Friday Counseling Issues: Cluster C, Fearful/Anxious

Cluster C personality disorders are characterized by anxious, fearful thinking or behavior. They include avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

avoidant personality disorder

Avoidant Personality Disorder can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The person who has this disorder has probably always felt inadequate, socially shy, and is certain that everyone sees him as a loser.  He’s always picked last when kids are choosing up sides to play a game. It seems as if no one even sees him or notices when he quietly backs away and leaves. People forget his name, or just refer to him as “that round-headed kid.”

We’ve all fallen in love with Charlie Brown.  He mirrors how we feel about our own perceived inadequacies, and we can identify with him easily—unless we’re narcissistic 🙂

The biggest problem here is with the person’s own perception of himself.  Our perceptions become our realities, and it’s no different for the Charlie Browns out there.  Here’s a good comprehensive list of symptoms:

  • Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
  • Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
  • Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations
  • Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
  • Views themself as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
  • Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing

What we believe to be the truth motivates our emotions, words, and behaviors. The more convinced we become that no one likes/wants/appreciates us, the more likely it is that we will behave in such a way that avoids people altogether.We become so self-effacing that we are actually self-erasing.

Treatment can include good talk therapy with a counselor who understand that this is more than just being a little bit shy.  Sometimes an anti-anxiety medication is helpful in the early stages of counseling because it helps the person be more objective about his situation.

I have found that it is very helpful to talk with a client who has this diorder about his own worth and value to the God Who created  him.  Changing his beliefs about himself will start him on the road to understanding how God sees him, and will help him to realize that part of his problem is not so much  a lack of self-esteem as it is a conviction that other people don’t esteem him appropriately.

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