Originally Posted by UltraShy
APD is just another name for severe social anxiety. Just like social anxiety is just another name for social phobia.
Every month or two this issue comes up and after years of discussion I've yet to see how APD differs from SA, other than APD is a more specific name since it signifies severe SA, while merely saying SA doesn't tell you how severe it is.
I perfectly match the definition of APD, but my official diagnosis is: "Social phobia, severe, with generalized anxiety. DSM 300.23"
I disagree, actually. I think you're right about "garden variety" social anxiety being more like a phobia, where in that person's case, it's the social situation
that's inherently frightening.
With me, on the other hand, it's all about the fear of rejection. For me, the prospect of being less than 100% liked after any encounter feels like a fate worse than death. I feel my heart beating in my head even when I'm checking replies to my forum posts on here, and if anyone has a less than completely approving post, I take it really, really hard. I feel like nothing less than my entire self-worth is on the line with every single interaction, no matter how trivial.
I think the biggest difference between me and somebody with classic SA, is that somebody with classic SA is too preoccupied with the terrifying feelings they're going through to really care in that precise moment whether the other person likes them or not. If they try to recall what happened later, they probably wouldn't remember anything about how the other person was reacting at the time. But for me, it's ALL about the other person. I scrutinize them like a hawk, reading way too deep into every little gesture, or flick of the eyebrow, looking for anything that can be interpreted as a sign of rejection. I can often recall in searing detail the expressions on everyone else's faces, their body language, what they said, the tone in which they said it, etc. I couldn't care less how I
feel in that moment. The person I'm talking to might be acting like a complete jerk, but I'm usually too busy bending over backwards to be as pleasant as possible and saying whatever I think they want to hear for it to even occur to me to take offense. "I'm" only relevant to the extent that I can shape the other person's reactions to me by acting a certain way, or saying things they want to hear. My feelings don't count.
So the reason I'm afraid of social situations isn't because I find social situations inherently frightening, it's because the stakes are so high because I feel like I'm defending my whole self-worth every time. When the stakes are that high, of course you're going to get nervous. And oftentimes rather than put myself through such a stressful ordeal, it's simply easier to avoid social contact altogether. But for somebody with "classic" SA, I don't think there's nearly this much calculation involved. They just find social situations inherently terrifying, like people afraid of spiders are inherently afraid of spiders. They aren't afraid because they've made some emotional cost/benefit calculation, it's simply a reflexive response. I don't find all social situations terrifying--for example, it makes a big difference if I'm in group therapy with other people with similar issues, because we all come in with vulnerabilities, so there's very little risk of being judged or condemned. I feel completely at ease in that environment. But people with classic SA just wouldn't feel comfortable around ANY strangers, even if those strangers were other people with SA themselves. Because, again, it's the social aspect that terrifies them, not the fear of rejection/judgment aspect.
So yeah. I think APD is a mix of factors, mainly an intense, abnormal need to be liked, and an extremely low self-esteem and sense of self-worth, which makes me deeply insecure and constantly suspicious that other people don't like me--or maybe they like me now, but if they only got to know "the real me" they would have no choice but to recoil in disgust. So, I'm hypersensitive to rejection, AND I'm inclined to see signs of rejection everywhere because when people do like me, I literally can't believe it. That's a killer combo.