The 10 Personality Disorders: Avoidant Personality Disorder

This post is intended to list characteristics of personality disorders, causes & treatments.

*These are characteristics often observed in a personality disorder though every feature may not apply to each specific personality disorder. Appreciate what is of value to you in this post and leave the rest.

Individuals with a personality disorder often experience chronic, pervasive difficulty with relationships, impulse control, & emotions. The features may be present in childhood, often become prominent in teen years, but often a diagnosis is withheld until adulthood.  Typically, a personality disorder is in sync with one’s ego. Due to this the person may lack self-awareness and externalize the problems associated with their personality disorder. Personality disorders can co-occur.

In order for a diagnosis a person must exhibit difficulty in at least one of the four, (among other criteria specific to the personality disorder);

  • Distorted thinking
  • Problematic emotional responses
  • Over or under regulated impulse control
  • Interpersonal difficulties

Data supports that any person with a personality disorder is more likely to have a substance use disorder. Though, sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate which is causing the other. Personality disorders should be diagnosed with caution.

Personality disorders are grouped into clusters based on common similarities;

Cluster A: Social withdrawal or awkwardness driven by distorted thinking

Cluster B: Dramatic, impulsive and emotional thinking/behavior

Cluster C: Driven by fear

Avoidant Personality Disorder


[Cluster C]


  • Roughly equal among male and female
  • Sensitive to rejection and criticism
  • May avoid work, social, or school related activities
  • Feeling of being inferior
  • Nervous, anxious
  • Hesitant
  • Isolated


  • Low self esteem
  • May study their environment for evidence of rejection
  • Feels socially inept
  • Need to be well liked
  • Might be a people pleaser
  • Fear of intimacy

In memory of every bad thought, every flaw or struggle, every intrusive and destructive belief, every part of me. Written down to acknowledge them and make them go away. Left in the open to remember I survived every single one of them.


  • As a child, may have displayed minimal preference between stranger and parent
  • Lack assertiveness
  • Afraid to talk about feelings
  • Limited intimate relationships

“No one knows the difference between my alone time that I enjoy and the one that’s killing me”


  • Preoccupied with being criticized
  • Reluctant to take risks
  • Commonly co-occurs with agoraphobia and substance use disorder
  • Avoidance is their primary coping mechanism


Genetics, brain chemistry and environmental factors play a role in a person diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder. Often they are shy children and don’t outgrow it. May have experienced ridicule and harsh criticism from caregivers. Lack of nurturing or warmth from caregiver may have contributed.


Therapy & Medication

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy CBT

Schema-Focused therapy | Focuses on unmet needs that have led to the behavioral patterns, goal is to meet needs with healthier skills

Support groups | Help to understand how to relate to others, skill building for social and emotional responses

Group therapy | May find solace in others with environmental factors that contributed

Family therapy | Help family become more supportive and more constructive

Medications | Most common are anti- anxiety, antidepressants & sometimes low doses of anti-psychotics can help control intense fear

“Both men and women of Avoidant Personality Disorder are emotionally silent. The notable loss of intimacy is reported by the spouse of the Avoidant Personality Disorder. These day to day losses are very wearing on the spouse.” Dr. Sandra Smith-Hanen

Kim Basinger is a star who was diagnosed with Avoidant Personality Disorder. She stared in numerous films, including Panic: A Movie About Coping.

Kim Basinger Avoidant

More About Kim Basinger

“They are extreme in their self-analysis at certain times. Nothing, but nothing, escapes their derision. This extends outward. In times of stress, they have little hope of a breakthrough in the wall of negativity.”

Dr. Sandra Smith-Hanen

More on Avoidant Personality Disorder


For the other 9 personality Disorders or other mental health topics visit