Personality Disorders
Personality is the qualities and traits of being a specific and unique individual. It is the enduring pattern of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors -- it is how we think, feel, make decisions and take actions. Personality is determined, in part, by our genetics and also, by our environment. It is the determining factor in how we live our lives.

A personality disorder is a severe disturbance in the characterological constitution and behavioural tendencies of the individual, usually involving several areas of the personality, and nearly always associated with considerable personal and social disruption. Personality disorder tends to appear in late childhood or adolescence and continues to be manifest into adulthood.

Individuals with personality disorders have more difficulty in every aspect of their lives. Their individual personality traits reflect ingrained, inflexible, and maladaptive patterns of behaviors that cause discomfort and impair an individual's ability to function. They are

less likely to have happy marraiges
less likely to be successful parents
less likely to function as an effective teamm player at work
more likely to have psychiatric and medical disorders
more likely to have a poor response to psychiatric and medical treatment
more likely to get in trouble with the law
more likely to be generally miserable

Having a personality disorder means you are not the kind of person who can adapt smoothly to the normal give-and-take of everyday life. Instead, you expect the world and people to change for you rather than being able to adjust to the requirements of different situations and relationship. You behave in a rigid and inflexible way that perpetuates vicious cycles and fulfills your worst prophecies. You misperceive or filter out new information that does not support your expectations. Then you act in a way that elicits just those responses from others that will make your negative expectations a reality. You generally do not take responsiblity for your own life and feelings, instead you tend to blame others. You lack sufficient coping mechanisms to be adaptive and deal with everyday problems and stressors.

Avoidant Personality Disorder
Avoidant personality disorder (APD) ís considered to be an active-detached personality pattern, meaning that avoidants purposefully avoid people due to fears of humiliation & rejection. It ís thought to be a pathological syndromal extension of the “normal inhibited” personality, which ís characterized by a watchful behavioral appearance, shy interpersonal conduct, a preoccupied cognitive style, uneasy affective expression & a lonely self-perception (Millon & Everly). According to this view, the avoidant pattern seems to range ín varying degrees along a symptomological continuum from mild to extreme. In mild cases, a person may be said to be normally shy, whereas extreme cases indicate personality disorder.

It should be noted that many more people have avoidant styles as opposed to having the personality disorder. The major difference has to do with how seriously an individual's functioning in everyday life is affected. The avoidant personality can be thought of as spanning a continuum from healthy to pathological. The avoidant style is at the healthy end, while the avoidant personality disorder lies at the unhealthy end.

Avoidant Personality Style Versus Avoidant Personality Disorder
Style Disorder
Comfortable with habit, repetition, and routine Prefer the known to the unknown Exaggerate the potential difficulties, physical dangers, or risks involved in doing something ordinary, but outside their usual routines
Close allegiance to family and/or a few close friends; tend to be homebodies Have no close friends or confidants or only one-other than first-degree relatives; avoid activities that involve significant interpersonal contact
Sensitive and concerned about what other think of them Tend to be self-conscious and worriers Unwilling to become involved with people unless certain of being liked; easily hurt by criticism or disapproval
Very discreet and deliberate in dealing with others Fear being embarrassed by blushing, crying, or showing signs of anxiety in front of other people
Tend to maintain a reserved, self-restrained demeanor around others Reticent in social situations because of a fear of saying something inappropriate or foolish, or of being unable to answer a question
Tend to be curious and can focus considerable attention on hobbies and avocations; however, a few engage in counterphobic coping behaviors Tend to be underachievers, and find it difficult to focus on job tasks or hobbies