Touch is a fundamental communication between people. It allows us to communicate compassion better that words or facial expression.

Touch is the most important element of bonding and compassion between humans.

There are neurochemical effects of skin to skin touch. Compassionate touch is critical for the brain and the body to be healthy. We need human touch to be well.

We need  human touch in order to have good mental health. People who are touch deprived can develop mental illness.

People with mental illness can become worse from a lack of pleasant  physical touch.

Compassionate touch reduces stress hormones, including cortisol. When someone touches your skin in a pleasant way, it makes you feel calmer and safer. Anxious feelings  can be reduced and your nervous system can be calmed. 

People deprived of pleasant physical touch  can develop high levels of stress hormones.

High levels of stress hormones on a regular basis will cause a condition of severe anxiety disorder. Depression is often a condition that goes hand in hand with anxiety disorders.

“When a person receives a pleasing touch, the hormone oxytocin is released in the brain. Oxytocin is linked with human bonding, socializing and maternal instincts. It helps alleviate anxiety and fear and is critical in trust-building. There is even a specialized part of the nervous system in our skin, known as tactile C fibers, that is specialized to pick up compassionate touch.” Pracha Touch

Physical touch can promote healing in the body and reduce the likelihood for disease and illnesses.

This includes both physical and mental illnesses. Insomnia can be relieved by the hormone balancing effect of skin to skin touch that is pleasant.

Some people with mental illness may have been touch deprived as infants and as children.

There is research about the necessity of touch for proper development and growth.

There was research by John Bowlby and Renee Spitz, during WW II, about the effect of touch on infants. Infants that were orphans, living in institutional settings were not held by the caregivers.

The lack of compassionate touch caused a 75% mortality rate. Also, the infants had a lower weight and length than infants of the same age. They did not develop properly due to the lack of being comforted. The compassionate touch of the mother is comforting to an infant and reduces fear and anxiety of the baby.

Babies need to have their nervous systems regulated by the mother. Infants do not  have the capacity to regulate their own nervous systems. Infants even regulate their breathing with their mother’s breathing. Babies that sleep with their mother have a dramatically lower incidence of infant death syndrome.

If the baby forgets to take a breath, the mothers breath on the baby’s face will cause the baby to draw in a breath. The baby will be calmed by the sound of its mother’s heartbeat.

“In some of the most dramatic new findings, premature infants who were massaged for 15 minutes three times a day gained weight 47 percent faster than others who were left alone in their incubators – the usual practice in the past. The massaged infants also showed signs that the nervous system was maturing more rapidly: they became more active than the other babies and more responsive to such things as a face or a rattle.” Daniel Goleman New York Times

The United States is one of the most touch deprived countries in the world. In studies, we come up second to England

In the 1960s, psychologist Sidney Jourard, studied the conversations of friends in different parts of the world. He observed friends as they spent time together in a café.

In England, the two friends touched each other zero times. In the United States, there was an average of 2 touches during the conversation. But in France, the frequency of touch was 110 times per hour. And in Puerto Rico, the friends touched each other an average of 180 times!

It is possible that the mental health crisis in the US has something to do with the fact that we are a “No-touch” culture.

Toxic People Spew Poison

People that care about you…and care about others in general, do not use bullying tactics to get their agenda met. They do not intentionally overblow, contort, and reframe events.

Caring people do not have a ridiculously overblown reaction to a little thing that you did “wrong” ( against their personal rules) and then tell all of your friends, family or co-workers that you victimized them.

Someone who wants to be your friend does not refuse to hear your side of a disagreement, shift blame for their over reaction onto you and then put malicious words in your mouth that you never said.

Toxic people pretend to be your friend until they feel threatened by you, have no more use for you, or you refuse to agree with everything they say…and do everything they want.

Narcissists see themselves as more entitled than you to everything , whether you deserve it more or not.

Narcissists want you to admire their greatness and submit to being their minion.

If you stop catering to their ever-changing whims, they will gather their other minions to turn against you….and destroy things you care about…..friendships, your reputation, your job, your marriage, your business, your self esteem, or your ability to move forward with your life.

They won’t change, even if they tell you they will. If they turned against you or discarded you once …they will do it again…and harder.

Once you begin to feel your self esteem go down every time you talk with someone, it is time to back away.

Once you begin to notice that every time you have a conversation with them you have to go back over the entire thing in your head to figure out what the hell just happened….it is time to back away….or run if you can..

Relationships should involve two people…..

Two different sets of opinions that are respected

Two different sets of personal boundaries that are respected

Two sets of ideals and thoughts that are respected

Two different schedules that are respected

Two different ways of feeling about situations that are respected

Two different sets of dreams , skills, talents and aspirations that are supported and respected

Two different individual people that are respected

Get the idea?

Narcissists are poisonous.

Run.

 

 

 

 

 

Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder Similarities

Avoidant Personality Disorder

 “afflicting persons when they display a pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, extreme sensitivity to negative evaluation”  Wikipedia

This part of avoidant personality is associated with social anxiety disorder. Many people that have APD also have social anxiety disorder. There are feelings of fear of being embarrassed and “not fitting in” due to inability to understand and respond correctly to social cues.

So, some people with APD will avoid social situations in order not to feel the extreme anxiety associated with certain types of social interaction. Different people are different about what kinds of social situations trigger their anxiety. Some people with social anxiety disorder, like myself, are very good at one on one interactions, even if they are with strangers.

Avoidant Personality Disorder causes avoidance of more things than just social interaction. Also some people with APD are not afraid of social situations at all. It is other things that provoke anxiety attacks.

APD will cause people to have anxiety attacks related to things that are threatening to them. Anything that makes them feel powerless, inadequate and unable to handle the task, will be avoided. The problem that occurs is that avoiding things that need to get done will sometimes cause more problems for the APD sufferer.

These are things that end up happening, when someone with APD avoids doing things that are important to get done.

1. Fear of opening envelopes that may contain bills, notifications from insurance, Notifications from authorities, etc.

Bills become delinquent. Fees are added on and make the bills higher. Credit is adversely affected. Accounts are closed. Business relations are injured.

More anxiety is created because these things are the very things that the person was afraid of coming true in the first place. They do not want to see money they owe that they cannot afford to pay. They do not want to feel scolded by whatever it says inside the envelope.

2, Avoiding answering and making phone calls.

There can be an extreme phobic fear of making answering the phone. There is a fear of having a panic attack, if you answer the phone. You miss getting certain information that may be about things you need to take care of’

Making phone calls can be impossible. People with social anxiety disorder do not feel that they know how to handle conversations on the phone. Again, different people are different and will avoid different kinds of calls.

Some people become incapacitated to make any phone calls at all. Email can be a good coping skill for this. I often use email and text to interact with family members and certain other people. I am perfectly comfortable talking to my best friend / boyfriend on the phone. I always answer the phone when I see it is him. So for me, it is not a fear of the phone, but a fear of being dominated by people who are aggressive or more assertive than myself.

I wrote a post about being assertive for the kindness blog. I was researching this topic in order to help myself to become better with this. I am currently working on improving assertiveness skills. I have trouble remembering what I want to say and how to say it, once someone become very dominating in the conversation.

I want to get to the point where I can keep my thoughts together in order to stand up for myself. especially if I am being accused of anything, or if the person is doing something that violates my rights. If you are struggling with the same things then this post may be helpful to you.

3. Avoiding dealing with bills and credit companies. Over time the avoidance makes situations worse and the anxiety continues. The longer things go unattended , the longer the anxiety continues and increases. This makes it harder and harder to take any action.

The first thing that happens is that we are alerted to a problem that requires action on our part. The net thing that happens is that our brains go into a mental anxiety loop. Obsessive running thoughts are so severe when we think about taking action, that we become paralyzed to do anything. We put it off, in order to reduce the feeling id anxiety, self criticism. inadequacy, worthlessness and depression.

Anxiety and depression go hand in hand with both Avoidant Personality Disorder and Social Anxiety disorder. We know that other people can do these things much better and easier than we can. We are aware that something is wrong with us, that we cannot take care of ourselves the way other people can take care of themselves

3. Lack of Self Care.

In the end there is a lack of taking care of yourself, when you have these disorders. Other people take care of things that need to be taken care of  They have learned how to “parent themselves” better than we have.

Mostly these kinds of disorders come out of abuse and trauma in our pasts. Most likely our childhood lacked the proper support and guidance to learn how to “parent ourselves” as adults

Somehow we need to learn how to prioritize ourselves and our needs that have to be taken care of. Survivors of abuse can often fall into prioritizing the needs of others to the point of neglecting our own needs.

One of our needs is to learn how to parent ourselves, stand up for ourselves. We need to learn how to feel deserving of things to go in out favor. Being assertive and taking care of things, that invove dealing with other people is a skill. It is a skill we have trouble with but that needs to be tended to.

These mental disorders are associated with real neurological differences between our brains and the brains of other people. These changes occurred over time, from repetitive behaviors. We may have developed behaviors as a child, that were needed to survive.

Once behaviors are repeated over and over, they become wired into our brains, To override the feeling of anxiety at making a phone call, we have to change our behavior slowly over time. Find ways to be able to make that call, even if it means having a friend hold your hand while you make the call yourself.

We can rewire our brains. I am still learning how but I believe it can be done.

But in the mean time, I am writing this, instead of working on the taxes.

Ok. I am getting back to that now

Annie

and avoidance of social interaction.[2] Individuals afflicted with the disorder tend to describe themselves as ill at ease, anxious, lonely, and generally feel unwanted and isolated from others.[3]

People with avoidant personality disorder often consider themselves to be socially inept or personally unappealing and avoid social interaction for fear of being ridiculed, humiliated, rejected, or disliked. Avoidant personality disorder is usually first noticed in early adulthood. Childhood emotional neglect and peer group rejection are both associated with an increased risk for the development of AvPD.[4]

Social Anxiety / Equality and Awareness

Social anxiety is a fear of social situations. It is a fear of being forced to interact with people who will be less than compassionate and sympathetic with us.

If a person with social anxiety was put into a room with a few people that were very understanding, patient and very kind with them, they would feel comfortable in a matter of minutes.

The people would tell them that they understand and are not going to judge their feelings or behaviors. If the person felt that they could have behaviors that were not the social norm and still be accepted then they would be ok.

Social anxiety is almost a phobia of people who are impatient, judgemental and less than compassionate.

There is a standard of behavior, manners, interactions etc that has been created by the mass population. People expect other to CONFORM to their social rules.

Some people with anxiety, do not understand the rules in all situations. They feel that they will accidentally break a rule and be judged and ridiculed and basically punished.

Other people understand the rules , for the most part (God knows they are always coming up with new ones) but they feel that their anxiety will prohibit them from being able to follow these rules.

Thus there is a fear of our own anxiety or depression causing us to be unable to follow the social norms.

Here is one example. Let’s say I am in a waiting room of a therapist office. There are a few waiting areas but the main room is full of people or it has aggressive verbal people in there.

I am getting more and more anxious and fearful in this room.

The secretary asks me to come up and fill out forms and answer questions. I will lose the capacity to think properly to answer the questions.

There is a point at which , if people are arguing near me, that I can’t even read the words on the papers.

My brain simply shuts the part down that allows me to process written language.

I go into post traumatic stress that is triggered by the aggressive voices in the room. I have flashbacks of abuse , and I have to cover my face with my hand.

If I could simply explain this to someone that I was having extreme anxiety in this room and ask to be moved to a different area then that would be fine and i could complete the paperwork.

But what happens is that the secretary will become impatient that i am taking so long. They will view me as either stupid or uncooperative. I feel that a lot of times I am viewed as uncooperative no matter how hard i am trying to cooperate.

So this anxiety is unbearable and then a new anxiety kicks in. I am afraid of what they think of me based on my behavior. I start to become anxious about the next time i have to come here.

Will they remember me and that I was uncooperative? Will they treat in a way i do not want to be treated when i come here again?

Will they make fun of me or talk about me after I leave?

I do not want to come here again and interact with the same people that saw me in the office. I want to avoid ever coming here again.

So the anxiety that occurs before I leave the house to go somewhere like this, is the anxiety of that type of situation occurring. We feel that we could be triggered by something in a social situation.

I will play out the worst case scenario in my mind, that could happen when I get there. I am so afraid of this occurring that I am already frustrated with the people there for treating me a certain way, before I even get there.

I am already feeling weird, abnormal and embarrassed about the behaviors I will have, before I am even there.

We feel that people will become impatient with us and that will further our state of mental torment. We feel we will do something that will cause these people not to like us and not to want to interact with us.

Why can’t we just act like everyone else?

Because our brain attacks us with these terrifying thoughts and feelings. The fears become overwhelming and shut off other parts of the brain that understand social interactions.

Even if we can sort of access the social rules in our brains, we can’t follow them so neatly. We cry at times that it is not allowed. We have trouble following directions once the brain begins to shut down.

We are no more able to stay focused and follow along with the socially appropriate interactions than a person with a freshly ,broken leg can walk.

We can’t walk. We can’t dance. We can’t feel self-confidence. We can’t stick up for ourselves.

It is a terrifying feeling to be trapped in a triggering environment and to know you are being judged about your less than perfect behavior at the same time.

Social anxiety is about the people who do not understand. I feel like I have a phobia of people who do not understand mental illness.

It is a phobia of having to tolerate an intolerable social situation and not be able to ask for help. It is a fear of being forced to interact with impatient, judgemental people.

I am not sure if this can be fixed. I do not know if some kind of awareness campaign would help people to understand. How would you tell them you need help in order to function in the particular situation?

Maybe some education of the public could help. But the issue would remain of how someone would know that you suffer from social anxiety and what would be done to help.

My goal here is for the people reading this to know that they are not alone.

When you start to feel a panic attack while you are on the phone with someone who is inviting you to a party, you are not alone. When you feel misunderstood while you are trying to explain to them you just don’t feel up to it, you are not alone.

When you wait until midnight to go to the grocery store in order to avoid the crowd, you are not alone.

When you get take-out food rather than risk being triggered sitting in the restaurant , you are not alone.

when you are late for every scheduled thing you ever go to because you afraid to leave the house, you are not alone.

When you try to pretend you are not home when someone knocks on the door, you are not alone.

We are all of us suffering separately but together. If we can connect here and try to validate each other , maybe it will help.

Namaste,
Annie

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