• Wednesday April 8,2020


Insecurity or self-insecurity is in psychology as a counterbalance to self-confidence. Both extremes are an emotional-subjective sensation that is not based on the actual capabilities of those affected. A pronounced self-insecurity meets the criteria of anxiety-avoiding personality disorder, which distinguishes itself from anxiety disorders or social phobias and for whose emergence, besides environmental factors, genetic predisposition is regarded as one of the main causes.

What is the uncertainty?

The term insecurity is synonymous with self-uncertainty in psychology and embodies the antipode of self-assurance.

The term insecurity is synonymous with self-uncertainty in psychology and embodies the antipode of self-assurance. In both cases, it is an emotional-subjective sensation that does not necessarily have to be consistent with actual criteria, such as ability to perform for the individuals concerned.

With marked uncertainty, a self-uncertainly-avoiding personality disorder can develop, which is usually associated with inhibitions in communication and with fear of criticism, rejection, feelings of inferiority and other negative feelings.

The transitions between the feeling of insecurity and the diagnosable self-uncertain-avoiding personality disorder are fluid. A temporary feeling of insecurity in special social situations such as exams, job interviews and public lectures does not meet the criterion of self-uncertainly avoiding personality disorders. As accompanying symptoms, trembling knees, red spots on the face, neck and décolleté, and cold sweat in the skin are frequently observed in such situations.

The differentiation between feelings of insecurity and the existence of a self-uncertainly avoiding personality disorder is important with regard to possible therapies.

Function & Task

Uncertainty, which is almost always accompanied by anxiety, can perform important protective functions. The only prerequisite for this is that uncertainty and anxiety are within tolerable and normal bandwidths.

Fear and insecurity primarily protect against overconfidence and a misjudgment of one's own abilities and own competencies. In particular, when exercising extreme sports and other potentially hazardous private or occupational activities, in the absence of uncertainty, risks can be considered unrealistically low, leading to unexpectedly dangerous and immediately life-threatening situations that could have been avoided.

A certain level of anxiety and insecurity in certain situations activates the sympathetic nervous system, which causes the release of stress hormones and can lead to improved concentration and physical performance. Short-term effective stressors release the two catecholamines adrenaline and norepinephrine, while in chronic stress an increase of glucocorticoids such as cortisone, cortisol and others can be detected.

Catecholamines cause a number of physiologically effective changes that optimally program the metabolism for flight or attack. Glucocorticoids, on the other hand, lead to an increased mobilization of body resources. The increased ability to concentrate promotes creative solutions in crisis situations. This means that perceived insecurity not only has negative aspects but has even contributed to long-term effective improvements beyond its immediate protective effect.

It is only with pathologically increased insecurity and anxiety that negative aspects prevail, which in the longer term can lead to a significant social isolation of those affected.

Diseases & complaints

The protective effect and the performance-enhancing aspects can be reversed if insecurity and anxiety are permanently pathologically increased. A permanently elevated level of stress, also known as distress, causes a number of physiological changes in the body that can lead to serious conditions such as high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, heart attack, generalized weakness, and many other problems. Above all, the immune system suffers from continuous stress, so that, for example, an increased susceptibility to infection sets.

Beyond physiological changes in the body, a permanently elevated level of stress hormones also has a significant impact on the psyche. Concentration and cognitive performance are affected and diminished. You may experience fatigue, depression or burnout, but at the same time you may be at increased risk of developing nicotine or alcohol addiction.

When solving the problems, it must be borne in mind that stressors are not objectively measurable, but that their effects can vary greatly depending on the individual stress tolerance. It would therefore not be expedient to avoid causing stressors, but it is more promising to improve the handling of stressors so that there is an improved stress management with a demonstrably lower concentration of stress hormones.

In connection with pathologically increased and permanently existing uncertainty, a self-uncertainly avoiding personality disorder can occur. It is characterized by the fact that those affected feel subjectively insecure, inferior and unacceptable, but long for affection and acceptance. They suffer from a pathologically increased fear of criticism and rejection and are inhibited in their communication with other people.

The personality disorder causes those affected consciously and unconsciously avoid contacts with people who could cause feelings of rejection and exclusion with them. Their self-esteem is weak and their social contacts are usually limited to a few individuals who are believed to be safe.

The self-uncertainly avoiding personality disorder ultimately leads to social isolation and involves a strict problem avoidance behavior. In many respects, the disease is similar to a social phobia, which, however, is situational and only shows up for special requirements such as exams, job interviews or public lectures.

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