Many people struggle with shyness, but approximately two percent of the population suffers from shyness so severe it brings about extreme social inhibition. In avoidant personality disorder. the extreme shyness and fear of rejection make it difficult for some people to interact socially and professionally.
Personality disorders are long-lived patterns of behavior that cause problems with work and relationships. Avoidant personality disorder is characterized by a lifelong pattern of extreme social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and extreme sensitivity to rejection. People with avoidant personality disorder may avoid work activities or decline job offers because of fears of criticism from others. They may be inhibited in social situations as a result of low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. Additionally, they may be preoccupied with their own shortcomings and form relationships with others only if they think they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful to these individuals that they will choose loneliness rather than risk trying to connect with others. About two percent of the population, equally divided between the sexes, has this disorder.