What is the difference between Avoidant Personality Disorder and Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder? To tell you the truth, as I research it, passive aggressiveness is a form of avoidant personality. The two could go hand in hand. The one thing about AvPD is it is actually listed in the medical book that therapists go by for diagnosing, the DSM-IV. Passive aggressive personality disorder has been removed as the definition was too vague. They are still working on it, but in the meantime so many of these disorders seem to overlap.
Like Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder, AvPD often stems from childhood, although it’s usually first noticed in early adulthood. It is associated with perceived or actual rejection by parents or peers during childhood. (This sounds so much like the causes of passive aggression) Just like the passive aggressive, many people diagnosed with AvPD have had painful early experiences of chronic parental and/or societal criticism or rejection. The need to bond with the rejecting parents or peers makes the person with AvPD hungry for relationships, but their longing gradually develops into a defensive shell of self-protection against repeated criticisms.
Avoidant Personality Disorder and Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder are so close, that one doctor, Psychologist Theodore Millon identified four subtypes of avoidant personality disorder. One of those was the-
* conflicted avoidant – including negativistic (passive-aggressive) features
The conflicted avoidant feels ambivalent towards themselves and others. They can idealize those close to them but under stress they may feel under-appreciated or misunderstood and wish to hurt others in revenge. They may be perceived as petulant or to be sulking.
How many of us live with someone just like that? LOL
People with AvPD are preoccupied with their own shortcomings and form relationships with others only if they believe they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful that these individuals will choose to be lonely rather than risk trying to connect with others. This would help to explain the reason we feel so emotionally disconnected from the passive aggressive.
The symptoms of AvPD are:
* Hypersensitivity to criticism or rejection
* Self-imposed social isolation
* Extreme shyness or social anxiety in social situations, though feels a strong desire for close relationships
* Avoids physical contact because it has been associated with an unpleasant or painful stimulus
* Avoids interpersonal relationships
* Feelings of inadequacy
* Severe low self-esteem
* Mistrust of others
* Emotional distancing related to intimacy
* Highly self-conscious
* Self-critical about their problems relating to others
* Problems in occupational functioning
* Lonely self-perception
* Feeling inferior to others
* In some more extreme cases– Agoraphobia
* Utilizes fantasy as a form of escapism and to interrupt painful thoughts
Except for the “Agoraphobia” part, doesn’t that sound like it could be taken right out of the passive aggressive‘s handbook? LOL. Many of them may try to hide their feelings of inadequacy by being overbearing or aggressive, just like many people with inferiority complexes will cover it by being arrogant and obnoxious. Notice the “emotional distancing when it comes to intimacy” and “avoids physical contact because it is associated with pain”. Doesn’t that sound like “no sex”?
One thing I hadn’t thought about, but now I remember seeing it, is that people with AvPD excessively monitor their own internal reactions when they are involved in social interaction. However, people with AvPD may also excessively monitor the reactions of the people with whom they are interacting. The extreme tension created by this monitoring may account for the hesitant speech and taciturnity of many people with AvPD; they are so preoccupied with monitoring themselves and others that producing fluent speech is difficult, which would explain why sometimes it takes a passive aggressive some time to put the words together to strike out. Now, I don’t see this particular trait often in passive aggressives to the point of interrupting their speech, but I can see where it would come into play. Of course they are always monitoring our reactions so they can see if they are getting to us or not.
And last, but not least, the similarity when it comes to treatment. As it is hard to “fix” the passive aggressive because they won’t admit anything is wrong, or they manipulate the therapist, people with AvPD will start avoiding treatment if they lose trust in the therapist or feel a fear of rejection. There again, treatment actually being effective is pretty slim.
Filed under: avoidant personality disorder, causes, passive aggressive, passive aggressive behavior, passive aggressive parent, passive aggressive spouse, personality disorders, self esteem, trust | Tagged: avoidant personality disorder, AvPD, causes of personality disorders, definition of passive aggressive, passive aggressive personality, passive aggressive relationships, passive aggressive spouse, personality disorders |