Anxious Avoidant Personality

Courtesy: Mrs. Bijulakshmi, Counselling Psychologist

Anxious avoidant personality

Mr. A is an intelligent person. He is described as being aloof and distant by his friends and colleges. He never comes for parties or for gatherings where he is likely to meet people on an intimate level. He has turned down a promotion because it entitled a possible change of place, with increased responsibilities. He reasoned that he will not be able to handle the situations and that he was comfortable in his present situation. His wife and kids accuse him of not spending time with them even when on holidays. He avoids situations that are new to him and cannot be persuaded to try new things. His wife says, “I will not like it, I will not be able to do it” are his usual words to anything new. He plans his routine very carefully and gets intensely anxious, angry or upset for even minute changes.

Mr. A says, he has been like this all his life. He reports that his parents have always insisted that everything be perfect and that disrespecting or hurting anyone was a great sin. Being alone most of the time due to his family conditions and fearing physical punishment from his alcoholic father, he had always been scared of consequences of even simple things, like forgetting how in school and had always feared that his friends might think bad about him. Mr. A went on to say that although his wife is a very good and caring person, he does not feel comfortable, talking about his workday or how he feels because he fears of hurting her or that she will form a bad picture of him. He says that he ensures that he has done everything for his family’s comfort.

We might know about a person like Mr.A. He has what we would medically term as an ‘Avoidant personality or anxious avoidant personality (AAP)’. Statistics report that roughly 1 in 100 will have AP. Usually, persons who had at least one family member with personality characteristics will have a high probability of having AAP. A person might develop the avoidant personality straits as a result of his growing environment and studies have proven that children raised in a strict and punitive environment are more prone to develop this personality. People who are naturally fearful or shy as children are also more likely to develop this personality.

Pt with this type of personality is more prone to develop depression, anxiety, intense fear of objects or situations (phobia) and have an increased suicidal risk. Having AP severely restricts a person’s growth and well being and affects his personal relationships. They are also more likely to develop substance abuse/dependence.

A person with AAP can be helped by counselling, therapy, and medicines to control their anxiety or depressive symptoms. They can be helped to overcome their fear and to develop good communications skills.