Avoidant personality disorder

Steffan Richter, a 32-year-old male, recently was diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder. The psychiatrist who made the diagnosis recommended that Mr. Richter begin psychotherapy, but Mr. Richter declined after learning that group therapy may be indicated at some point during treatment. To Mr. Richter, psychotherapy would be almost unbearable, but talking about his issues in a group setting would be impossible.

Since graduating from college 10 years ago, Mr. Richter has worked as a mailroom clerk. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting, Mr. Richter is qualified to apply for other, higher-paying positions within the company. However, he chooses to maintain his current position, as his present job responsibilities greatly limit his need to interact with other people. Several years earlier, he was offered a supervisory position; however, he declined the offer. The promotion would have increased his salary significantly, but the job responsibilities included a great deal of interaction with the mailroom team and administrators.

During lunchtime, the mailroom shuts down operations so all employees can eat their meals together in the staff lounge. Because he finds the lunchtime social interaction in the staff lounge to be forced, unpleasant, and overwhelming, Mr. Richter remains in the quiet mailroom and reads a book during his break. Company policy restricts employees from eating in any areas other than the staff lounge, and employees are forbidden to leave the building during their work shift. As such, Mr. Richter never eats lunch during the week.

Because Mr. Richter is extremely shy and quiet, several of his coworkers refer to him as “the invisible man.” He is also very underweight and some of his coworkers tease him about his size. Although he finds his nickname and the teasing to be cruel and humiliating, Mr. Richter does not share his feelings; instead, he resolves to stay as far away as possible from the group. Several of his coworkers have invited him to join the group for social activities outside of work, however, he declines their invitations, as he knows his coworkers will only further demean and embarrass him. To avoid being humiliated or rejected, Mr. Richter does not build friendships at or away from his workplace.

Question 1

How are the effects of avoidant personality disorder impacting Mr. Richter’s occupational and professional advancement?

Question 2

In what ways does avoidant personality disorder impact Mr. Richter socially, both in and out of his workplace?

Question 3

How does avoidant personality disorder affect Mr. Richter’s nutritional habits?

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