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I'm a 25 year old male, and most people would consider me aloof or snobby unless we somehow became closer friends. Work suffers, friendships are strained or non-existent, and everyday social interactions are draining. Even standing in a cashier line is hard and my frustration with situations can sometimes be very apparent, often resulting in my being considered an asshole.

I've tried therapists and that has not yet worked out, the last guy was uninterested and kept looking at his watch, leaving me hanging often after saying things I wish I'd just kept to myself anyway. I don't talk much or share much of my personal life anyway, and I generally don't talk much with a feeling that anything I have to say is unimportant or ...what's the word... unexperienced, unfounded, lacking.

The worst part of this lately has been seeing a good friend be able to go out and talk to anyone on the street, meet people, laugh and talk, and that's hard for me to do. I get jealous of my friend for being able to do it.

A good friend was once able to help me out in a lot of ways with rational emotive therapy and I think I'm at the point where I have to figure this out using self-help methods but any advice would be appreciated. I've made it a point to say hello and smile...what should I do next?

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Guest ASchwartz

Thank you for the vivid description of how you function and feel in social situations. My most immediate thoughts in relation to what you wrote were three: 1. You experience social avoidance and could be struggling with some type of avoidant personality disorder or some type of social anxiety disorder; 2. You could have some form of ADHD that would explain why you feel so impatient and irritated while in line; 3. You could have both disorders that reinforce one another.

I also had the thought that self help is not the way for you to go because you probably need to learn the social skills and experiences that can help you feel more confident when you are out and, thereby, be less likely to want to avoid situations. Self help is not a bad thing but it can be another way for you to avoid people.

I would suggest you see a therapist and have yourself diagnosed. That way, a teatment plan could be set up for you. I want to add that medication could help if you deal with a lot of social anxiety.

If there is an ADHD that you struggle with it could contribute to social discomfort and withdrawal. In that case, the correct diagnosis and treatment would help you learn to reduce your ADHD symptoms and would help you learn the social skills that many people with ADHD experience.

My bottom line is that it would be important for you to have a consultation with a psychologist as a way of starting to learn about and start to treat the problems you describe.

There is a lot of information on the Mental Help Net web site on these disorders and their treatment.

Don't go it alone.

Allan Schwartz

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Thanks for your quick reply, Allan. I've tried therapists several times and I'm looking for some other option. I stick to my intentions at the cost of comfort, so I'm trying. This jealousy has been frustrating, though.

edit: I'm sure you are right, but I'm feeling rather impatient right at the moment and search for therapists haven't worked out for me in the past. I think I'll look around online or at the book store a bit.

Any tips for finding a good therapist?

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We've written on the topic of choosing a good therapist, so you might want to read that.

In my experience, the best way to find a good therapist is to ask people you trust for referrals. If that isn't an option, you can get other sorts of referrals from local institutions and from the web. Our own zip-code searchable therapist directory is a reasonable place to look, but psychologytoday.com also has a great directory.

Meet several times with a therapist and feel him or her out. What does your gut tell you. You can't make progress in therapy if you don't trust the therapist and that is not something you can will yourself into. It is a kind of chemistry just like with making friends. Some combinations of people work and some don't. It's a little more complicated then that I guess - you can learn a lot from someone you find uncomfortable, but for most people with anxiety problems, they can't even engage if they don't feel safe with the therapist so that becomes the priority.

Beyond a feeling of safety, look for someone who specializes in what your issue is. If you are socially avoident, look for a therapist who specializes in that sort of thing. Look for an anxiety disorders clinic, perhaps. There are links to some anxiety associations which can provide specialized referals on this page, which also happens to contain a podcast worth listening to for someone who might have social anxiety issues.

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Are personality disorders something that eventually we out grow?

http://www.insightpros.com/borderlinepersonalitydisorder/

Any parent would tell you their teenager is unsound.

Took me over 10 years to get over the junk I went through in my adolescence.

When do you separate personality disorders from trial and error socialization?

When I was younger I use to stutter and have social anxiety.....I experience less of that now, but only by trial and error socialization......the socialization I did not get earlier in life due to being around abusive people.

Is therapy a form of forced socialization?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Someguy,

No, therapy is not forced socialization but it does involve learning. The learning is not trial and error because you and the therapist identify the thoughts and behaviors that are distorted and self defeating and replace them with healthier thoughts and ways of reacting and behaving. There are Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavior Therapy both of which are helpful with Personality Disorders. There are also groups that are either DBT or CBT for Personality Disorders. Force is never part of the process.

Thanks for the excellent question.

Allan:)

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  • 2 months later...

I found a therapist that cost $100 per session, and I think this was the right move. Learning about different personality types and identifying my own has helped me a lot in acceptance of different situations and more appreciative of those differences.

According to the test, I'm an INFP personality type and while I already liked myself for the most part (just things I'd like to improve on), this has been insightful in understanding quite a few things, such as what success means to me vs what it may mean to others and breaking away from someone else's idea of success in order to better embrace my own. It has also helped with understanding my own reactions to situations in ways I had never identified before.

Now the plan is to get some of my things in order so I can accomplish some of the goals I have and get back to that "efficient machine in harmony" that I had once felt like before.

My only other concern is cost. Being a student and working at a call center for the time being, I don't have much extra cash to spend.

Thank you!

Joe

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Eightyfiveonions:

Of course it is not the fee that determines if a therapist is good or not. But, the fact that you are feeling helped and are making progress is terrific. Congratulations.

Allan:)

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