Distancing: Avoidant Personality Disorder

Distancing: Avoidant Personality Disorder

Distancing: Avoidant Personality Disorder

Distancing: Avoidant Personality Disorder

Synopsis

Kantor focuses on a misunderstood but common condition that brings severe and pervasive anxiety about social contacts and relationships. He offers psychotherapists a specific method for helping avoidants overcome their fear of closeness and commitments, and offers a guide for avoidants themselves to use for developing lasting, intimate, anxiety-free relationships.

Fear of intimacy and commitment keeps avoidants from forming close, meaningful relationships. Types of avoidants can include confirmed bachelors, femme fatales, and people who form what appear to be solid relationships only to tire of them and leave with little warning, often devastating their partners/victims. Kantor takes us through the history of this disorder, and into clinical treatment rooms, to see and hear how avoidants think, feel, and recover. He offers psychotherapists a specific method for helping avoidants overcome their fear of closeness and commitments, and offers a guide for avoidants themselves to use for developing lasting, intimate, anxiety-free relationships.

The avoidance reduction techniques presented in this book recognize that avoidants not only fear criticism and humiliation, but also fear being flooded by their feelings and being depleted if they express them. Acceptance is feared as much as rejection, because avoidants fear compromising their identity and losing personal freedom. Kantor describes the different therapeutic emphasis required for the four types of avoidants, including those who are withdrawn due to shyness and social phobia, such as people who intensely fear public speaking; those who relate easily, widely, and well, but cannot sustain relationships due to fear of closeness; those whose restlessness causes them to leave steady relationships, often without warning; and those who grow dependent on- and merge with- a single lover or family member and avoid relating to anyone else.

Excerpt

In today's world, avoidance, distancing, removal and isolation have become so widespread that people assign greater importance to their possessions than they assign to their relationships. This is not surprising. What will startle us, however, is the extent to which laypersons, clinicians, and researchers alike have overlooked, misunderstood, or downplayed avoidance, even though, like sex or hunger, it serves as a primary determinant of behavior, creates as much interpersonal difficulty as schizoid remoteness, depressive withdrawal, and borderline ambivalence, and causes as much social distress as ignorance and poverty. Avoidants themselves (I use the term avoidants to refer to patients with an Avoidant Personality Disorder) think they are happy as things stand, or, if they feel unhappy, blame their unhappiness on their stars or on their fate. Victims of avoidants remain convinced that something is wrong with them, and try to do better, when it is the avoidant who has the problem and should be the one making the improvements. Psychotherapists treating avoidants often have too narrow a view of what causes and constitutes avoidance. In the realm of what causes avoidance, they often focus exclusively on the avoidant's fear of criticism, humiliation, and rejection, without considering other equally important reasons to be avoidant, such as the paranoid tendency to assume criticism, humiliation and rejection in their absence, or the histrionic tendency to rage mightily over the most insignificant and unimportant of interpersonal events. In the realm of what constitutes avoidance, they focus almost exclusively on two groups of avoidants: individuals who are timid and shy in their relationships, and individuals with a Social Phobia such as public speakers with stage fright. Virtually . . .

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