The American Psychiatric Association's DSM-IV-TR, a widely used manual for diagnosing mental disorders, defines AvPD as a "pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
Shows restraint initiating intimate relationships because of the fear of being ashamed, ridiculed, or rejected due to severe low self-worth.
Is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations
Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing
AvPD is often confused with antisocial personality disorder; clinically, the term antisocial denotes a disregard for society's norms and rules, not social inhibitions.
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