Distancing: A Guide to Avoidance and Avoidant Personality Disorder

Distancing: A Guide to Avoidance and Avoidant Personality Disorder

Distancing: A Guide to Avoidance and Avoidant Personality Disorder

Distancing: A Guide to Avoidance and Avoidant Personality Disorder

Synopsis

While it is not surprising that in today's world avoidance (or distancing) has become so widespread that people assign greater importance to their possessions than their relationships, what is surprising is the extent to which avoidance has been overlooked, misunderstood, and/or downplayed. This book provides an in-depth look at avoidance and Avoidant Personality disorder (APD). The author studies the avoidant in the real world and habitat and evolves a dedicated, eclectic, action-oriented therapeutic approach. Kantor believes it is important to move away from individual components of avoidance, such as fear of rejection or low self-esteem, and to study and treat the avoidant "gestalt" for which the proper treatment is avoidance reduction. Components of the psychoanalytic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, and supportive approaches that involve "doing" or action, are emphasized.

Excerpt

In today's world, avoidance, distancing, isolating, and removal have become so widespread that people assign greater importance to their possessions than to their relationships. This is not surprising. What will startle us, however, is the extent to which scientists and laypersons alike have overlooked, misunderstood, or downplayed avoidance, even though like sex or hunger it serves as a primary determinant of behavior and creates as much social distress as ignorance and poverty. Scientists and the scientific literature provide an essentially two-dimensional picture of the avoidant, a simplified view of an individual who is singlemindedly timid and shy because he is afraid of rejection. This limited, straitjacketing portrayal in turn forms the basis of a similarly limited therapeutic approach that focuses on the avoidant's unassertiveness and low self-esteem. At the same time, this approach overlooks equally important facets of his personality, such as his anger and his almost paranoid hypersensitivity to rejection, so that he imagines rejections that don't exist.

In some ways laypersons and the lay literature portray the avoidant less monochromatically. For example, they describe a much wider range of motivation than mere withdrawal owing to fear of rejection. As an illustration, Melody Beattie (1987) in essence describes "codependent" avoidants who might be said to use regressive dyads to remove themselves from the world. Other authors refer to "commitment phobics" who bolt from relationships as soon as things get serious, and "mingles" avoidants who can meet new people but seem unable to keep the newly formed relationships going. But texts written by and for the layperson have other problems that are just as serious as those presented by scientific texts. Typically, they fail to distinguish true avoidance from normal reserve, on the one hand, and from schizophrenic autism, schizoid disinterest, depressive withdrawal, and borderline ambivalence on the other. As a result, either treatment is suggested for those who don't need it, or the wrong remedy . . .

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