PTypes - Personality Types
PTypes Neurotic Solutions Paranoid

Neurotic Solution: Avoidant Type 

The strategy of the Avoidant solution can be interpreted from the discussion by John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris of the Sensitive personality style.

Avoidant Personality Disorder
Sensitive Personality Type
Resignation Solution 



Neurotic Needs

Compulsive Attachments

Compulsive Aversions

  • acceptance
  • being close to others
  • living up to one's intellectual and vocational potential
  • a sense of mastery from accomplishment
  • introspection
  • sensitivity
  • hyperawareness of feelings
  • low expectations
  • remaining on the fringes of groups
  • unconditional love
  • family environment
  • affection
  • respect
  • the known
  • reading
  • fantasy
  • imagination
  • creation
  • familiarity
  • a small circle of family and friends
  • defined roles
  • vocational roles
  • mentors
  • emotionally secure environment
  • approval
  • privacy
  • deep, lifelong personal attachments
  • home
  • long-term relationships
  • domestic life
  • facade
  • predictability
  • routine
  • repetition
  • habit
  • rejection
  • being hurt
  • being unsuccessful
  • getting involved
  • being socially inept
  • being incompetent in academic and work situations
  • being criticized
  • being demeaned
  • being found uninteresting
  • being worthless
  • being unlovable
  • unpleasant feelings
  • doing new things
  • unpleasant situations
  • unpleasant thoughts
  • being evaluated
  • being discovered to be a "fraud"
  • being put down
  • attracting attention
  • new responsibilities at work
  • seeking advancement
  • failure
  • reprisals
  • negative evaluation
  • the unknown
  • criticism
  • disapproval
  • a wide social network
  • celebrity
  • new situations
  • strangers and unfamiliar people
  • public speaking



Neurotic Solution

American Psychiatric Association (1994, pp. 664-65)

Social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.

  • avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection;
  • is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked;
  • shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed;
  • is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations;
  • is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy;
  • views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others;
  • is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing.




Neurotic Beliefs and Attitudes 

Rationalizations and reinforcements of the compulsive attachments and aversions and the neurotic solution that they engender.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur M. Freeman and associates (pp. 359-60) 

  • I am socially inept and socially undesirable in work or social situations.          
  • Other people are potentially critical, indifferent, demeaning, or rejecting.          
  • I cannot tolerate unpleasant feelings.          
  • If people get close to me, they will discover the "real" me and reject me.          
  • Being exposed as inferior or inadequate will be intolerable.          
  • I should avoid unpleasant situations at all costs.          
  • If I feel or think something unpleasant, I should try to wipe it out or distract myself—for example, think of something else, have a drink, take a drug, or watch television.          
  • I should avoid situations in which I attract attention, or I should be as inconspicuous as possible.          
  • Unpleasant feelings will escalate and get out of control.          
  • If others criticize me, they must be right.          
  • It is better not to do anything than to try something that might fail.          
  • If I don't think about a problem, I don't have to do anything about it.          
  • Any signs of tension in a relationship indicate the relationship has gone bad; therefore, I should cut it off.          
  • If I ignore a problem, it will go away.



Idealized Image

The particular "solution" is idealized (Horney, 1950, pg. 22)

John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (pp. 180-81):

Sensitive people come into possession of their powers when their world is small and they know the people in it. For this commonly occuring personality style, familiarity breeds comfort, contentment, and inspiration. These men and women -- although they avoid a wide social network and shun celebrity -- can achieve great recognition for their creativity. Nestled in an emotionally secure environment, with a few dear family members or friends, the Sensitive style's imagination and spirit of exploration know no bounds. With their minds, feelings, and fantasies, Sensitive people find freedom.


  1. Comfortable with the familiar. . . .prefer the known to the unknown. They are comfortable with, even inspired by, habit, repetition, and routine.

  2. Concerned. . . .care deeply about what other people think of them.

  3. Circumspect. . . .behave with deliberate discretion in their dealings with others. They do not make hasty judgments or jump in before they know what is appropriate.

  4. Politely reserved. . . .take care socially to maintain a courteous, self-restrained demeanor.

  5. Role oriented. . . .function best in scripted settings, vocationally and socially: when they know precisely what is expected of them, how they are supposed to relate to others, and what they are expected to say.

  6. Private. . . .not quick to share their innermost thoughts and feelings with others, even those they know well.



Attributes of the Idealized Image


  1. Familiarity: comfortability with the familiar, the known, habit, repetition, routine, predictability; family orientation: strong family ties, closeness, home life, family values; within the family and with familiars: warmth, giving, openness, spontaneousness, likability, friendliness, loyalty, kindness, confidence, self-confidence, a sense of humor, and strong opinions.
  2. Concern, empathy, care, awareness, cautiousness, reserve, reticence; highmindedness, refinement, idealism; reliability, steadiness, effectiveness, thoroughness, concentration, responsibility.
  3. Circumspection, thoughtfulness, deliberativeness, discretion, ability to concentrate; attentiveness, watchfulness, alertness, vigilance, anticipation, bravery, courage, protectiveness.
  4. Polite reserve, courtesy, self-restraint, politeness, coolness, well-mannered, conforming, self-effacing, self-discipline, self-control.
  5. Role-seeking (scripted settings, what is expected, defined role, role-play).
  6. Privacy, creativity, artistry, imagination, spirituality.


Neurotic Pride


Neurotic Claims


Neurotic Search for Glory

 The neurotic search for glory is the comprehensive drive to actualize the idealized self. Besides self-idealization it consists of the need for perfection, neurotic ambition, and the drive for vindictive triumph. The need for perfection functions in the personality as, what Horney called, "tyrannical shoulds."

Tyrannical Shoulds






American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed., text revision. Washington: Author.

Aaron T. Beck, Arthur M. Freeman and Associates (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

Terry D. Cooper (2003). Sin, Pride, and Self-Acceptance: The Problem of Identity in Theology and Psychology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Karen Horney (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W. W. Norton.

John M.Oldham and Lois B. Morris (1995). The New Personality Self-Portrait. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam.

Home - Conscientious personality type - Summary - Correspondence
Personality Disorders - Search - Comments - Index
Copyright © 1998-2006 Dave Kelly

Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. (See Copyrights for details.)


Print this page