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J Clin Psychol. 2019 Apr;75(4):664-680. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22740. Epub 2019 Jan 4.

Struggling to be a person: Lived experience of avoidant personality disorder.

Author information

1
Group Therapy Team, Aust-Agder County Outpatient Unit, Sorlandet Hospital, Arendal, Norway.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
3
Department for Research and Development, Clinic for Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Norway & Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
4
Aust-Agder County Outpatient Unit, Sorlandet Hospital, Arendal, Norway.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To better understand the subjective lived experience of persons diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder (AVPD).

METHODS:

Persons with an AVPD (N = 15) were interviewed twice with semistructured qualitative interviews and analyzed through interpretative-phenomenological analysis. Persons with first-hand experience of AVPD were included in the research process.

RESULTS:

The superordinate theme, "struggling to be a person," encompassed two main themes. The first, "fear and longing," incorporated the subthemes "longing for connection," "dreading to get close" and "being alone, for better or for worse." The second main theme, "a doubting self," included the subthemes "feeling insecure" and "searching for a sense of self."

CONCLUSIONS:

The findings shed light on how the reflexive selves of people with AVPD might struggle with sense-making, sense of agency, and identity. This study underscores how impaired tacit knowledge of social behavior can hamper the process of being a person in relation to others.

KEYWORDS:

avoidant personality disorder; qualitative research; sense of self; service-user involvement; subjective lived experience

PMID:
30609024
DOI:
10.1002/jclp.22740

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