Beck, 1990, pp. 43-44); they will probably cause shame and embarrassment for individuals with AvPD. As a result, people with AvPD experience social pananxiety and are awkward and uncomfortable with people (Millon & Davis, 1996, p. 261). However, they are caught in an intense approach-avoidance conflict; they believe that close relationships would be rewarding but are so anxious around people that their only solace or comfort comes in avoiding most interpersonal contact (Donat, Retzlaff, ed., 1995, p. 49).
Individuals with AvPD tend to respond to low-level criticism with intense hurt. To make matters worse, they become so socially apprehensive that neutral events may well be interpreted as evidence of disdain or ridicule by others (Donat, Retzlaff, ed., 1995, p. 49). They come to expect that attention from others will be degrading or rejecting. They assume that no matter what they say or do, others will find fault with them (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 662).

Individuals with AvPD are "lonely loners." They would like to be involved in relationships but cannot tolerate the feelings they get around other people. They feel unacceptable, incapable of being loved, and unable to change. Because they retreat from others in anticipation of rejection, they lead socially impoverished lives. ,They have immature and unrealistic expectations of relationships; they believe that they can have no imperfections if they are to be accepted and loved. Interpersonally, they are ill at ease, awkward and tense. They experience unremitting self-consciousness, self-contempt and anger toward others(Oldham, 1990, pp. 188-193).
Individuals with AvPD will develop intimacy with people who are experienced as safe. Nevertheless, they will often engage in triangular marital or quasi-marital relationships which provide intimacy while maintaining interpersonal distance. These individuals like to foster secret liaisons as a "fall-back" position in case the key relationship does not work out (Benjamin, 1983, pp. 307-308). As sexual partners and parents, people with AvPD appear self-involved and uncaring (Kantor, 1992, p. 109) as they preserve distance from others through defensive restraint and withdrawal. Even so, these individuals long for affection and fantasize about idealized relationships (DSM-IV, 1994, p. 663).

Individuals with AvPD behave in a fretful, restive manner. They overreact to innocuous experiences but maintain control over their physical behaviors and expression of emotions. Their speech is hesitant and constrained. They appear to have fragmented thought sequences and their conversation is laced with confused digressions. They are timid and uneasy (Millon & Davis, 1996, p. 261).
This diminished ability to pay attention results in mild memory disturbances and a characteristic immaturity. These individuals are distracted by their own extraordinary sensitivity to subtleties of tone and feeling; they are hyperalert to the meaning of emotive communication. Their thought processes are interfered with by flooding of irrelevant environmental details (Millon & Davis, 1996, p. 263).
Individuals with AvPD behave in a stiff, shy, and apprehensive manner that is disquieting to others. The very rejection they fear may be the direct result of other people becoming impatient and uncomfortable with their unremitting tension and inability to accept that they can be a part of interaction without special guarantees of safety. In fact, people with AvPD, overtly or covertly, are seeking others to take the interpersonal risks for them; they are not able to be responsible for their own well-being socially and become a burden on the nurturing and care-taking capacity of those around them. For those who experience severe avoidant symptoms, no amount of protectiveness or gentleness can ease their fear; they will withdraw without explanation and leave behind a general bewilderment about what went wrong.

Avoidants often report having a poor memory particularly for peoples names.
An emerging literature has begun to document the cognitive consequences of emotion regulation. A process model of emotion suggests that expressive suppression (conscious efforts to inhibit overt emotion-expressive behavior), should reduce memory for emotional events. Results from recent studies have supported this.
Since people with APD are consistantly tense & anxious and exposed to emotion-eliciting situations but may exhibit little affect due to the fear that showing their emotions will make them vulnerable to rejection or humiliation (Kantor; Millon & Everly), it is likely that emotion-expressive suppression is an almost constant feature.
The literature on social phobia suggests that the phobics are unable to socialy interact because they are so focussed on their internal reactions. Research on avoidant personality disorder also emphasizes that avoidants are engaged in external monitoring of the other person’s reactions as well.
The excessive monitoring by avoidants together with rigorous expressive suppression may use up a large portion of finite psychological resources resulting in a decrease of memory for the details of the unfolding emotion-eliciting situation.

Avoidant Personality Disorder does not generaly impact on an individuals intellectual or physical capacities. In 'safe' familiar situations they will generally demonstrate no symptoms.
Job seeking can be very challenging because it triggers the individuals basic concerns. The individual will often have a great deal of difficulty effectively presenting their skills and qualifications. They will be awkward and uncomfortable in a job interview. An employer could easily discount the individuals abilities because of the manner in which they present themselves.
In employment they may have a great deal of trouble in new or changing situations. They will have trouble with interpersonal relationships and public speaking. They will tend to be perfectionists but downplay their skills, abilities and accomplishments. They will have a great deal of difficulty with any job that requires them to "sell" or even present their work to a potential customer, or even other co-workers.
Since their standard practice is to avoid situations that elicit their anxiety, they may just not attend important meetings, or be unable to participate in team discussions because they cannot allow themselves to feel part of a team.

So what the hell do I do now? This is much deeper and bigger than I thought. Do I seek out a counselor? a support group? How do I rewire? How the fuck do I rewire?

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