In this blog post, we will be exploring “INFJ personality type and Avoidant personality disorder,” we will be discussing the INFJ personality type and their characteristics, what avoidant personality disorder is along with its signs and symptoms, and what kind of a relationship can be present between people with INFJ type of personality and avoidant personality disorder.
What is the link between INFJ personality type and Avoidant personality disorder(AVPD)?
The link between INFJ personality type and avoidant personality disorder is established as they have certain overlapping signs of personality traits that are common for INFJs and people with AVPD.
This does not mean that every INFJ has an AVPD and also, not every AVPD is an INFJ.
Let us explore this further in the later sections, but before that let us understand the INFJ type and what avoidant personality disorder is to better understand the link between these two.
MBTI and INFJ personality type
There are a number of tests based on personality and one such test was developed by Myers and Briggs who were influenced by Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. They wanted the theory to have real-world applications and hence developed what is called the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI).
The test was first created in the 1940s and was updated and developed during the next two decades. Today MBTI is one of the most widely used instruments to study personality. Based on the inventory questions and the answers people give, MBTI classifies people into 16 personality types.
One such personality type among the 16 is the INFJ personality type. INFJ is Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. The personality type is sometimes referred to as advocate personality. It is considered a rare personality type. Let us now discuss a few key characteristics of people having the INFJ personality type.
Characteristics of INFJ
INFJs often appear to be quiet, sensitive, and caring, they can be also be found listening intently to someone’s ideas or concerns. They are very receptive to people and want to help others reach a certain level of understanding.
INFJs are not afraid of difficult personal challenges; in fact, they are quite complex and have a rich inner life that few people are privy to.
They are aware of ethical issues and think long and hard about them and feel for people. Because they seem so soft and reserved at first, they can surprise others with their assertiveness when one of their values is threatened or questioned.
They are actually quite different from their calm exterior as they are quite complex of their own inner world. Because INFJs are such complex people, they may be reluctant to interact with other people who may not understand or appreciate them, and thus are difficult to get to know.
Although they would try to get along with others and support them in their goals, they are very true to their own value system and do not follow others on a path that does not feel authentic to them. If they feel their values are not being respected, or if their gut feelings/intuition tells them someone’s intentions are not pure, they are likely to pull away from them.
In the further sections, we will be seeing how some people with INFJ personality type have a few symptoms of avoidant personality disorder. But why does the connection exist? While INFJs can be very compassionate and loving, they are also extremely private.
When they feel frustrated, they tend to close off. They might just withdraw from society without any explanation for a long time. They hate confrontations and tend to avoid them. In fact, in a situation where they are required to confront a person, they are unable to do so as they feel paralyzed.
They are also very sensitive and at times come off as someone who does not have much tolerance for conflicting opinions. They are vulnerable to criticism and do not tend to take it well. Once they make their decision or arrive at a conclusion, they stick to that and might come off as being stubborn.
What is Avoidant personality disorder (AVPD)
Avoidant personality disorders come under cluster C personality disorders which is characterized by shyness, anxiousness and sensitive to criticism.
What are personality disorders?
Characteristics of a person, coping styles, and forms of interaction in the social environment emerge in childhood and usually crystallize into established patterns in late adolescence or early adulthood. These patterns form the personality of the individual: the set of unique traits and behaviours that characterize the person individually.
For a personality disorder to be diagnosed, the person’s enduring pattern of behaviour must be pervasive and inflexible, as well as stable and long-lasting. It must also cause clinically significant distress or impairment and be manifest in at least two of the following areas: cognition, affect, interpersonal functioning, or impulse control.
People with avoidant personality disorder are very uncomfortable and inhibited in social situations, self-critical, and extremely sensitive to negative criticism and evaluation (APA, 2013).
Signs and symptoms of AVPD
The symptoms of people with avoidant personality disorder are as follows;
- They feel the need to be approved of
- They lack the feelings of pleasure in activities (Anhedonia)
- They are anxious about saying or doing the wrong thing
- Anxious in social situations
- Sometimes they can tend to be being “people-pleasers” as their main goal is to avoid conflict
- They keep their interactions in work settings to a minimum and also avoid the jobs which require them to communicate effectively.
- They also Avoid intimate relationships or even share intimate feelings with others
- They are self-critical and self-isolate which causes social inhibition.
- They are easily hurt and might have trust issues
- They frequently misinterpret situations and might have a negative view of the world.
INFJ and avoidant personality disorder
INFJ is a personality type and AVPD is a personality disorder. Firstly, just because you have an INFJ type of personality on the MBTI inventory, that does not mean that you have an avoidant personality disorder.
The reason why we study them together is because some people diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder have the INFJ personality type. For a diagnosis of avoidant personality disorder to be given at least four of the seven specific symptoms must be present
Similar to that of people with INFJ personality type, you try to avoid any situations with a lot of people. This is due to the fear of criticism, rejection, or disapproval.
Characteristics of INFJ and AVPD viewed together
- You do not like to get involved with other people unless you know they like you.
- You are scared of humiliations and hence avoid any kind of relationship.
- Your thoughts revolve around feelings of criticism.
- You try to avoid or escape social situations because you feel inadequate.
- Inferiority feelings, unappealing, and inadequacy revolves in your head.
- You rarely take part in new activities or avoid taking personal risks because you’re afraid of embarrassment.
- You can be diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder only if the symptoms are clinically significant and impair your emotional and social functioning.
Being sensitive to criticism, avoiding conflicts and confrontations, withdrawing from social situations for a very long time without proper explanation, etc., are probably a few similarities we can find between people with INFJ personality type and people diagnosed with AVPD.
However, INFJs are also different from AvPD diagnosed people in a lot of ways. Though people with INFJ personality type seem like they do not have a lot good relationships, this is not true. They have extremely loving and caring when it comes to the people they trust.
They have long and valued conversations. Though they have a small circle, their bond with them is quite strong. They are quite different from what they seem exteriorly. This true nature is only known to their close group.
From the above points we notice how there may be a few negative characteristics of AvPD personality disorder which match those of a person with INFJ personality.
However, there is no research or it does not make any sense to assume that all people with INFJ personality can have avoidant personality disorder and similarly, not all people with avoidant personality disorder, have INFJ personality type.
Management and treatment of AVPD
If the people diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder, do not take the required treatment, they may isolate themselves and might impair their personal, professional, and social life. Getting treatment might not change the personality but it will help manage yourself better in situations where you otherwise would not.
As mentioned, treatment of avoidant personality can be difficult because the symptoms are permanent. However, individuals with an avoidant personality disorder often want a truly close relationship. This desire can motivate the person to find and follow a treatment plan.
- Psychotherapy or talk therapy
Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for avoidant personality. Psychodynamic therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are two specific types of therapy commonly used to treat this condition. Psychodynamic therapies, including exploring the unconscious factors behind inferiority complex, help people resolve past conflicts that may be causing current problems. The focus of CBT, on the other hand, is to identify and correct problematic beliefs and behaviors. People, irrespective of their personality type can benefit from these forms of psychotherapy. It can help people get over their self-critical view and sensitivity. Social skills training has also proven to be an effective method for helping individuals reduce the effects of AVPD or introversion on their life.
Schema therapy is another addition, in which an individual is guided through the process of recognizing maladaptive thought patterns and frameworks. The recognised patterns are then modified through proper guidance. This form of therapy has also proven to be helpful.
No specific medication has been prescribed for the management of symptoms of avoidant personality disorder. However, the symptoms of anxiety can be treated with medications.
- Self-help Support groups
Self help groups or support groups are one of the best options for people who would like something informal. They help people find and connect with others having similar experiences. This lets them hear the perspective of others which may motivate their own change.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): What is the link between INFJ personality type and Avoidant personality disorder(AVPD)?
Is avoidant personality disorder curable?
Avoidant personality disorder like any other personality disorder is not curable. It can only be managed with proper care and guidance.
How serious is an avoidant personality disorder?
People with this disorder suffer from extreme shyness over the entire life time. It impairs their ability to form trustable and genuine bonds
Is INFJ personality type rare?
INFJ personality type is one of the rare personality types according to the MBTI inventory. Less than 1.5 percent of the general population fit into this type.
What is the dark side of INFJ?
At times INFJs become extremely uncooperative. If they are offended, chances are they may never communicate with you again. They also tend to “disappear” without a warning for many days. These are sometimes considered the dark side of INFJs
Can someone with avoidant personality disorder have a relationship?
Even though they try to keep people away, they crave genuine bonds and would want to be in a relationship. However, they may feel insecure frequently. Their relations might lack the required emotional connection.
What is it like living with an avoidant personality disorder?
Living with avoidant personality disorder is difficult as other perceive you as shy and someone who keeps to themselves. This can affect your friendships and potential relationships as it is difficult for you to behave appropriately in social situations
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
Herbert, J. D. (2007). Avoidant personality disorder. In W. O’Donohue, K. A. Fowler, S. O. Lilienfeld (Eds.). Personality disorders: Toward the DSMV. Los Angeles: Sage Publications