Not every reclusive person suffers from social anxiety disorder. Some people just don’t like to mingle. Some people find themselves uncomfortable in social situations and avoid them not so much out of fear, but out of preference .
Personally, I love being home alone. I love not having to explain myself, to persuade others to accommodate my needs, to wonder how I’m judged and not having to figure out my place and my position in unfamiliar surroundings. I’m King in my home and “It’s Good to Be the King”.
Okay, I can see in the preceding paragraph, that these preferences can be limiting. I can see symptoms which are also present in those who do in fact suffer from social anxiety disorder, but I do not regard a preference for solitude necessarily as a disorder.
“I’ve deliberately created a business which enables me to work from my home and avoid interacting with too many people, however as the economy continues to slide and my business model is forced to adapt, I am having some difficulty adjusting to having to interact with other people and my finances are suffering as a consequence.” Should this person be unable to adjust, I believe you would cross the boundary from preference to disorder.
I, like many, really don’t like people as a whole. I find little value in trite everyday conversation. In my youth I had a rich social life. My hormones overcame my discomfort. But as those needs diminished over time, so did my willingness to pay social dues. I would resent having to pay those dues again for the sake of a few dollars, but I could and would do it. I just wouldn’t be happy about it.
I understand extreme social anxiety, but I assert strongly that not everyone who’s chosen to sequestered themselves, suffers from a disorder anymore than those of us who prefer to eat vanilla ice cream suffer from a chocolate anxiety disorder. I personally would just prefer to be alone… most of the time. And I favor Cherry Garcia.
I’m encountering more and more people who have chosen the path of semi-isolation, of adapting their careers and lifestyles to their personal preference of avoiding anxiety producing situations. Perhaps the very fact that social situations produce anxiety, is a manifestation of a disorder, but I don’t think so. We see enough television (news) and have enough negative memories to believe rightly that social interaction has risks. It can lead to conflicts, it can lead to friendships that invade boundaries, obligations which cause resentment and waste a lot of time that can be used for productivity and creativity. Only the individual can decide whether any gain from interacting is worth the price.
As long as it does not limit the quality of one’s life; as long as it does not prevent self actualization and the fulfillment of needs; and as long as it continues to feel like a choice rather than a phobia, creating a lifestyle of semi-solitude is just fine.