Exposure Anxiety was first written about in Nobody Nowhere in 1991 as a syndrome of involuntary and compulsive avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses. A large section of my first text book, Autism; An Inside Out Approach in 1996, was dedicated to setting out strategies for managing, even reversing Exposure Anxiety. In 2003 I wrote the first full book on Exposure Anxiety.
Published in 2003, Exposure Anxiety; The Invisible Cage of Involuntary Self Protection Responses, is the first ever text book by a person diagnosed with autism specifically focusing on co-morbid anxiety and impulse control disorders effecting those on the autistic spectrum. It offers an innovative new approach to working with some of the most challenged people on the autistic spectrum.
Drawing on an ‘Indirectly-Confrontational’ approach, this 336 page book gives case studies and a wealth of strategies to reduce and progressively overcome the compulsive and involuntary avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses of Exposure Anxiety. Exposure Anxiety is an ‘Invisible Cage’ that challenges the person to either side with it and identify self with their own compulsive self protection responses.
There’s is considerable overlap between Exposure Anxiety and conditions such as Pathological Demand Avoidance (first diagnosed in 2008), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (first in the literature around 2002), Avoidant Personality Disorder and Dependent Personality Disorder. With this book actually written from an Inside-Out Approach, by someone who actually lived their entire life with and ultimately managed then overcame the condition, those looking for strategies for managing and reducing these conditions may find this book extremely useful.
As someone who has lived with chronic EA all my life this certainly different to PDA who may tolerate an audience (in a social context) I do not while with PDA is triggered by DEMANDs. I am triggered by EXPOSURE which is completely different in terms of motivations.
Exposure Anxiety, Personality Types & “Triggers”
People with EA have a lack of sense of “self” this it true people with EA may see their condition as the very barrier to showing other’s themselves. I like my own company so naturally being solitary that isn’t a problem, also a lack of sense of self can be seen in people who are mercurial and fear loneliness (real or otherwise) those personality types I have.
If you wanted to want, wanted to be, wanted to co-exist but your EA was crippling you from doing so because of being noticed, awareness of existing etc, that would mean you were in a hidden battle a battle happening when nbeing triggered by the co-existense of other people, with the WANT and the EA being in polar opposites and it being seen as ego dystonic.
ego-dystonic [e″go-dis-ton´ik] denoting aspects of a person’s thoughts, impulses, attitudes, and behavior that are felt to be repugnant, distressing, unacceptable, or inconsistent with the rest of the personality. See also ego-syntonic.
In EA you can have chronic, diversion, retaliation responses which in my case were running away, freezing, selevtive mutism (once functional speech came) and shutting down when people were expectant of response, expectant of a reaction and expectant of one’s own existence. Did that mean I would hurt the people I liked? Yes of course and then feared loss through these actions.
A message of hope would to understand EA its mechanics and to get the best out of the person and who they want to be.
Paul Isaacs 2018