Current Psychiatry Reports

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 89-93

First online:

Avoidant personality disorder and its relationship to social phobia

  • James ReichAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco Medical School Email author 

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This review summarizes past and recent findings in the empiric literature and the evolution of the concepts of avoidant personality disorder (APD) and social phobia (SP). APD is an internally consistent dimensional personality pathology that causes dysfunction that appears to be dimensional rather than a sudden jump in impairment after a certain number of criteria have been met. It has state and trait personality components. Evidence indicates that symptoms are at least partially treatable with psychological or pharmacologic interventions. APD and SP have similar symptoms and treatment response and identical genetics. We can conclude from the empiric evidence that no dividing line exists between APD and SP, with APD merely being the more severe form of the disorder. The best conceptualization is that APD is a dimensional personality pathology that in its attenuated form (SP) resembles an anxiety disorder.