• Alexander Iversen
  • Christine Dahl
  • Thea Katarina Nøtsund Leidenfelt
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Avoidant Personality Disorder is a common personality disorder worldwide, compared to other personality disorders. The prevalence of this disorder is approximately 2,4% (DSM-V) in general, however in Scandinavia it is about 5% and thus more frequent here than in other places. Despite the prevalence of the disorder in Scandinavia it has not been given too much attention in psychiatry, although several studies show that the disorder has a significant consequence for the quality of life and mental health of the individual. Individuals suffering from Avoidant Personality Disorder are characterised by disabilities, low self-esteem, psychosocial inhibition and interpersonal problems in relation to partners, family members and other social relationships. Individuals suffering from Avoidant Personality Disorder often live isolated and lonely lives. We wish to increase the awareness of this mental disorder based on its prevalence and the complex problems the individual suffers from as a result of it. In addition, one of us has first-hand experience with an individual suffering from this disorder and is familiar with some of the therapeutic challenges that arise in the treatment of this disorder.

We have chosen the following thesis: What characterizes Avoidant Personality Disorder, and how can we understand the development and prevalence of this disorder based on biological-, development- and social psychological theories? Which treatment methods exist today, and can Mentalization Based Therapy be used in treatment of individuals with Avoidant Personality Disorder? Based on this thesis, this paper will explain the aetiology of the disorder based on biological predispositions, predisposing factors through development and perpetuating social factors. In our opinion, the aetiology of the disorder should be used as a basis for the choice of treatment. We also look at different forms of therapy currently in use in connection with the disorder, and examine whether these are compatible with the aetiology of the disorder, including Psychodynamic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and Interpersonal Therapy. We also recommend Mentalization Based Therapy as a good alternative to the existing treatment models.

Mentalization Based Therapy is a new form of therapy, which has been given much attention lately. The therapy is developed by John, G. Allen, Peter Fonagy and Anthony W. Bateman. The key element in this form of therapy is to develop the individual’s ability to mentalize. A process in which the individual implicitly and explicitly interprets their own and others’ behaviour, associated with intentional mental state of minds such as assumptions, needs, desires, emotions and perceptions. The reason why we suggest this form of therapy in treatment of Avoidant Personality Disorder is based on the aetiology of the disorder which is characterised by impaired mentalization abilities and reduced affect regulation as a result of predisposing and perpetuating factors. An individual suffering from this disorder may have an innate sensitive temperament that is affected by troubled relationships through its upbringing and which is upheld by the individual’s complex self-awareness. We believe that these are some of the factors causing the problems arising from Avoidant Personality Disorder, and that they are expressed through impaired mentalization and reduced affect regulation.

We base our statement on the following five arguments; Mentalization Based Therapy is based on both group therapy and individual therapy; Mentalization Based Therapy intervenes with both emotions and cogntion; Mentalization Based Therapy is an integrated form of therapy which includes other therapeutic techniques and the aetiology of the disorder; Mentalization-based Therapy intervenes with all the significant subareas mentioned in the prototype model for Avoidant Personality Disorder developed by Theodore Millon and Roger Davis; Mentalization Based Therapy applies an understanding for anxiety that is more compatible to the aetiological factors of the disorder, compared to other treatment forms.

This paper is a theoretical discussion where the aim is to discuss the complexity of the mental disorder by examining how the disorder can be interpreted and treated. We hope that this theoretical discussion can be used in establishing future empiricism in connection with Mentalization Based Therapy for Avoidant Personality Disorder, as a study of the effect of this type of treatment for Avoidant Personality Disorder is yet to be carried out.
LanguageNorwegian
Publication date28 May 2015
Number of pages207
ID: 213036553