What is an Avoidant Personality Disorder?
Avoidant personality disorder (APD) is described under the cluster C list of the DSM-5’s personality disorders. Individuals with avoidant personality disorder tend to avoid or diminish social interaction due to fears of rejection and feelings of personal inadequacy.
The United States tends to have a higher level of prevalence, estimated at 2.4%. The United Kingdom presents an estimated 0.8% (Trull, Jahng, Tomko, Wood, & Sher, 2010). It has been poorly studied and often underdiagnosed. Nevertheless, I have been seeing individuals with avoidant personality features in the consulting room with high levels of suffering.
The suffering involved
Individuals with this condition often appear shy, guarded, and unsure as to how to behave. They tend to behave constrained, to hesitated and doubt whether they are behaving as expected or in the correct manner. They are so afraid of being poorly judged or criticized, they often maintain safe distance. They tend to avoid socializing unless certain of being liked. Thus, either they stay at home or they go places with someone they know.
- Self-view. They are constantly self-critical, and tend to diminish their talents.
- Behavioral style. They can go from being extremely shy and guarder, to being the sole of the party.
- Cognitive style. Prone to hypersensitivity and feelings of inadequacy, and individual with avoidant personality disorder both thrust for ongoing vigilance and recurrent withdrawal.
- Interpersonal style. Worries, fear, and self-doubt appear as a constant triangulation of factors that can bring an enormous level of suffering in their relationships with others. A variety of strategies assist them to manage their sense of worth, as well as their interaction with others.
I discuss further the specifics of this condition in my book, Personality Perspectives on Gaze, Body Image, Shame, Judgment and Maternal Function: Being & Belonging.
 Other estimates for the United States are antisocial, 3.6%; borderline, 5.9%; dependent, 0.5%; histrionic, 1.8%; narcissistic, 6.2%; obsessive compulsive, 7.9%; paranoid, 4.4%; schizoid 3.1% and schizotypal personality disorder 3.9% (NESARC, 2015).